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History & Facts About Diamonds

Formation of diamonds

  

Diamonds are the world’s oldest treasure, having formed over 3.3 billion years ago, 200km below the Earth’s surface. Under conditions of extreme heat (900 to 1,300 degrees Celsius) and pressure (between 45 and 60 kilobars), carbon atoms crystallize, forming diamonds. It takes millions of years for a diamond to form, and geologists believe the most recently formed diamonds would be around 45 million years old. Changes of temperature and pressure can significantly impact the formation of diamonds, and if the conditions are not ideal, it could result in the extinction of new diamonds.

  

rough diamond
A Shimansky diamond in the rough.

  

Molten Kimberlites (also known as magma) are also formed within the Earth’s upper mantle (the liquid bit beneath the Earth’s crust) under conditions of intense heat and pressure, that makes the Kimberlite expand at a rapid rate. This expansion causes the magma to erupt, forcing it into the Earth’s surface and taking along with it the diamond-bearing rocks.

  

Traveling at an incredible speed, the erupted magma forms a pipe to the surface of the Earth. As the magma cools, it hardens to form a rock called Kimberlite, the most significant source of diamonds. The Kimberlite settles in vertical structures known as Kimberlite pipes. These types of “eruptions” have not occurred in recent times, and it is believed that they happened during a time when the Earth was naturally hotter.

  

kimberlite pipe and diamond formation
Kimberlite pipe below the earth’s surface containing diamond bearing rock.

  

Kimberlite derives its name from the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where the first diamonds were found in this type of rock. Though Kimberlite pipes are the most significant source of diamonds, it is estimated that only 1 in 200 Kimberlite pipes contain gem-quality diamonds. This exemplifies the rarity of diamonds, and serves as a reminder that a diamond is a unique gift from the Earth, unrushed in its formation, and extremely valuable due to its scarcity.

  

Diamonds are mined using a variety of techniques, and on average, a massive 250 metric tons of ore is mined to produce just one carat gem-quality polished diamond. This rarity made the Ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were tears from the gods, and that they had mystical and magical properties. Expert levels of craftsmanship and skill allow diamond cutters and polishers, like those at Shimansky, to bring a rough diamond to life and showcase its brilliance, fire and scintillation, reaching its full potential.

  

The word “diamond” comes from the Greek word “Adamas,” meaning “indestructible.” The strongest material known to man, a diamond is almost pure carbon, making it the only gem made of a single element. 99.95% of a diamond is carbon, with the remaining 0.5% believed to consist of trace elements, which can have an effect on the color of a diamond. Found in abundance, carbon takes on many forms: the difference between a diamond and a lump of coal, is basically just their molecular structure.

  

Coal or charcoal is relatively unstructured and contains organic molecules of decomposed plants and animals. Like diamonds, it was also formed deep within the Earth’s crust, but diamonds have a crystalline structure, which resembles the shape of a pyramid. When a diamond is formed, each of its carbon atoms bonds with another four carbon atoms. This means that each atom is essentially participating in four extremely strong covalent bonds. And it is as a result of these bonds that diamonds are 58 times harder than any other matter found in nature.

  

Found in various parts of the world, diamonds are most often found in Africa, South America and parts of the East. The first diamonds are believed to have been discovered in the rivers of India as early as the 4th century BC. Brazil became an important diamond source in the 1700s, and it was only in 1867 that diamonds were discovered in Kimberley, South Africa. Today, South Africa is one of the world’s most well-known and generous diamond-producing countries.

  

Shimansky’s expert team can see a diamond’s potential while it is still in its rough form. It takes great precision and attention to detail from our master diamond cutters and polishers to transform the rough stone into a gem worthy of our iconic jewelry designs. Beautiful and rare, a diamond’s journey of formation gives it its unique qualities, as well as its ability to shine with incomparable brilliance. The most desirable gemstone, a diamond’s journey from the core of the Earth, via the mine, to your finger, is simply magical.

 

History

  

The discovery of diamonds in South Africa played a key role in the world’s diamond history. Before diamonds were discovered in Kimberley, they were extremely rare, and were only found in small quantities in India and Brazil. Today, South Africa continues to be one of the world’s major producers, and it is estimated that up to 65% of the world’s diamonds were mined in Africa.

  

Erasmus Stephanus Jacobs

  

The first diamond discoveries in South Africa were alluvial, meaning they were found as deposits along a river bed. In 1867, a 15-year-old boy named Erasmus Jacobs found a small transparent rock along the banks of the Orange River, near his farm where he lived with his family. Erasmus showed the stone to his father, who in turn showed it to a neighboring farmer, Schalk van Niekerk. Van Niekerk found the stone to be very intriguing and offered to buy it from the Jacobs family. Not realizing its value, he sent it, via ordinary mail, to Grahamstown, where Dr. William Guybon Atherstone confirmed that it was a 21.24 carat diamond. It was named the Eureka Diamond, and is the single most important diamond in the history of South Africa.

  

A few years later, Johannes Nicolaas de Beer and his brother Diederik Arnoldus De Beer, two Dutch settlers, discovered diamonds on their farm. The discovery led to a diamond rush, with people from various parts of South Africa invading their land with the hope of finding their very own diamonds. Unable to protect their land from the masses of people flocking upon it, they decided to sell their property. Although the brothers did not become the owners of diamond mines, their name, De Beers, was given to one of the mines, and today, the De Beers name is still synonymous with the diamond industry worldwide.

  

Transport methods for miners working in the open cast mine.

  

These events led to the Great Kimberley Diamond Rush, where people from all over the world relocated to Kimberley to make money mining diamonds in South Africa. More than 22 million metric tons of earth was removed from what is now known as “The Big Hole” in Kimberley, and approximately three metric tons of diamonds were claimed. The Big Hole is considered the world’s deepest man-made hole. Almost circular in shape with a perimeter of 2km, it is 215m deep, and is situated in the center of the town. In just a few years, South Africa yielded more diamonds than India had in over 2,000 years, with Kimberley, being responsible for producing 95% of the world’s diamonds at the time. Today, The Big Hole is just a tourist attraction.

  

Kimberley was home to great wealth, and many great rivalries in the 1870s and 1880s. The most notable of these rivalries was that between Cecil John Rhodes and Barney Barnato, who were English immigrants. Both men were the owners of their own companies, and at one stage, both owned shares in the same company. They battled for stock, and in 1888 Rhodes triumphed and merged the holdings of all his diamond companies to form one of the world’s leading diamond mining groups called De Beers Consolidated Mines. Today, De Beers is one of the world’s most successful companies, and has monopoly over the global diamond industry.

  

The Eureka diamond exchanged many hands before it was finally purchased by De Beers, who donated the Eureka to the people of South Africa. It is currently on display at the Kimberly Mine Museum in South Africa.

  

Another one of the major producers of diamonds in South Africa was the Premier Mine. It was established after the discovery of the Cullinan Diamond Pipe near Pretoria in 1902 and has produced some of the world’s largest and most famous diamonds, including the Cullinan in 1905 (a 3106.75 carat diamond named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine). Today, two diamonds that were cut and polished from the Cullinan diamond forms part of the crown jewels of the British Royal Family.

  

rough diamonds
The stages of a diamond, from rough to cut and polished.

  

Diamonds in South Africa have a history of almost 150 years, and their discovery in Kimberley made them readily available to people all over the world. Diamond mines are a great contributor to the South African economy. There are mines in five of the country’s nine provinces, and thousands of local workers are employed to extract them. The diamond industry continues to be one of the country’s most lucrative industries, and it played a major role in South Africa becoming one of the most economically successful countries in Africa.

 

  

Mining of Diamonds

  

The journey of a Shimansky diamond begins with an uncut stone sourced directly from the mine. In its rough form it has potential, its size simply a promise of what it might be. Only in the hands of a master craftsmen does the diamond realize its true potential. Each rough diamond is hand-selected for its unique characteristics, before being meticulously cut and polished to realize its true brilliance.

  

Southern Africa accounts for a large percentage of the world’s gem-quality diamond production. Approximately 13 million carats of diamonds are mined annually, with a total value of nearly US $9 billion.

  

There are three main types of diamond mining:

  • Pipe mining (primary deposits) consisting of open-pit mining and underground mining;
  • Alluvial mining (secondary deposits);
  • Marine mining

 

Pipe Mining

 

open-pit mining
An open-pit mine in South Africa.

Open-Pit Mining

  

Open-pit mining, such as the Kimberley Big Hole, involves removing the layers of sand and rock found just above the Kimberlite. The ore in the pit is then broken up by blasting. Once this ore is broken, it is loaded and then transported to a primary ore crusher where the diamond extraction process begins.

  

Underground Mining

  

Miners tunnel through the Earth’s crust to reach the kimberlite pipe. Tunnels are constructed in two levels, one above the other with funnels built to connect the two. Mining begins on the top level by blasting ore, which falls through the funnels and collects on the second tunnel. Here, loaders collect the broken ore and bring back to the surface for processing.

  



Alluvial Mining

  

Alluvial Mining
Sorting through the gravel in the rivers by hand.

After thousands of years of wind and rain, the Kimberlite pipe that reaches the Earth’s surface gets eroded. Rough diamonds from the Kimberlite then get carried downstream via the rivers. These diamonds are often found in the gravel layer of other material such as mud, clay and underwater plant life. The Industrial alluvial process involves building a large wall to collect the water in one area, where the gravel is collected and then hauled to the surface and prepared for processing.

  



Marine Mining

  

marine Mining
A marine mining ship at sea.

Marine mining involves extracting diamonds from the seabed, deep under water. Ships with specialized technology are used to mine for diamonds deep out at sea by using a powerful crawler that sucks gravel from the seabed up through flexible hoses or pipes. In the earlier days of marine mining, a swimmer would collect diamond bearing gravel from the shallows.

Alternatively, they use a large scale drill mounted to the ship to excavate diamonds. The coast of Namibia is the richest known source of marine diamond deposits which account for approximately 64% of Namibia's total diamond production.

  


  

The process of ore to extract rough diamonds

 process of extracting rough diamonds from ore 

  

There are 5 different stages in which diamonds are recovered from ore:

  

Stage 1: Crushing

  

Diamond-bearing ore and gravel is collected and transferred to a primary crusher, which is responsible for reducing the larger pieces of ore into smaller pieces that measure no larger than 150mm, and are much more manageable. A secondary crusher (also called a roll-crusher), is sometimes used to break the ore down into even smaller pieces.

  

Stage 2: Scrubbing

  

In the scrubbing stage, the pieces of ore are scrubbed in order to remove any loose excess material attached to them, and are then screened. Pieces of ore smaller than 1.5mm are discarded, as it is too costly to extract diamonds from such small pieces.

  

Stage 3: Cyclonic Separation Plant

  

A solution comprising ferrosilicon powder and water is mixed to a specific density and mixed with the diamond-bearing ore. Once mixed, the solution is put into a cyclone, where it is tumbled and, in this process, forced to separate. The materials with the highest density sink to the bottom of the cyclone, and as a result, a layer rich in diamond concentrate is formed.

  

Stage 4: Discovery

  

The diamond-rich concentrate goes through various processes including magnetic susceptibility, x-ray luminescence and crystallographic laser fluorescence. These processes separate the rough diamonds from the other heavy density materials that were collected in the cyclone separation plant. Diamonds emit flashes of light that are detected by sensors. The sensors send a signal to a microprocessor, that in turn, fires a blast of air in the direction of the diamond. The diamond is then spit into a collection box.

  

Stage 5: Cleaned, Weighed and Packaged

  

The diamonds collected in the collection box are then cleaned in an acid solution before being washed, weighed and packaged for transportation. Each container is thoroughly sealed as per the Kimberley process – they have a tamper-resistant seal and are numbered onsite.

  


 

Cutting and Polishing

  

Diamond cutting and polishing is the process of transforming a rough diamond into a brilliant, faceted gemstone. It is an art that the Shimansky craftsmen have mastered, but also an exact science that requires intense precision, attention to detail and state-of-the-art technology. It takes years of experience and training to acquire the skills needed for this process, as every facet must be mathematically aligned in order to ensure the brilliance and sparkle that you see in every Shimansky diamond. Even the smallest of mistakes can have a major impact on the quality of the cut of the final gem. At Shimansky, this process is completed in-house from beginning, to end, ensuring each and every step adheres to the Shimansky standard of precision and attention to detail.

  

Shimansky has a license to buy and polish rough diamonds – unique among jewelers. This ensures that only the finest, hand-selected diamonds are chosen for Shimansky jewelry creations. After the best quality rough stones have been selected, they are sent to the Shimansky Diamond Cutting and Polishing Workshop, situated in the Clock Tower at the world-famous V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Here, the Shimansky master diamond cutters and polishers transform the rough gems into magnificent displays of light. The cutting and polishing is completed by hand, ensuring exact quality control, and preserving the ancient art of cutting and polishing.

  

Unrushed, Shimansky diamond cutters and polishers take their time with each gem, ensuring it reaches its maximum potential. State-of-the-art technology, combined with ancient cutting and polishing traditions yield iconic Shimansky diamonds, of globally-admired quality.

  

Diamond Cutting & Polishing Process

  

diamond analysis

Screen shot of a diamond being analyzed.

  

Step 1: Analyzing

  

The first vital step in the diamond cutting and polishing process is the analysis of the rough diamond. After analyzing its size, shape, clarity and crystal direction, the best cut for the diamond is determined in order to maximize its end value and appearance. This step can only be completed successfully if done by a master diamond cutter whose trained eye and expertise includes the ability to determine the best possible cut for the rough stone.


A diamond cutter will consider various possibilities before deciding which will yield the best quality gem, as it is a diamond’s cut that determines its ability to reflect light. Even if a diamond is graded well in terms of its color, clarity and carat weight, a poor cut will greatly affect the value of the stone.

  

diamond marking

Marking the diamond for cutting.

  

Step 2: Marking

  

The second step in the diamond production process is the marking of the stone using 3D laser technology. Incorrect marking by a fraction of a millimeter can greatly impact the quality of the final gem, so after noting any imperfections, a diamond marker may decide to work around an inclusion to polish a few high clarity diamonds from one rough stone, rather than yielding one large diamond of lower clarity grading.

  

diamond sawing

The diamond sawing process.

  

Step 3: Sawing

  

Once marked, a diamond is placed on a jeweler's sawing spindle for the third step in the cutting and polishing process. The rough diamond is cut where it has been marked with a copper blade with a mixture of oil and the diamond powder left over from cutting other diamonds. The spindle revolves at an incredible 3000 rotations per minute. It is the diamond powder on the copper blade that physically cuts the stone, and not the copper blade itself. This is because diamonds are the hardest mineral in the world and can only be cut by another diamond. Each diamond is unique, and its cutting angles need to be planned with mathematical precision in order to achieve the perfect cut.

  

diamond blocking

Diamond blocking.

  

Step 4: Blocking

  

Blocking establishes a stone’s basic symmetry by creating the first 17 or 18 facets, really laying the foundations for the cut. For some small diamonds the process stops here, but larger diamonds go on to a specialist Brillianteer to have additional facets polished, adding to the brilliance of the diamond.

  

diamond polishing

Polishing the diamond.

  

Step 5: Polishing

  

Also known as brillianteering, polishing is the final stage of the cutting process. The diamond’s final facets are polished and shaped to ideal proportions and perfect symmetry in order for the diamond to reflect the maximum amount of white light. The more sparkle and brilliance a diamond has, the more beautiful it is, and the higher its value will be. It is this step that determines the fire, brilliance and scintillation the diamond will have.

  

Famous Diamonds

  

The sparkle of a diamond fascinates people the world over. From the Crown Jewels of the royal families, the necklace on the Titanic, to the red carpet of the annual Academy Awards and the latest celebrity to get engaged, everyone dreams of wearing some of the most loved, admired and celebrated diamonds. Let’s take a look back at some of the world’s most famous diamonds ever found.

  

The Cullinan diamond
The Cullinan
Weight 3106ct rough
Discovered 26 January 1905
Origin The Premier Mine, Transvaal, South Africa

  

  

The Cullinan is the largest gem-quality diamond ever found. It was named in honor of Sir Thomas Cullinan, the founder of the Premier Mine, South Africa. The diamond was split up into 9 major gemstones, plus 96 smaller ones and about 19.5cts of unpolished pieces. The two largest gems were kept for England’s regalia and the rest were kept by the Asscher Brothers as the fee for cutting the stone. King Edward bought one of the major gems from them for his consort, Queen Alexandra. The Transvaal government bought the remaining stones and pieces back, presenting the other 6 major gems to Queen Mary in 1910. Two of the small stones were presented to Prime Minister Louis Botha, who gave one to his daughter when she turned 17. When the Cullinan was first discovered, signs suggested that it could have been part of a much larger stone as four sides were smooth, but no discovery of the ‘missing half’ has ever been authenticated.

  

Cullinan 1, The Star of Africa

 

Cullinan 1, The Star of Africa

Weight 530.2ct polished
Discovered 1895
Origin Zandfontein Farm, South Africa
Shape

Pear Shape Brilliant

  

The Star of Africa Diamond is the largest cut diamond in the world. It is cut in a pear shape, with 74 facets, and is found in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, mounted into the head of the Scepter with Cross. It was cut from the 3,106 carat Cullinan, the largest diamond ever found.

The Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond

Weight: 45.52ct polished
Discovered: Unknown
Origin: Unknown, but believed to originate from the southern region of India
Shape: Oval Brilliant
Color: Dark Blue

  

Also known as “Le Bijou du Roi” (the King’s Jewel”), the Hope Diamond is one of the most famous diamonds in the world, as it is notorious ‘cursed’. It received its name from Henry Thomas Hope. This diamond is believed to have a great mystical power based on its unusual size and unique color, a deep indigo blue. It is said that the Hope Diamond was used to adorn the statue of a Hindu idol. It is currently housed in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.

The Excelsior Diamond

The Excelsior

Weight 995.2ct rough
Discovered 30 June 1893
Origin Jagersfontein Mine, South Africa
Color

Blue-white

  

The Excelsior is the second largest stone ever found. Until 1905 when the larger Cullinan was found, the Excelsior held the record as the largest known diamond in the world, before being bumped. When found, it had a blue-white shade and an unusual shape - flat on one side, rising to a peak on the other - resembling a loaf of rye bread. It’s believed this is what inspired the diamond to be named “excelsior”, meaning higher. The diamond was cut into 21 polished stones, the largest of which is a marquise of 69.68ct.

The Star of Sierra Leone diamond

The Star of Sierra Leone

Weight 968.90ct rough
Discovered 14 February 1972
Origin Yengeme, Sierra Leone

  

The Star of Sierra Leone is the third largest rough diamond, and the largest alluvial gem diamond, ever found. The diamond was originally cut into a 143.20ct emerald cut diamond, but when it was properly inspected, they found inclusions. So, it was recut into seven smaller stones, the largest of which weighed in at 35.52ct. A rare characteristic of the stone is its 100% pure carbon, and has none of the trace elements that add colour to a diamond. As a result it is graded as a Type IIa diamond, a category that includes less than 1% of all diamonds.

The Golden Jubilee

The Golden Jubilee

Weight 545.67ct polished
Discovered 1985
Origin The Premier Mine, South Africa
Shape Cushion Cut
Color Yellow-brown

  

The largest faceted diamond in the world, the Golden Jubilee, was first known unpretentiously as the “Unnamed Brown” and was considered a bit of an ugly duckling – big but not very pretty. It was given to designer Gabi Tolkowsky to design, cut and polish, which took two years. It was purchased by a syndicate of Thai businessmen and presented to the King of Thailand in 1997 for his Golden Jubilee - the 50th anniversary of his coronation. It is now located in the Royal Thai Palace as part of their crown jewels.

The Centenary Diamond

The Centenary

Weight 273.85ct polished, 599ct rough
Discovered 17 July 1986
Origin Premier Mine, South Africa
Shape Pear
Color Grade D colorless

  

The Centenary diamond is the second largest, modern-cut, flawless diamond and the largest cut, fancy diamond in the world. It is known for its multiple facets (164 on the stone and 83 on the girdle) and it is the only diamond to combine cutting methods from the oldest known, combined with using the most modern technology. The rough diamond resembled an irregular matchbox with angular planes, a prominent elongated “horn” at one corner and a deep concave on the largest flat surface. Discovered by means of an electric X-ray recovery system, only a handful of people knew that the diamond existed, and all were sworn to silence. De Beers later unveiled The Centenary Diamond at a celebration of the company’s 100th birthday in 1988.

The Eureka Diamond

The Eureka

Weight 10.73ct polished, one of two diamonds cut from 21.25ct of rough
Discovered 1867
Origin Orange River, Hopetown, South Africa
Shape Oval Brilliant
Color Yellow

  

The Eureka Diamond was the very first diamond discovered in South Africa and its discovery triggered the Kimberley Diamond Rush. It was found, by chance, on an Orange River bank, near Kimberley, in 1867 by 15-year-old Erasmus Jacobs. He handed it to his neighbor, Schalk van Niekerk, who was a collector of unusual stones. Van Niekerk handed over the stone to a travelling peddler, John O’Reilly, who sent it to Dr W.G. Atherstone, a gemologist in Grahamstown. He identified the stone as a 21.25ct brownish-yellow diamond. The stone was sold to Sir Phillip Wodehouse and in Britain for over 100 years. In 1967 DeBeers bought it back and donated it to the people of South Africa. It is on display at the Kimberley Mine Museum today.

The Incomparable Diamond

The Incomparable

Weight 407.48ct polished, 890ct rough
Discovered 1984
Origin Mbuji Mayi District, Democratic Republic of Congo
Shape Triolette
Color Yellow

  

The Incomparable Diamond is the third largest diamond ever cut, surpassed by the Cullinan 1 and the Golden Jubilee, and was found when a young girl discovered the diamond in a pile of rubble collected from old mine dumps. It was cut into the world’s largest gem, but the size was reduced to limit internal flaws. The rough stone was cut into one large diamond (the Incomparable) and 14 smaller diamonds, which range in color all the way from colorless to a deep rich brown. This diamond is known for its flawless clarity, its unusual triolette shape and its natural fancy brown-yellow color.

The Jubilee Diamond

The Jubilee

Weight 245.35ct polished, 650.80ct rough
Clarity VVS2
Origin Free State, South Africa
Shape Cushion Cut
Color E

  

Initially known as the Reitz Diamond, The Jubilee Diamond was first discovered by mine workers in 1895 at the Jagersfontein Mine. It weighed 650.80ct as a rough diamond and is the world’s sixth largest diamond. It was cut into two large diamonds, both admired for their clarity, color and brilliance. In honor of the sixteenth anniversary of Queen Victoria’s coronation, the larger of the two diamonds was named the Jubilee. The Jubilee, along with The Excelsior, was acquired by a conglomerate of diamond merchants in London, which comprised the firms Wernher, Beit & Co., Barnato Bros. and Mosenthal Sons & Co.

The De Beers Diamond

 

The De Beers

Weight 234.65ct
Origin De Beers Mine, Kimberley South Africa

  

Shortly after De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited formed in March 1888, a light-yellow octahedral diamond was discovered in the De Beers Mine. It weighed 428.5 old carats and was 47.6mm in length and 38.1mm square. The De Beers Diamond, at the time of its discovery, was the largest diamond discovered at the four Kimberley mines.

Today the De Beers Diamond is the world’s seventh largest faceted diamond, weighing 234.65 carats, after it is assumed that it was cut in Amsterdam.

The De Beers was purchased by the Maharaja of Patiala after it was on display in Paris. It was set as the centerpiece of a necklace created by Cartier in 1928 which became known as the Patiala Necklace. During the 1930s the De Beers Diamond was acquired by its present owners.

The Jonker Diamond

The Jonker

Weight 137.02ct polished, 353.9ct rough
Origin Premier Mine, South Africa
Color D
Clarity Flawless
Shape Pear Shape

  

A 726 carat diamond was discovered by Johannes Jonker in January 1934 at the Elandsfontein mine, just two miles from where The Cullinan was found. Named the Jonker Diamond, it was bought by Oppenheimers’ Diamond Corporation and later by Harry Winston who had it cut into thirteen brilliant stones, the largest of which weighed 142.9ct and it is believed to be owned by an anonymous buyer in Hong Kong.

The Premier Rose Diamond

 

The Premier Rose

Weight 137.02ct polished, 353.9ct rough
Origin Premier Mine, South Africa
Color D
Clarity Flawless
Shape Pear Shape

  

The Premier Mine in South Africa was known for producing several of the largest diamonds in the world, including The Cullinan, and in March of 1978, it produced yet another extraordinary diamond. Known as the Premier Rose, this diamond had a triangular-shaped cleavage of the finest color and weighted a hefty 353.9 carats on discovery. The Premier Rose now weighs 137.02 carats, and is known as the largest D-color flawless diamond.

The Tiffany Yellow Diamond

 

The Tiffany Yellow

Weight 128.54ct polished, 287.42ct rough
Origin Kimberley, South Africa
Color Yellow
Shape Cushion Cut

  

One of the world’s largest fancy yellow diamonds, the Tiffany Yellow Diamond weighed 287.42 carats as a rough diamond, on discovery in 1878 at South Africa’s famous Kimberley Mine. It was bought by New Yorker, Charles Tiffany, and - to maximize and accentuate its brilliance - they chose to cut it into a cushion shape diamond, weighing 128.54 carats, with 90 facets (32 more facets than usual). The Tiffany Yellow Diamond was set by Jean Schlumberger, and is known to only ever have been worn by three women – a socialite at the 1957 Tiffany Ball, Audrey Hepburn in 1961 publicity photos for the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s and in 2019 by Lady Gaga to the 91st Oscar ceremony, all loaned by Tiffany & Co., New York.

The Niarchos Diamond

 

The Niarchos Diamond

Weight 128.25ct polished, 426.5ct rough
Shape Pear Cut

  

Discovered at the South African Premier Mine in 1954, the 427 carat Niarchos Diamond was flawless and a pear-shaped brilliant. Sir Ernest Oppenheimer thought it had the most perfect color he had ever seen in a diamond. In February 1956 the Diamond Trading Company announced that the sale of the still-unnamed rough diamond was made to Harry Winston Inc. It was cut in New York into a 128.25 carat diamond nicknamed the “ice Queen’, and two smaller diamonds. All three were bought by Stavros Niarchos for his wife at the time, Charlotte.

  

After Stavros and Charlotte were divorced, Niarchos’s name was bestowed upon the diamond, and he loaned it to various exhibitions. Most notably, The Niarchos was temporarily returned to South Africa in 1966 for the famous ‘Jewel Box 1966’ exhibition.

The Koh-I-Noor

The Koh-I-Noor

Weight 108.93ct rough
Origin India
Shape Brilliant Cut
Color Unrecorded
Clarity Unrecorded

  

Although discovered in the 13th century, this gem only got its name, Koh-I-Noor in 1739 after a Persian conqueror named Nadir Shah conquered Delhi and obtained the diamond. He gave it the name Koh-I-Noor, meaning ‘Mountain of Light.’ The rough diamond weighed 186 carats and was gifted to Queen Victoria in 1850. Two years later it was cut into a round brilliant weighing 108.93 carats. Currently on display in the Tower of London, the diamond has been used in the crowns of numerous kings and queens.

  

The Taylor Burton

 

The Taylor Burton

Weight 69.42ct polished, 240.80ct rough
Origin The Premier Mine, South Africa

  

This 69.42 carat pear-shaped diamond is by far the most famous of actor Richard Burton’s numerous jewelry purchases. Originally cut from a rough stone weighing 240.8 carats, it was discovered in the South African Premier Mine in 1966 and bought by Harry Winston. Winston and his cleaver, Pastor Colon Jr, studied the stone for six months before cutting the stone in front of television cameras, that had unusually been allowed in the workroom for the event. After cleaving the stone, the Colon Jr simply reached across the workbench for the smaller piece of diamond that had separated from it, studied it and exclaimed, “Beautiful!”

 

  

This rough piece weighed 78 carats but the larger piece, which weighed 162 carats, produced this famous pear-shaped diamond, that was worn, set into a necklace, by Burton’s wife, Elizabeth Taylor to Princess Grace’s 40th birthday and to the 42nd Academy Awards gala. It was subsequently sold and recut into a 68 carat diamond.

The Kimberley

 

The Kimberley

Weight 55.09ct polished (previously 70ct polished)
Origin Kimberley, South Africa
Cut Step Cut

  

Found in the Kimberley Mine in South Africa in the 1870s Diamond Rush, this 70-carat diamond is flawless and champagne-colored and cut from a 490 carat rough. In 1921 it was recut into its modern shape from a large, flat stone (which was once housed in the Russian Crown Jewels). Cut again by new owners, Baumgold Bros., New York City, in 1958 to improve its brilliance and proportions, it now weighs 55.09 carats. In 1971 Baumgold Bros. sold the stone to Bruce F Stuart, of the American Carnation Condensed Milk family, in whose family trust it was placed.

Heart of Eternity Diamond

 

Heart of Eternity

Weight 27.64ct polished

  

Renowned for the intensity of its color, this heart-shaped diamond, weighing 27.64 carat, is described as ‘vivid blue.’ In January 2000, it was unveiled along with 11 rare blue diamonds as part of a special collection of De Beers Millennium Jewels. This collection also featured the Millennium Star, and was gathered over many years by the De Beers Group, to celebrate the arrival of a new millennium.

  

Interesting Facts about Diamonds

  

Diamonds mark some of the most precious moments in our lives. Since their discovery they have fascinated people with their allure and brilliance. Discover 25 interesting facts about diamonds you didn’t know you needed to know:

  

  1. Diamonds are the official birthstone for the month of April.
  2. The My Girl diamond is the first internationally-patented diamond cut to originate from South Africa.
  3. Diamonds are the anniversary gemstone for the 10th and 60th years of marriage.
  4. Income from Diamonds enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13.
  5. An estimated 10 million people globally are directly or indirectly supported by the diamond industry.
  6. Approximately $8.5 billion worth of diamonds a year come from African countries.
  7. The revenue from diamonds continues to be instrumental in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
  8. An estimated 65% of the worlds diamonds come from African countries.
  9. An estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds.
  10. Major world leaders - including Nelson Mandela - have cited the importance of diamonds to the lives of African people.