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The World's Most Famous Diamonds

Jul 17, 2008
Only a percentage of all harvested diamonds are actually gemstone quality - giving diamonds their rare reputation. So when a diamond is able to capture the world's attention as one of the world's famous diamonds, it must be truly exceptional. Diamonds are revered for their hardness as well as their high dispersion of light. However, some of the world's diamonds have been made famous not necessarily because of their quality but because of the story behind the diamond.

The Great Star of Africa

At 530.20 carats, the Great Star of Africa currently listed as the largest cut diamond in the world. It is pear shaped with 74 facets and is part of the "royal scepter" being held in the Tower of London with the other Crown Jewels. This amazing diamond was first cut from the Cullian, the largest diamond crystal ever discovered at 3106 carats, which was used to create 96 similar stones. Discovered in the year 1095, the Great Star of Africa is famous not only because of its size, but thanks to a legend that suggests the other "half" of the Cullian may have existed, making it one impressively sized diamond crystal.

Taylor-Burton Diamond

First discovered in 1966, the Taylor-Burton Diamond came from the Premier Mine in South Africa. Its original weight was 240.80 carats which was eventually cut into a 69.42 pear-shaped jewel. Its connection to celebrity is what makes this diamond famous. The diamond was purchased by actor Richard Burton for his wife Elizabeth Taylor, who co-starred with him in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." Burton paid $1,100,000 for the diamond - still considered an astronomical price some 40 years later. After Burton's death in the 1970s, Taylor sold the stone to charity for $2.8 million, allowing the stone to go to a museum. Today, is resides in Saudi Arabia.

The Orloff

A bluish green stone, the Orloff is considered to be an exceptionally pure gem made famous by its history. Legend holds that the stone began its life being used as the diamond eye of the Hindu idol of Vishnu, located inside the sanctuary temple in Sriagam. In the 1700s, the stone was stolen, and later passed into the hands of the Russian Count Grigon Orloff, a paramour of legendary Empress Catherine the Great. Orloff heard the rumors of the stone and brought it to Catherine to earn her favor. Although he could never earn her love, he did unknowingly eternalize his name in the process. Napoleon later sought the stone; however his Army became wary of the stone after a ghost warned them of the consequences. Currently, the diamond is being held in the Diamond Treasury of Russia in Moscow.

The Centenary Diamond

Introduced to the world as recently as 1986, the Centenary Diamond weighs 273.85 carats, coming from a rough carat weight of 599. In total, the diamond contains 247 facets. It took three years to craft the stone into what is known today as the world's largest, most modern cut and flawless diamond in existence. The Centenary is only surpassed in size by the Great Star of Africa diamond and the Lesser Star of Africa. The stone was unveiled in 1991 at the Tower of London, and although it was never officially appraised, it is believed to be worth more than $100 million. Once owned by DeBeers, today its owner remains anonymous.

The Regent

Once considered the heaviest diamond in the world, the Regent today is regarded as the most beautiful diamond ever seen. The stone was originally discovered in 1698 in India and owned by Thomas Pitt, Governor of Madras. It then came into the hands of French Prince Phillippe II, the Duke of Orleans in 1717. The French royals used the stone for the crown of Louis XV, as well as for the crown of Louis XVI, and as an adornment in a hat worn by Marie Antoinette. During the Revolution, the Regent was stolen and recovered. Napoleon Bonaparte used the stone in his sword until his death, when it was finally transported back to Austria by his second wife, Marie Louise of Austria. Later, Mary Louise's father returned the Regent to France where it again became part of the French Crown Jewels. Today, the Regent is at home in the French Royal Treasury at the Louvre.

The Hope Diamond

Perhaps the most famous diamond of all, the Hope Diamond weighs 45.52 carats and is named after jeweler Henry Thomas Hope. It is believed to be the same Blue Tavernier Blue Diamond that was discovered in 1642. The diamond was owned by King Louis XIV who had the stone re-cut to further enhance its brilliance. It disappeared during the French Revolution and was never officially recovered; however there are claims that it is the same diamond that was purchased by Henry Thomas Hope in 1830. The Hope Diamond is believed to place a curse on its owners. For instance, Hope's son lost his fortune after inheriting the diamond. Following its purchase by Mrs. Edward McLean, the family suffered a series of fatal events and the eventual suicide of Mrs. McLean herself. As the legend and curse of the diamond grew, few wanted to even touch the stone when it was presented again in 1949. Today, the Hope Diamond can be seen at the Smithsonian Institute of Washington.
About the Author
Lewis Jewelers is proud to carry the full line of Pandora Jewelry. Pandora bracelets, Pandora charms and Pandora beads are only a part of the collection. For more information, Lewis Jewelers, 2000 West Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48103, 877-88-LEWIS or visit the website.
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