Diamond is forever… De Beers found this slogan to serve their economic interests. However, this means more than just that. Diamonds have been the most glorious materials since ancient times. What makes diamonds that valuable is their inherent features such as rigidness, shine, hardness, and durability. As diamonds have been known since old times, there are also some special diamonds. These extraordinary diamonds create the concept that diamond is forever.
These special, most valuable diamonds, which is the main reason we call diamonds forever today, are very unique stones. The most important of them can be listed as Cullinan, Koh-i Noor, Orloff, Regent, and of course, Hope. In this article, I will tell the stories of these special diamonds to take you on a short journey throughout history that will feel like forever!
Most Valuable Diamonds: Cullinan
In 1905, the manager of the Premier Mine, Mr. Frederick Wells discovered the largest diamond ever found. While doing a routine inspection of the mine late in the afternoon, he suddenly saw something reflecting the last rays of the sun. Intrigued, he decided to take a closer look. The reflected matter was just below the surface. Wells pulled out a large stone that looked like a diamond from the blue ground. At first, he couldn’t believe it was really a diamond because of its size. He thought his workers were playing a joke on him by burying a large piece of glass.
However, after many tests, it turned out to be the largest piece of gemstone ever mined. The diamond weighed 3,106 carats or approximately 600 grams, and its dimensions measured approximately 5 x 6 x 10 cm. Named after the person who opened the Premier Mine: Sir Thomas Cullinan. The shape of the Cullinan diamond was not octahedral. Its largest surface was perfectly flat as if it were the slit plane. Many experts thought the Cullinan diamond was just a tiny fraction of another larger diamond yet to be discovered. Some believed that this large diamond was shattered during the excavation, but this was highly unlikely. The hope of finding the other piece of Cullinan has haunted the dreams of countless miners and prospectors.
The Transvaal Government bought Cullinan and it was presented to King Edward VI on 9 November 1907 to commemorate his 66th birthday. During its transport from South Africa to England, the diamond was insured for $1,250,000. King Edward the 7th delivered this big raw diamond to the famous cutting company “Asscher’s Diamond Co” in Amsterdam. This company had experience in cutting very large stones. He had just cut the Excelsior diamond (995.20 carats in raw) and other large stones.
Cullinan was analyzed for months, and finally, on the tenth of February 1908, Mr. Asscher inserted the steel blade into the “Kerf” groove (V-shaped groove) previously made on the diamond. And once pressed. However, the steel blade was broken and the diamond remained intact. On the second try, the diamond split exactly as planned. With a second slit, three more important parts were produced. These pieces were divided into nine large diamonds, ninety-six small diamonds, and nine and a half-carat rough diamonds. The nine master diamonds now form part of the Crown Jewels of the Royal family of Great Britain. These stones are mounted as follows.
- Cullinan I is a 74-face pear-shaped diamond weighing 530.20 carats. King Edward decided that this diamond should be attached to the scepter. It is now awe-inspiring in the Tower of London. Cullinan I is the largest cut diamond in the world and is actually referred to as the “Great African Star”.
- Cullinan II is a 66-faced pillow-shaped diamond weighing 317.40 carats. It is mounted on the Imperial State Crown and is part of the royal jewels. Cullinan II is on display in the Tower of London.
- Cullinan III is a pear-shaped diamond weighing 94.40 carats. It is mounted on the crown of Queen Mary and is often worn as a pendant brooch with the Cullinan IV.
- Cullinan IV is a square diamond-cut diamond weighing 63.60 carats. It is mounted on the crown of Queen Mary and is often worn as jewelry with the Cullinan III.
- The Cullinan V is a heart-shaped diamond weighing 18.80 carats. Mounted to be used as a brooch or on Queen Mary’s tiara.
- The Cullinan VI is a marquise-cut diamond weighing 11.50 carats. King Edward gifted it to his wife, Queen Alexandra. Elizabeth II now wears it as a pendant. Among these stones cut from the Cullinan raw apple, Cullinan VI is the most used.
- Cullinan VII is another marquise-cut diamond weighing 8.80 carats. A small diamond brooch is attached to the pendant.
- The Cullinan VIII is a 6.80-carat rectangular diamond-cut diamond. It is attached to the center of the brooch that has just been identified.
- Cullinan IX is a pear-shaped diamond weighing 4.39 carats and is attached to a ring made for Queen Mary. Queen Elizabeth II rarely wears this ring.
Most Valuable Diamonds: Koh-i Noor
Among the diamonds described by Jean Baptiste Tavernier, the most famous is Koh-i Noor. Its name is fascinating. Its meaning is “Mountain of Light”, and it is associated with a legend that goes back to ancient times when gods were supposed to have intercourse with humans. One morning on the banks of the Yamina, one of India’s seven sacred rivers, a young girl found a boy. This boy’s forehead was surrounded by a glowing “stone of light”. Her name was Karna, and in reality, she was the son of the Sun-god Surya and the daughter of a princess from the Kaurava ruling family.
In the end, Karna started a righteous war of succession against her cousin, Pandava. Believing that the stone would make him invisible, Karna challenged his cousin Arjuna to a duel. However, Karna was killed and the “Mountain of Light” was covered in dust. A young woman found the stone and brought it to Thanesar, the nearest city where the Mercury temple is located. A Brahmin mounted the diamond on a statue and it remained there for centuries. During this time, there was a belief: “Whoever owns this diamond rules the world. But he must know that the greatest misfortunes will happen to him. For only a god or a woman can wear this stone, confident that she will not be punished.”
These were the laws of Mercury and were the source of the demonic powers given to the Koh-i-Noor. In fact, the Koh-i-Noor was first mentioned as the property of the raja of Malva in 1304. The diamond is said to have come from the Bijapur mine and weighed more than 600 carats when found. There is no documentation to prove it, just in case, it’s true. Then, nothing was heard of diamonds for 200 years until Mughal found the Great Mongolian Dynasty. Among the gifts from the widow and children of the ruler Ibrahim Lodi, who was killed by Mughal, was the “Mountain of Light”, and was then estimated to be “equal to the cost of a day’s expenditures of the whole world.” For two centuries, this perfect diamond remained the property of the Mongols.
In 1738, Emperor Mohammed Shah had to defend his country from the incursions of Nadir Shah, who had seized the Iranian throne. On the thirteenth of February 1739, Muhammad was defeated and Delhi was occupied. But Koh-i-Noor was overlooked in Nadir Shah’s early research. Nadir Shah was able to obtain the diamond thanks to his first wife, Udham Bai, who fell out of favor with Muhammad. Udham Bai told him that the diamond was hidden in the peat. During a feast, Nadir Shah suggested the practice of changing old turbans.
With this trick, Nadir seized the diamond and took it back to Iran. Nadir Shah was killed in 1747. Four monarchs took the throne in four years. The latter, Sayyid Muhammad, tortured his predecessor, Shahrukh Mirza, but Mirza endured the torture. In 1751 Ahmad Shah Durani decided to invade Iran And he rescued Shah Rukh and the Shah gave the diamond to him as a thank you gift. In 1793, the diamond was the property of Zaman Shah, grandson of Ahmed Durani. His brother was deposed by the tyrant Shuja al Mulk and then jailed, but his apple refused to say what he had done.
However, the diamond was found accidentally a few years later, but Shuja did not wear the diamond for a long time. Because he was deposed by his nephew Mahmud. Shuja escaped and settled in a shelter thanks to Ranjit Singh, who forced him to sell the diamond. When asked about the price of the diamond, Shuja replied: “Take five men. Let the first throw a stone as fast as possible to the north, the second to the west, the third to the south, the fourth to the east, and the fifth to the air. Even if you fill this whole area with gold, you still cannot pay the value of the “Mountain of Light”.” Ranjit Singh, king of Punjab, had the diamond mounted on a gold bracelet along with two other diamonds.
This diamond is now displayed in the Tower of London. The diamond is in the form of an Ancient Indian cut and weighed 186 carats at that time. It remained in the Lahore treasury until 1849 when Enli invaded the Punjab country. The powerful company of oriental India has seized the Lahore treasury and gifted the Koh-i-Noor to the young Queen Victoria. The diamond was displayed at the Crystal Palace in London in 1850, but visitors were disappointed with the diamond’s lack of shine due to its cut.
It was then that the queen decided to cut the diamond again and the diamond was sent to the famous Amsterdam cutter Voorsanger. The Koh-i-Noor was recut as an oval cut diamond and lost 77.07 carats in weight during the recut process. Now its weight is 108.93 carats. The Queen was very superstitious and believed in the ancient Indian legend that the diamond gives bad luck to men but not to women.
Therefore, she had stated in her will that if the reigning monarch was a woman she could wear the diamond, and if a man she could wear the diamond only by her wife. This request of the Queen was always met with respect. The diamond was attached to the crown of Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI, in 1937. Among the British Crown Jewels, the Koh-i-Noor is not the most extraordinary, but it certainly has the most interesting history and is the best known in the world.
Most Valuable Diamonds: Orloff
Before he reached the Russian court, Orloff’s problems were very different. As with Koh-i-Noor, Orloff comes from India and its history begins in the mid-18th century. A French fugitive arrives in Surangam in the Old Madras State and hears mention of a temple where the idol of the god Sri Ranga is located. He was told that his eyes are made of two diamonds. At that time this situation was very common in India. One of the diamonds was extraordinary. It was very pure and had a blue-green color. It got the name “sea sun” because of its color. India was in the form of a rose-cut and had the dimensions and shape of an “egg half”. Its weight was 194.75 carats.
A crazy plan immediately sprang up in the French man’s efficient but immoral mind. Thanks to his perseverance, he was accepted into the temple as a master by the Brahmans who served the temple. One night while he was alone in the temple, he easily stole the diamond and immediately went to Madras. There he sold the diamond for £2,000 (+/- now $100,000) to the captain of a British Ship. A few months later, in London, he sold the captain’s apple for £12,000: at least that was the price he told the next Iranian buyer, Khojeh.
He never said how much he paid to buy the Khojeh diamond. Khojeh was a merchant and had bought the diamond for one purpose: to resell it at a greater profit. Khojeh tried in vain to sell the diamond in London before leaving for Amsterdam. Only the Royal family and the European imperial Palace could afford to buy such a diamond. But Khojeh did not bother to go to the palace. Just as she was about to lose all hope of selling the Iranian diamond, Prince Grigori Grigorievitch met Orloff.
Orloff was the neglected favorite of Russia’s 2nd Catherine. Orloff was not actually humiliated: the Empress still took great interest in him, but she had given her heart to Vassilitchikoff. This person quickly defeated Grigori Alexandrovitch Potemkin. Disappointed in love and passion, Orloff left Russia and traveled to Europe. It was during this trip that Orloff met Khojeh in Amsterdam. When Orloff heard about the extraordinary diamond, he had only one thing in mind: presenting it to Catherina.
For Khojeh at that time, the only goal was to sell the diamond for the highest possible price, and in this game, the Iranian Khojeh was number one: Orloff bought the “Sun of the Sea” for an astronomical price of 400,000 rubles. Grigori returned to Russia and presented this exquisite jewel to Catherina on a day of celebration. Catherine accepted the gift, but never wore it. He had it mounted on Russia’s imperial scepter. The diamond is still there, and awe-inspiring in the Kremlin treasury. Because of the time when it was gifted to Catherine, the diamond became known as the Orloff diamond. Orloff died in 1783 in a mental institution for the mentally ill.
Most Valuable Diamonds: Regent
The Regent Diamond also has its own legend. This diamond was mined from the Partial mine in 1698 and was one of the last large diamonds found in India. One version of the legend relates the details of the Regent’s discovery and purchase by Thomas Pitt, governor of Fort St George and St David in Madras. According to legend: the diamond was found by a prisoner. The prisoner injured himself while trying to hide the diamond under a bandage.
He had told an English captain about his discovery and promised to give him the diamond in exchange for his freedom. One day, while onboard, the captain seized the diamond and threw the prisoner into the sea. Later, the captain sold the apple for £1,000.” Indeed, in Pitt’s version, we have no reason to believe him, Pitt says he bought the apple for £19,200 from a merchant named Jaurchund. In 1702 he sent his son Robert to Europe to cut the diamond.
The cut was made by British Jeweler Harris. It took Harris two years to cut this diamond. A perfect diamond weighing 140.50 was obtained from the rough diamond. When Pitt returned to England, there were many bad rumors about how he got the diamond. To dispel the rumors, Pitt released a full report of the diamond’s origin.
Possession of this diamond poisoned Pitt’s life. It is said that he became obsessed with the fear of losing the diamond or having it stolen. He was reluctant to show the diamond even to his closest friends. He never slept in the same place for two nights in a row and never told anyone about his travel plans. At that time the diamond was called the “Great Pitt” or “Pitt’s Diamond”, and the diamond was presented to one European monarch after another, including Louis XIV. The diamond was turned down because the price was found to be too high.
In 1717, Pitt finally found the regent of France, Philippe d’Orleans. After much hesitation, Saint-Simon and Philip by force of law decided to buy the diamond as the property of the Crown for 135,000 pounds. From that moment on, the name of the diamond became “regent”. The Duke of Orleans made a wise purchase: in 1774 the diamond was worth £405,000, at the start of the revolution in 1791 its value had risen to £810,000. But in 1792 he disappeared, along with the royal jewels, stolen from the “Garde-Meuble National”.
On the tenth of November 1793, the Regent’s diamond was found in the granary of a Parisian’s house. In 1800, Bonaparte had the diamond mounted on his sword, and it was in the mace of his straight sword when he was consecrated as Emperor of France in 1804. With Napoleon’s abdication in 1814, Empress Marie-Louise took the Regent’s diamond and all the other jewels of the kingdom to Austria. However, his father, Emperor Francis I of Austria, forced him to take all the diamonds to Louis XV.
Louis the 18th took the jewels back to Paris in 1815. Between 1815 and 1887 the diamond was stuck in a few jewelry pieces. In 1877, the Third Republic decided to sell the French Crown jewels. Regent was one of the few gems preserved. Since then, the diamond has been exhibited in the Louvre, in the Apollon Gallery.
Most Valuable Diamonds: Hope
If there is one diamond that is considered the most fascinating, it is the “Large Blue Diamond”, commonly known as the “hope”. There are many long stories about the history of this diamond and people call it the “Cursed Diamond” because they believe it brings bad luck. But all these stories have no basis. In fact, the diamond was brought from India by Tavernier and sold to Louis 14th in 1669. In 1672, the “Blue Diamond” was given to Pitan to be cut, and Pitan cut it in the shape of a heart. Its weight decreased from 112 carats to 68.80 carats.
In 1749, it was placed, along with ruby, in the “Toison D’or” frame that the King had ordered from jeweler Jacquemin. It remained there until the Revolution when it was stolen along with other royal jewels in 1792. It later emerged as the property of a man named Cadet-Guillot, who fled to London. There, the “Blue Diamond” was cut again, and after this re-cut, it became the Hope diamond.
In 1830, a magnificent 44.50-carat blue diamond was sold in London without specifying its source and was purchased for 18,000 pounds by the banker Henry Philip Hope, after whom the diamond was named. The diamond remained the property of the Hope family until 1908. That year, because of his debt, Lord Hope sold the diamond to the “red Sultan”, who was deposed a second time in 109. In 1911, the Red Sultan sold the diamond to the famous Parisian jeweler Pierre Cartier. Shortly after that, the American press magnate, Edward B. Mc Lean, son of the owner of the Washington Post, and his wife Evelyn bought the diamond.
Ms. McLean wore the diamond until her death in 1947. It was bought by the famous American jeweler Harry Winston in 1949 for $179,920. Winston, who held the diamond for ten years, offered it to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The owner of the diamond is still this institution. The presentation took place without much fuss: On November 8, 1958, the Smithsonian Institution received a $2.44 postage package from the Smithsonian and paid $151.00 for insurance: Inside that package was the Hope diamond. Since then, the diamond has been watched by hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Smithsonian.