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Today a handful of diamonds have come to be known as
symbols of history, legacy and magical lore. They own grand names to mark their
significance and behind each of these spectacular diamonds lay a rich,
magnificent story of history, discovery and technical achievement.
De Beers Millennium Star A diamond so flawless and so great in size that the world's
diamond experts cannot put a price on it. Discovered in the Republic of the
Congo , De Beers mined the Star in the early nineties. It took over three years
for their diamond cutters to shape the stone with lasers. What emerged was the
world's only internally and externally flawless, 203-carat, pear-shaped
No stone on earth has as rich and fascinating a
history as the Koh-i-noor. The lineage of this great diamond began in 1304 when
it was held by the Rajah of Malwa. This was a time when possession of such a
gem symbolized the power of an empire. In fact, it has been said that he who
owns the Koh-i-noor rules the world. In 1738, after successfully invading Delhi
, the next conquest of Nadir Shah of Persia was to acquire the great stone.
Legend has it that a member of Emperor Mohammed Shah's harem informed Nadir
Shah that the jewel was kept hidden in the emperor's turban.
Later that night, when Nadir Sha h unfolded the
host's turban he discovered the gem. Upon seeing it he exclaimed, "Koh-i-noor,"
meaning "mountain of light." Nadir Shah then brought the jewel back to Persia .
There it remained until 1849 when the British annexed the Punjab and took
possession of it.
Three years later, after a public viewing in London
, crowds expressed disappointment in the lack of brilliance in the stone. So it
was decided that the gem be re-cut to accentuate its brilliance, thereby
reducing its size from the 186-carat diamond to its present size of
In 1853, there was some question as to whether
Queen Victoria would return the grand stone for fear of the misfortune it was
rumored to bring. She answered the query by having it mounted in a tiara,
joining more than two thousand other royal diamonds.
Toady the legal ownership of the Koh-i-Noor still
remains a wrangle among world leaders vying for its possession.
The Centenary Diamond
The discovery of the Centenary diamond was made official in
1988, on the eve of De Beers's one-hundredth anniversary. In fact, it was
during the banquet celebrating the company's centennial mark that the discovery
of the perfectly colored, 599-carat diamond was first announced to the public.
The diamond was discovered when De Beers' laser equipment detected a large mass
in one of the walls of its mines. The mass resembled an irregular matchbox
whose largest flat surface was concave. To complicate matters, the planes of
this stone were angular and there was a horn protruding from the top. In order
to bring this mass to life as a polished diamond, a master cutter had to be
found. The irregular shape of the rough stone meant that only the most skilled
craftsman would be able to reveal the diamond's inner beauty without ruining
the stone completely.
De Beers commissioned Gabi Tolkowsky, one of the world's most
renowned stone cutters. His first decision had to be where and how to cut. He
finally decided that, in spite of its unusual proportions, he would cut it as
one single, large diamond. One hundred and fifty-four days later, Tolkowsy had
removed fifty carats of the magnificent stone. What remained of the original
"matchbox" stone was a 520-carat diamond. This diamond remains as the largest
modern cut diamond in the world today.
In 1905, as miners filed out after a long day in South Africa 's
Premier mine, one miner noticed what appeared to be a shiny object lodged in
the earth. With nothing more than a pocket knife, he pried it lose from the
ground and presented it to his mine manager. This humble discovery is regarded
today as one of the greatest diamond discoveries of all time.
When no buyers were found for the great stone, it was decided
that the diamond would be made into a gift for King Edward VII of England . It
was decided that the great stone would be cut into two smaller stones: Cullinan
I and Cullinan II. The larger of the two (Cullinan I) was renamed the "Great
Star of Africa." The cutting of the Cullinan was so successful that the two new
gems became part of the Crown Jewels of England .The Cullinan II, humbly
measuring 1.7 x 1.5 inches, was handsomely set in the brow of the British
Imperial State Crown.
The Taylor Burton
Richard Burton presented Elizabeth Taylor with one of the world's largest and
most beautiful diamonds. If any gem could be noticed next to
the beauty of Elizabeth Taylor it was this 69-carat, pear-shaped diamond.
The stone was unearthed at the Premier mine of South Africa in 1966. And it was
Harry Winston who cut and polished the rough stone from its original size of
244-carats. It has been moving in and out of auction houses, and the last
recorded sale was to an anonymous Saudi buyer for $3,000,000.
The De Beers Diamond
It was not long after De Beers Corporation set about the business of mining
diamonds that their first major discovery surfaced. A stone weighing
428.5-carats was unearthed from the Kimberly mines of South Africa . At 228.5
carats after its polishing it was thought to be the worlds largest cut diamond
in 1889. It has the honor of being the fourth largest cut diamond in the world.