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About Diamonds

Formation of diamonds

  

Diamonds are considered the world’s oldest treasure, having formed over 3.3 billion years ago, 200km below the Earths surface. Under conditions of intense 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 may be up to 45 million years old. Variations of temperature and pressure can significantly impact the formation of diamonds, and if the conditions are not ideal, it could result in the dissolution of diamonds.

 

rough diamond
A Shimansky diamond in the rough.

 

Molten Kimberlite (also known as magma) are also formed within the Earths upper mantle under conditions of intense heat and pressure causing it to 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. 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, thus making such eruptions more likely.


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.

 

kimberlite pipe and diamond formation
Kimberlite pipe below the earths 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 is testimony to the rarity of diamonds, and serves as a reminder that a diamond is a unique gift from Mother Nature, unrushed in its formation, and extremely valuable due to its scarcity.


Diamonds are mined by means of various techniques, and on average, 250 tonnes of ore is mined to produce a one carat gem-quality polished diamond.
The Ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were tears from the gods, and that they had mystical and magical properties. Though the perception of diamonds has changed somewhat since then, these precious stones have retained their ability to fascinate all who look at them. With an expert level of skill the Shimansky diamond cutters and polishers bring a rough diamond to life and showcase its brilliance, fire and scintillation – and most importantly to reach its full potential.


The word “diamond” comes from the Greek word “Adamas,” meaning “indestructible.” The strongest material known to man, a diamond consists purely of carbon, making it the only gem comprising of a single element (it consists of 99.95% carbon). The remaining 0.5% is believed to consist of trace elements, which can have an effect on the color of a diamond, but are not a part of its chemical structure or molecular make-up. Found in abundance, carbon takes on many forms: the difference between a diamond and a lump of coal, is essentially their molecular structures.


Coal or charcoal has an amorphous structure, and contains organic molecules of decomposed plant and animal matter. Like diamonds, it was also formed deep within the Earth’s crust. Diamonds, however, 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. 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 abundant in Africa, South America and parts of the East. The first diamonds are believed to have been discovered in the rivers and streams of India in 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 bountiful 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, skill and attention to detail from our master diamond cutters and polishers for the rough stone to be transformed into a mesmerizing display of light in a jewelry creation. Beautiful and rare, a diamond’s unique journey of formation gives it its unique qualities, as well as its ability to shine with unrivaled brilliance. The most precious gem of all, a diamond’s journey from the core of the Earth, to the finger of the one it was meant for, is not only fascinating, but magical.

 

History

 

The discovery of diamonds in South Africa played a pivotal 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 from an African mine.

 

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 neighbourhood 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 intruding on their land in 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 gathered in Kimberley to make money mining diamonds in South Africa. More than 22 million tonnes of earth was removed from what is now known as “The Big Hole” in Kimberley, and approximately three tonnes of diamonds were removed. 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, at the time, being responsible for producing 95% of the world’s diamonds. Today, The Big Hole is a well-known 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 and well-known 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.

 

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 Britain’s royal family.

 

sorting diamonds

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 and well-known 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.


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 Britain’s royal family.

 

rough diamonds

 

Diamonds in South Africa have a history of almost 150 years, and their discovery in Kimberley made them readily available to the Western 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 direct 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

 

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 extractor 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

 

 

After thousands of years of wind and rain, the Kimberlite pipe that reaches the Earth’s surface gets eroded. Rough diamonds from the Kimberlite gets carried downstream in rivers and streams. 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 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 on the seabed up through flexible hoses or pipes. In the earlier days of marine mining, a swimmer would collect diamond bearing gravel from the shallow seabed.

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

 


 

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 inserted 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 that involve magnetic susceptibility, x-ray luminescence and crystallographic laser fluorescence. These processes are calculated based on the unique properties of diamonds. 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 which are detected by sensors. This sends a signal to a microprocessor, which 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 on site.

 

Cutting and Polishing

 

A diamond is a tangible tribute to unforgettable moments. In its rough form it has potential, its size simply a promise of what it might be. Only in the hands of master craftsmen does a diamond realize its true potential.


With a license to purchase diamonds in the rough, each rough stone is carefully selected by Shimansky and polished to perfection to release its true brilliance.

 

Diamond cutting and polishing is the process of transforming a rough diamond into a brilliant, faceted display of light. It is an art that the Shimansky craftsmen have mastered, and in addition, it is 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 perfectly aligned in order to ensure the mesmerizing 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 that unrivaled attention to detail is applied every step of the way.

 

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 greatest 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 utilize their mastery to 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 and fascinating art of cutting and polishing.

 


Unrushed, Shimansky diamond cutters and polishers take their time with each and every gem, ensuring it reaches its maximum potential. State-of-the-art technology, combined with ancient cutting and polishing traditions yield mesmerizing Shimansky diamonds that leave even those with a trained eye, speechless.

 

Diamond Cutting & Polishing Process

 

diamond analysis

 

Step 1: Analyzing

 

The first and vital step in the diamond cutting and polishing process is the analysis of the rough diamond. This step requires all-consuming imagination, skill and precision by an experienced diamond cutter. 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 affords him the ability to determine the best possible cut for the rough stone.


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

 diamond marking

 

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

 diamond sawing

 

Step 3: Sawing

 

Have you ever wondered what happens to precious diamond dust that’s left over after a rough diamond has been cut? 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 diamond powder. 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 known to man, 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 desired result. Diamond Blocking

 diamond blocking

 

Step 4: Blocking

 

Laying the foundation for a diamond’s potential, blocking establishes a stone’s basic symmetry by creating the first 17 or 18 facets. 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 and fire of the diamond. 

 diamond polishing

 

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 journey of a Shimansky diamond begins with an uncut stone sourced direct 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.

 

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 honour of Sir Thomas Cullinan, the founder of the Premier Mine. The diamond was divided into 9 major gemstones, 96 smaller stones and about 19.5cts of unpolished pieces. The two largest gems were kept for England’s regalia and the rest went to Asscher as payment. King Edward bought one of the major gems for his consort, Queen Alexandra. The Transvaal government bought the remaining stones and pieces, and presented the other 6 major gems to Queen Mary in 1910. Two of the small stones were presented to 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 crystal, 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 a pear shape with 74 facets and is found in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, mounted in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross. It was cut from the 3106 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 considered one of the most famous diamonds in the world. It is notorious for supposedly being cursed and has a long recorded history. It received its name from Henry Thomas Hope. This diamond was believed to have a great mystical power that surrounded 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 said to be the second largest stone ever found. Until 1905 when the larger Cullinan was found, the Excelsior was the largest known diamond in the world. It had a blue-white tine and had an unusual shape - flat on one side and rose 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, of which is a marquise of 69.80ct.

 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, but upon inspection it revealed inclusions. It was then recut into seven smaller stones, the largest of which weighs 35.52ct. A rare characteristic of the stone is its perfect chemical purity. It is ranked 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 as the “Unnamed Brown” and was considered something of an ugly duckling by most. 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 the crown jewels.

The Centenary

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 world’s second largest modern-cut flawless diamond and the largest fancy cut diamond in the world. It is remarkable for its many facets (164 on the stone and 83 on the girdle) and is the only diamond to combine the oldest methods with the most modern technology in cutting. The rough diamond resembled an irregular matchbox with angular planes, a prominent elongated “horn” jutting out 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 about the diamond and all were sworn to silence. De Beers later unveiled The Centenary Diamond on the company’s 100th birthday in 1988.

The Eureka

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 first diamond discovered in South Africa and led to the Kimberley Diamond Rush. It was found by chance on the banks of the Orange River, near Kimberley, in 1867 by 15-year-old Erasmus Jacobs. He handed it to his neighbour, Schalk van Niekerk, who was a collector of unusual stones. Van Niekerk handed over the stone to a travelling pedlar, John O’Reilly, who sent it to Dr W.G. Atherstone of Grahamstown, who was one of few people who knew about gems and minerals. Dr. Atherstone identified the stone as a 21.25ct brownish-yellow diamond and was sold to Sir Phillip Wodehouse for GBP1,500. It was cut to a 10.73ct cushion-shaped brilliant.

The Incomparable

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. A young girl encountered the diamond in a pile of rubble collected from old mine dumps. It was considered to be cut into the world’s largest gem, but the size was reduced for the sake of having fewer internal flaws. The rough stone was cut into one large diamond (the Incomparable) and 14 smaller diamonds, which range from colorless to deep rich brown. This diamond is remarkable for its internally flawless clarity, its unusual triolette shape and its natural fancy brownish-yellow color.

The Jubilee

The Jubilee

Weight 245.35ct polished, 650.80ct rough
Clarity VVS2
Origin Free State, South Africa (Originally known as the Orange Free State)
Shape Cushion Cut
Color E

 

Initially known as the Reitz Diamond, The Jubilee Diamond was discovered by workers in 1895 in the Jagersfontein Mine. It weighed 650.80ct rough, and at the time of its discovery, it was the second largest diamond known to man. Today, it is the world’s sixth largest diamond. It was cut into two large diamonds, both admired for their remarkable 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, as well as The Exelsior, 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

 

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 crystal was discovered in the De Beers Mine. Impressively large, it weighed 428.5 old carats – “old carats” was the non-metric carat before 1913 – and it measured 47.6mm through its longest axis and 38.1mm square. The De Beers Diamond, at the time of its discovery, was the largest diamond discovered at the four mines at Kimberley (excluding Victoria, whose source is doubted and unconfirmed).

Excluding the Nizam (a partially-cut stone which is now lost), the De Beers is the world’s seventh largest faceted diamond, weighing 234.65 carats. Though it is uncertain where the diamond was cut, it is likely that the work was done in Amsterdam, which was emerging as a diamond cutting center at the time.

The De Beers was purchased by the Maharaja of Patiala after it was on display in Paris. It was set as the centrepiece of a necklace created by Cartier of Paris in 1928 which became known as the Patiala Necklace. During the 1930s the De Beers Diamond was acquired by its present owners who in 1973, loaned it to be displayed in an exhibition in Israel.

The Jonker

The Jonker

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

 

Discovered by Mr. Jonker on 16 January 1934, The Jonker Diamond was bought by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer for US $700 000. Twelve brilliant stones were obtained from the rough diamond, the largest of which weighed 142.9ct and was named The Jonker.

The Premier Rose

 

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 the Cullinan Diamond (1306 carat), and in March of 1978, it produced yet another extraordinary diamond. Weighing 353.9 carats, this diamond, with its triangular-shaped cleavage of the finest color traveled through a number of stages of mining recovery before emerging at the grease table in the recovery plant. The Premier Rose weighs 137.02 carats, and is known as one of the largest D-color flawless diamonds in the world.

The Tiffany Yellow

 

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 when it was discovered in the rough in 1878 at the Kimberley Mine, South Africa. To maximize and accentuate its brilliance, it was cut into a cushion shape diamond, weighing 128.54 carats, with 90 facets (32 more facets than that of the traditional round brilliant cut diamond). The Tiffany Yellow Diamond appeared in the ‘Bird on a Rock’ – a 1960s setting by Jean Schlumberger, loaned by Tiffany & Co., New York.

The Niarchos Diamond

 

The Niarchos Diamond

 Weight 128.25ct polished, 426.5ct rough
Shape Pear Cut

 

The Niarchos Diamond was internally flawless and weighed 426.5 carats. It was slightly chipped, most likely as a result of contact with the mine’s underground crusher. Sir Ernest Oppenheimer thought it had the most perfect color he had ever seen in a diamond, and his opinion was shared by many fortunate enough to see it. Unnamed, the diamond was shipped to London, and in February 1956 the Diamond Trading Company announced that a sale of rough diamonds of GBP 3 000 000 was made to Harry Winston Inc. of New York. At the time, this was the largest single sale ever made to one of its clients.

 

The diamond was cut into a pear shape with 58 facets, plus 86 facets around its girdle and weighing 128.25 carats. Nicknamed the ‘Ice Queen’ by de Haan, the Niarchos Diamond was unveiled to the world on 27 February 1957. In April 1958, National Geographic Magazine featured an article on diamonds which detailed the cutting process of the Niarchos.

 

Shortly thereafter, the late Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos purchased the gem for Charlotte Ford, his wife at the time. He reportedly paid US $2 000 000. Members of the Ford family referred to it as ‘the Skating Rink,’ but Niarchos was undisturbed by their comments, having also purchased two other gems that yielded from the 426 carat rough diamond.

 

After their divorce, Niarchos’s name was bestowed upon the diamond, and he generously lent it to be displayed in various exhibitions. The Niarchos was returned to South Africa in 1966 for the famous ‘Jewel Box 1966’ exhibition. After his death in 1996, no further information about the Niarchos Diamond has been released.

The Koh-I-Noor

The Koh-I-Noor

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

 

Discovered in roundabout the 13th century, this gem received its name, Koh-I-Noor in 1739 after a Persian conqueror named Nadir Shah took Delhi and obtained the diamond. He gave it the name Koh-I-Noor, meaning ‘Mountain of Light.’ The diamond weighed 186 carats and was given 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 Richard Burton’s purchases. Cut from a rough stone weighing 240.8 carats, it was discovered in the Premier Mine in 1966 and was bought by Harry Winston. Winston and his cleaver, Pastor Colon Jr, studied the stone for six months. To show where the stone could be cleaved, markings were made, erased and redrawn. When the day appointed for cleaving arrived, the usual tensions associated with such a project were heightened due to the fact that television cameras had been allowed in the workroom. After cleaving the stone, the cleaver said nothing, but reached across the workbench for the piece of diamond that had separated from it, studied it through his horn-rimmed glasses and exclaimed, “Beautiful!”

 

This rough piece weighed 78 carats, and was expected to yield a stone of roughly 24 carats. The large piece, which weighed 162 carats, was to produce a pear-shaped diamond, and was expected to weigh 75 carats.

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, this 70-carat diamond is flawless and champagne-colored. In 1921 it was recut into its modern shape from a large, flat stone (which was once housed in the Russian Crown Jewels). Recut by its owners, Baumgold Bros., New York City, in 1958 to improve its brilliance and proportions, it now weighs 55.09 carats, and was valued at US $500 000. In 1971 Baumgold Bros. sold the stone to an undisclosed collector.

Heart of Eternity

 

Heart of Eternity

Weight 27.64ct polished

 

Renowned for the intensity of its color, this heart-shaped stone, 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 are a salute to the precious moments in our lives. Since their discovery they have fascinated man with their allure and brilliance. Discover 25 interesting facts about diamonds you should 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. Diamond revenues 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 is 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.