Myths and legends

How much is the largest diamond in the world worth?

Diamond is one of the most valuable minerals. Its name translated from Greek means “indestructible.” The talent and skill of carvers transform rough stones into real works of art – diamonds that attract the attention of rich and noble people, representatives of the creative intelligentsia, and adventurers. The most expensive diamonds in the world usually have a fascinating biography, which often includes travels across continents, love stories, intrigues, high-profile trials and even bloody conflicts.

“Culinnan I” or “Star of Africa I”

A large diamond weighing 621,35 g (3106,75 carats) was found in 1905 in South Africa in the mines owned by Thomas Cullinnan. The most interesting thing is that it was located at a distance of only 9 m from the ground level and only a pocket knife was needed to remove it. In 1907, the jewel was presented as a gift to King Edward VII of Great Britain. At that time it was worth more than 8 million pounds. During processing, the colorless, fist-sized gem was split into 9 large and 96 small pieces. The total mass of manufactured diamonds is more than 1063 carats. The largest diamond, called “Culinnan I” or “Star of Africa I”, is cut in the shape of a teardrop, weighs 530,4 carats and is considered priceless (estimated value is $400 million). Its place is on the royal scepter of Great Britain, where the diamond was placed by order of Edward VII. The relic is kept in the Tower of London. If the stone is removed from the scepter, it can be worn on formal clothing as a brooch. In the general range of diamonds, “Cullinan I” is in second place after the “Golden Jubilee” (545,67 carats), a stone that appeared at the end of the last century. But among colorless gems, “Star of Africa I” holds a leading position.

“Culinnan II” or “Second Star of Africa”

The second largest diamond produced by cutting the Culinnan Diamond is called the Culinnan II or Second Star of Africa. Its mass is 317,4 kart. The type of cut is cushion (“cushion”). “Culinnan II” is shaped like a square with rounded edges. It is especially beautiful when lit with candles, the light of which reveals its pure depth. The large stone takes pride of place as the centerpiece of the British Empire Crown. It is surrounded by St Edward’s and Stuart sapphires, and above it shines the Black Prince’s Ruby. The “Second Star of Africa” has lugs that allow it to be worn as a brooch along with its “big brother” – “Culinnan I”.

“Small Stars of Africa”

Large stones obtained from the processing of the Cullinnan diamond were inherited from one English queen to another. The Culinnan III (94,4 carats) and Culinnan IV (63,3 carats) diamonds are collectively called the “Small Stars of Africa.” The 56-facet cut gives the Culinnan III its pear-shaped shape. “Culinnan IV” has a cushion cut. Both diamonds shone in the British crown and then served as a brooch for Mary of Teck. The base of the jewelry is a cushion-cut stone, and the pendant is a teardrop-shaped diamond. The Queen wore the luxurious diamond brooch until her death, and in 1953 it was inherited by her granddaughter, Elizabeth II.

“Our Light”

The second largest diamond after Culinnan is considered to be the Lesedi la Rona (“Our Light”) diamond, weighing 1109 carats, found in 2015 in Botswana at the mine of the Canadian company Lucara Diamond. In this mine, located on the border of the Kalahari and Karoo deserts, two more very large stones were previously found – 813 and 374 carats. According to scientists, the Our Light diamond is the same age as life on Earth. Researchers estimate its age at 3 million years. In September 2017, Lucara Diamond sold Lesedi for $53 million to Lawrence Graff, founder of the GraffDiamonds jewelry house. After 18 months of work, a unique collection of 67 diamonds was obtained, including the Graff Lesedi la Rona, the largest emerald-cut square diamond in the world (302,37 carats).

Excelsior

In June 1893, a black worker walked into the office of the manager of the South African Jagersfontein mine in Sierra Leone holding in his hand a large stone of an unusual shape, one side of which was flat. Its mass was 194,2 g (971,75 carats). The elongated diamond was called Excelsior – “the highest.” “Excelsior” was distinguished by its ideal purity and other excellent jewelry characteristics. It had a rare white color with a slightly bluish tint. Excelsior was transported from the field to Cape Town under the guard of cavalry, and was brought to Britain on a military ship. For 10 years, the further fate of the stone remained uncertain. In 1903, Dutch jeweler Henry Koo cut the diamond into 21 elements. The total weight loss during processing was 62,5%. All diamonds were sold individually. Three stones were purchased by Tiffany, one by De Beers. The identity of the rest was unknown. The largest diamond, named Excelsior I, weighs 69,8 carats. In 1996, it was purchased by antique dealer and jeweler R. Muawad for $2,46 million and made part of an exclusive design bracelet. In 2004, model Heidi Klum advertised this large diamond as a bra decoration. The cost of the stone at that time was $11 million.

“Star of Sierra Leone”

A diamond weighing 969,8 carats was found in 1972 on the territory of the state of Sierra Leone. The initial processing of the stone produced a huge diamond weighing 143,2 carats. But the presence of an internal defect forced the jewelers to continue working and divide the gem into smaller fragments. A total of 17 diamonds of perfect clarity were produced.

“The Legend of Lesotho”

A large diamond weighing 910 carats was discovered in 2018 in the Letsheng mine in Lesotho. This mine supplies the market with some of the highest quality diamonds in the world. The stone found was comparable in size to two golf balls – transparent, perfectly clean, without foreign impurities. That same year, mining company Gem Diamonds Ltd sold a diamond called the Legend of Lesotho in Antwerp for $40 million. The owner of the Legend wished to remain anonymous. And today the fate of the stone is also unknown.

“Kohinoor”

The Kohinoor Diamond (“Mountain of Light”) is a unique stone that has belonged to British monarchs for more than 170 years. The diamond came to the British in 1849 as a result of the seizure of the Lahore treasure. Those close to Queen Victoria tried to persuade her to refuse such a gift, since Kohinoor had a very bad reputation. Over the course of six centuries (the stone has been officially known since the beginning of the 18th century), XNUMX owners of the diamond have died. According to legend in India, Kohinoor fell from the sky. God Krishna warned people that those who obtain the stone through dishonest means will end their life in suffering. Historians claim that the name of the diamond was given by the Persian ruler Nadir Shah, who captured Delhi. Seeing a large shining stone, he exclaimed: “Kohinoor!” Like many other owners of the treasure, Nadir Shah faced a tragic fate. At first he was overcome by psychiatric illness, and in 1748 he was killed. And the stone. disappeared. After the palace coup, the son of Nadir Shah was subjected to terrible torture, but did not reveal the secret of “Kohinoor”. The diamond was discovered many years later, walled up in a prison wall. Queen Victoria of Great Britain agreed to accept the stone as a gift for two reasons. Firstly, the legend said that women were not in danger: “Only God or a woman can wield it with impunity.” Secondly, the queen received a document from the maharaja’s son indicating that the stone was given to her voluntarily. At the beginning of the 2015st century, the governments of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran claimed ownership of the treasure. But in XNUMX, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the Kohinoor should continue to be owned by the British monarchs because the diamond was legally transferred to the English Crown. Scientists estimate that in 1300 the diamond weighed 600–793 carats. In 1852, its weight was 186 carats. By order of Victoria, the stone underwent another treatment. As a result, the diamond lost its yellowish tint, which the queen did not like, and began to weigh 105,6 carats. Scientists believe that the recutting was a mistaken step, since it not only deprived the diamond of its historical value, but also created an unpleasant “black hole” effect that occurs when looking directly at the stone. Queen Victoria wore a brooch with this diamond. In 1902 he decorated the crown of Queen Alexandra, and in 1911 – Mary. Today the Kohinoor Diamond is kept in the Tower of London. Today it is the most expensive diamond. It is unknown exactly how much the stone costs; it is considered priceless. But according to some reports, its value reaches $1 billion.

“Great Mogul”

This large gemstone has a rich history that dates back to 1650. It was found in a mine on the Indian Peninsula. Its weight at that time was 787 carats. A famous Venetian jeweler cut the diamond in the shape of a rose. The weight of the unique jewel was 279 carats. One of its owners was the Shah of Iran, Nadir Shah. In 1747, after the tragic death of the Iranian ruler, the stone disappeared without a trace. It is believed that it was divided into several diamonds. The prominent Russian mineralogist A.E. Fersman believed that the recut “Great Mongol” was the famous “Orlov” diamond.

“Star of the Millennium”

In 1990, a large diamond weighing 777 carats was found in the Mbuji-Mayi mine, located in the Congo. It was divided into several parts. As a result of laser cutting, a unique diamond with an ideal pear shape was created. The colorless stone of rare purity weighs 203,04 carats. He became the prima of the Millennium collection presented in London. The exhibition was dedicated to the new millennium. They tried to steal the collection, but Scotland Yard officers prevented this crime. The gemstone, called the Millennium Star, was used to create a platinum necklace. It shines surrounded by two hundred small but beautiful diamonds. In 2002, the jewelry was spotted during the Cannes Film Festival on model Iman, wife of David Bowie. In 2000, the Millennium Star Diamond was insured for $100 million. According to experts, this jewel is much more expensive.

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TOP 10 largest and most expensive diamonds in the world TOP 10 largest and most expensive diamonds in the world “Culinnan I” or “Star of Africa I” “Culinnan II” or “Second Star of Africa” “Small Stars of Africa” “Our Light” Excelsior “Star of Sierra Leone” “Legend of Lesotho” “Kohinoor” “Great Mogul” “Star of the Millennium” Diamond. Diamond is the embodiment of purity and radiance, the king among other precious stones. And a large diamond is something special, to such an extent that specimens weighing over 25 carats receive their own names. But even among aristocrats there are celestials, monarchs and rulers of human hearts and feelings. Some stones are known all over the world, even to people far from jewelry and gemology. Behind each of them there is not only fantastic money, but also a long history, sometimes watered with tears and blood of the owners. Even the uninitiated person probably knows that the largest diamond in the world is named “Cullinan”, and the blue “Hope” diamond left a long trail of blood behind it. Let’s plunge into the mysterious world of phenomenal diamonds, whose names are known all over the world, while being amazed and a little horrified!

Diamond “Heart of the Ocean”

Let’s start by getting acquainted with the history of jewelry, a copy of which costs more than the original. We’re talking about a replica of a necklace with a divine blue stone that adorned Rose’s (Kate Winslett) neckline during the filming of the unforgettable Titanic.

The prototype of the jewel was the “cursed” blue Hope Diamond. James Cameron worked out all the details, and the intelligent viewer should have been wary of the appearance of the infamous jewel in the frame. This is clearly not good!

The props for the blockbuster were chosen impeccably, and the role of the cursed necklace was played by two magnificent brothers made by famous jewelry houses – with blue tanzanite and cubic zirconia. As you remember, the blockbuster gained deafening fame, and with it, Rose’s magnificent necklace. The unforgettable blue color of the diamond, its design in the shape of a heart – all this magnificence won the hearts of not only beautiful ladies, but jewelers all over the world.

Many replicas of the legendary decoration were created, including jewelry. Maestro Harry Winston especially distinguished himself by creating a copy of a magnificent necklace that was many times more expensive than the original.

The epicenter of the necklace was a rare deep blue diamond weighing over 13 carats, the origin of which is unknown. The price of the Heart of the Ocean diamond (with its setting and smaller stones, of course) is about $20 million.

“Heart of the Ocean” is the most frequently reproduced decoration of recent decades. According to the most conservative estimates, $160 million worth of jewelry of this type was sold. And that’s not counting the jewelry!

The biggest diamond

The largest and most expensive transparent diamond in the world is named “Cullinan” or “Star of Africa”. There are many legends associated with it, many of which are not documented. But it is known for certain that the largest diamond in the world initially weighed as much as 3 carats, which is over 106,75 grams!

On the left is the Cullinan diamond and the resulting diamonds after cutting. On the right is the Crown of Great Britain with the Cullinan-ll diamond

The incredible diamond received its first name from the owner of the mine where it was found in 1905. Great Britain was hesitant about the diamond mines in southern Africa, and at the first opportunity it occupied the treasured territories. The administration of the enslaved territory of Transvaal was forced to demonstrate devotion to the British crown, which it did by presenting it with a fantastic diamond.

Such a large diamond could not be flawless, so they decided to split it into several pieces. According to legend, cutting maestro Joseph Ascher spent several months searching for the ideal point to strike in order to split the stone. And having hit it, he lost consciousness from excitement.

Everything worked out well: the stone split perfectly into 9 parts. Two of them are truly gigantic: Cullinan-I and Cullinan-II. They weigh 530,2 and 317,4 carats and adorn the scepter and the British crown, respectively.

Cullinan-l in the scepter of Great Britain

The value of the Cullinan diamond cannot be assessed objectively – it has never been put up for auction, either in whole or in part. However, experts say that the price of the diamond adorning the scepter (the largest) exceeds $350 million.

Formally, the Cullinan is no longer the largest cut diamond. At the turn of this century, it was surpassed by the “Golden Jubilee” weighing 545 carats. But “Anniversary” is a cognac-colored diamond, that is, a fantasy diamond, which means that the leaders perform in different categories.

Diamond “Hope”

Calling this fantastic blue stone “Hope” is not entirely true. Yes, his English name is “Hope”, but it is derived not from the word “hope”, but from the surname of one of the owners. His story is sad, like many who owned this incredible stone. Although, as usual in the world of famous jewelry, many myths do not find documentary confirmation.

We immediately step onto the shaky ground of legends, for the beginning of the European history of the magnificent blue diamond is shrouded in mystery. A blue stone of incredible beauty weighing 115 carats was brought to Europe by a certain Tavernier, a famous merchant, adventurer and treasure hunter.

The adventurer either bought it or contributed to its theft from an Indian temple – it is not known for certain. Only one thing has been confirmed: this diamond came under the jurisdiction of the French crown and the court jeweler made several amazing diamonds from it.

One part of the stone came to Russia and is now stored in the Diamond Fund. The fate of another 69-carat blue diamond, known as the French Blue, is much more interesting.

It is known for certain that it was worn by kings Louis XIV and Louis XV, and then the blue diamond mysteriously disappeared from the horizon (it seems to have been stolen during the house arrest of the royal family). Then a similar stone repeatedly surfaced in connection with various dark stories until it was finally lost.

The official date of the appearance of the Hope Diamond in the world is considered to be 1839. It has now been practically proven that this is the same lost French Blue, which has lost a fair amount of weight after being recut.

The Hope family owned this stone for quite a long time, and this clearly did not add happiness to it: either ruin, suicide, or poisoning. When the owners changed, the stone did not lose its bloodthirstiness: it left behind a trail strewn with corpses.

The last established price for the “Hope” diamond is more than half a million francs, and at the beginning of the last century this was fantastic money. For this amount, the “cursed diamond” was purchased by jeweler Pierre Cartier. This is where it’s interesting: either the enterprising businessman deliberately entwined the acquisition with a network of bloody legends, or he really found out its ins and outs, but the fact remains: Cartier sold “Hope” quite quickly.

The next owner of the diamond, Evelyn Walsh, was a very eccentric person. As the wife of the owner of the giant American press, The Washington Post, she could afford a lot, including “walking” a fantastic jewel on the streets of Soviet Moscow.

Mrs. Evelyn Walsh-McLean was not used to denying herself anything, which led the couple to ruin. The main character died in poverty, valuable property (including “Hope”) was sold off.

It is not clear why, but the next owner of Hope, a recognized creator of the world fashion for diamonds, did not profit from the scandalous stone. He simply took and donated “Hope” to the Smithsonian Museum – mind you, absolutely free of charge, without fanfare, sending it by mail!

It is difficult to say how much the “Hope” diamond is worth at the moment – it has not been auctioned for almost a century. But there is no doubt that the cost of the 45-carat blue beauty amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars!

Diamond “Shah”

Here is the second most valuable property of the Russian Diamond Fund, the incredible Shah diamond. We emphasize: it is a diamond, because this stone has not been cut. It is an 88,7 carat crystal of amazing clarity with a slight cognac tint. The magnificent “Shah” has been polished and decorated with three inscriptions in Arabic, but has not lost the natural shape of an elongated octahedron.

The history of “Shah” began in the 15th century, when it was found in India. It was alternately owned by sultans and shahs, who ordered court jewelers to engrave their own names on the diamond’s facets. Eastern rulers called it the Finger of Allah.

Diamond is the hardest substance on the planet. Can you imagine what kind of art was required to apply inscriptions to its surface given the state of technology at that time?

Until the beginning of the 19th century, incredibly pure diamonds lived exclusively in the East. He would probably have stayed there if not for the tragedy that broke out in those years at the Russian Embassy in Tehran. Religious fanatics slaughtered the entire Russian diplomatic mission, including its head.

The cost of the Shah diamond is actually the price of the lives of Russian diplomats led by A.S. Griboyedov. The Persian prince Khosrev-Mirza was afraid that Russia would finish off the already weakened Persia completely, and presented Emperor Nicholas I with rich gifts, which included an incredible diamond, later called the “Shah”.

The eastern treasure was preserved during revolutions and wars, and now it is one of the brightest stars of the Armory Chamber’s exhibition. The market price of “Shah” is unknown, because it has never been sold and is unlikely to be sold in the future.

Diamond “Orlov”

The story about “the very best” would be incomplete without mentioning the fantastic “Orlov”, the recognized favorite of the Diamond Fund. It weighs 184 carats (maybe more, it is impossible to determine exactly), has a greenish-bluish tint, and is the largest diamond found in India. It has retained the rare “Indian rose” cut with as many as 62 facets!

Most likely, “Orlov” is the same “Great Mogul”, often mentioned in historical chronicles. In any case, that’s what the same Tavernier we talked about above called it. He was the first European to see the treasury of the Mughal Shah.

The further history of the stone is eventful. He repeatedly changed noble owners during palace coups, wars of conquest and ordinary thefts, until he surfaced in London. There it fell into the hands of the Armenian merchant Grigory Safras, from whom his Russian colleague, Ivan Lazarev, bought it.

The Indian stone received its Russian name thanks to the favorite of Catherine II, Count Orlov, who bought the diamond from Lazarev for an unimaginable 400 thousand rubles, albeit in installments. Allegedly, the brilliant count simply gave a rare diamond to Catherine for her birthday. Although there is a version that the empress personally took money from the treasury and paid for the purchase, and included Orlova in the game in order to avoid accusations of extravagance.

Now the scepter of the Russian Empress, decorated with “Orlov”, is kept in the Armory. It’s problematic to even talk about its approximate cost – this is a fantastic amount even for the wildest imagination.

There is another legendary diamond with a similar name – “Black Orlov”. Unlike its sparkling namesake, it is dark gray in color and is considered the most famous black diamond in the world.

“Kohinoor”

Meet the legendary treasure of the British crown, the magnificent Kohinoor weighing 105 carats. Its documented history begins at the beginning of the XNUMXth century!

For many centuries, the luxurious diamond served as a symbol of the power of the rajas of the ancient Indian state of Malwa and bore the name “Mountain of Light”. During internecine wars, it changed owners many times, but did not leave India. According to legend, “Kohinoor”, along with its shining brother “Derianur”, served as the eye of a Shiva statue in an ancient Indian temple.

Then came the Mughal invasion, and “Kohinoor” became one of the stars of the famous Peacock Throne, then came the Persians, Afghans, Indians again and finally the British. The conquerors could not leave such a treasure in their homeland and transported it to London.

Kohinoor wearing the British crown

In 1852, “Kohinoor” was recut, as a result of which it lost its historical appearance and part of its weight, but gained pure colorlessness and a flat shape. Now it adorns the crown of reigning Elizabeth and is kept in the Tower treasury.

Legend has it that the history of Kohinoor goes back at least five thousand years. Allegedly, the baby Karna was found by the river with a shining diamond on his forehead. And this, for a moment, is the hero of the Mahabharata, the son of the Sun God!

Other famous diamonds

To describe all the diamonds that have left a significant mark on history, a multi-volume work is needed. Many members of this radiant family are worthy of mention, for example:

  • “Regent” (136,75 carats). According to legend, this diamond was hidden in a wound by a Hindu slave who found it and promised to give it to a British sailor in exchange for a “ticket” on the ship. The sailor killed the slave and sold the stone to the English governor. The Regent is now kept in the Louvre.
  • “Tiffany” (128,52 carats). The diamond was mined in South Africa and purchased by Charles Tiffany. The stone was cut, it managed to be set (the “Bird on the Stone” brooch), but never changed owner. It remains a Tiffany signature and was worn only three times, including by Audrey Hepburn and Lady Gaga.
  • “Our Light”. A find of our time: a huge diamond weighing 1 carats was mined in 109 in Botswana. Lucara Diamond Corporation tried many times to sell the giant, but the amounts offered were less than the stated $2015 million. In 70, “Our Light” finally found its rightful owner, but nothing is yet known about its transformation into a diamond.

  • From left to right, Regent, Tiffany, Our Light diamonds

    You can’t own such stones, but you can’t help but admire them!

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