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We love diamonds – after all who doesn’t? (For those of you that prefer other gemstones, don’t worry, we have those too.) Diamonds get their glittery appeal thanks to natural chemistry. When heat and pressure deep under the surface of the Earth combine, they force carbon atoms to rearrange, which is how we end up with natural diamonds. We then rely on volcanic eruptions and other geological forces to push diamonds closer to the surface, which allows us to mine them. After all that, only a fraction of diamonds meet the requirements a jeweler is looking for – clarity, color, cut, and carat weight.
With all of these criteria in play, some diamonds come with a dramatic backstory. Dive in with us as we explore some of the tales history has bestowed on these famous diamonds.
Some diamonds are special because of their unusual color. One such example of this is the Hope Diamond. Weighing in at a whopping 45.52 carats, it contains shades of blue and gray and a legacy as colorful as the diamond itself. The Hope Diamond’s legacy begins in India in 1600, where it is said to have been stolen from a statue of the Hindu goddess Sita. From there, it has traversed the world from India to France to England to its present home in the Natural Museum of History in New York, where it has lived since 1958.
Along the way, there are rumors of tragedy befalling those who have dared handle it – from being torn apart by dogs, facing the guillotine (sorry, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette), gambling debts, illnesses, and general family misfortune. Perhaps it’s safest that the Hope Diamond is under lock and key with no one owner these days, especially with its current value rumored to be $250 million.
Similar to the Hope Diamond, the Orlov Diamond is said to have originated from India as well. What happens from there depends on which version of history you want to believe. Was it pried from the eye of an idol in an Indian temple by a deserter of the French Army in the 1700s? Or maybe it was stolen following the 1747 assassination of Nader Shah, King of Persia.
Either way, the diamond clearly didn’t have auspicious beginnings. It made its way to Russia where its first instance of documented history appears in the early 1770s. The diamond was acquired by Count Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov for his lover, Russian Empress Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great. She rejected his affections, but kept the diamond – and had it mounted in the Imperial Sceptre. It is believed to weigh in around 190 carats, and remains part of Russia’s regalia, on display at the Kremlim Armoury in Moscow.
Unlike the other two diamonds listed above, the Great Star of Africa doesn’t have nebulous beginnings – or endings. Instead, it has the distinction of being the world’s largest diamond – or part of it. The original diamond was found in South Africa in 1905 and weighed in at about 3,106 carats, or just under 1.5 pounds. The stone itself was named for Sir Thomas Cullinan, who had discovered the mine three years prior. It was later presented to the British monarchy as a gift. Due to the stone’s size and weight, it was cut into nine large stones and 100 smaller ones by I.J. Asscher and Company (yes, that Asscher of the Asscher cut).
The largest of these cuts is known as the Great Star of Africa, or Cullinan I, and weighs more than 530 carats. It was cut into a pear shape gem and set into the British monarchy’s Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross. Incidentally, the second largest of the Cullinan diamonds cut is now part of the Imperial State Crown. That means two of the British monarchy’s crown jewels owe part of their good looks to the Cullinan Diamond. Today, their value is almost immeasurable, with some estimates as high as $400 million.
With some sordid tales and royal bearings, these diamonds have certainly earned their reputation among the world’s most famous diamonds. We may not have the size of these diamonds on hand, but we certainly have some certified beauties that we’d love to show you. If you’re interested in buying or selling diamonds, look no further than Samuelson’s. We have nearly 100 years of buying and selling gems behind us – and we make sure they all are of guaranteed origin. No tales of woe here!
Call us today or contact us online to request an appointment with one of our certified experts today!