Diamonds are beautiful things, but some are more beautiful than others. In fact, the seven you're about to see below are arguably the most famous and the most precious in the entire world. Not only have they been bestowed with their own proper nouns, but they also have histories of royal ownership and weigh up to 3,100 carats. Are you ready to see the world's most famous diamonds? Let's go:
1. The Hope Diamond
The Hope Diamond was mined in 17th-century India and was sold to King Louis XIV of France in 1668. It was recut into a 67-carat stone by his jeweler several years later. In 1749, King Louis XV had the stone recut yet again. It was turned over to the French government together with the rest of the French royal jewels during the French Revolution, only for it to be stolen in September 1792. It disappeared until 1830 when it was said to be in the possession of a London diamond merchant.
Its next owner was Henry William Hope, who took possession of it in 1839, and this is why it came to be known as the Hope Diamond during his ownership. It was then sold to Pierre Cartier in 1909 following Hope’s death, who then sold it to a Washington DC socialite. The next owner was jeweler Harry Winston, who purchased it in 1949 before sending it on a decade-long world tour. The Hope Diamond has been in the Smithsonian Institution ever since 1958. It weighs 45.52 carats and is insured for between $200 and $250 million.
2. The Cullinan Diamond
Weighing in at 3,106 carats, the Cullinan Diamond is quite simply the largest diamond ever discovered. It was discovered at South Africa’s Premier Mine in 1905 and was named after Thomas Cullinan, the man who owned it. It was presented as a gift to King Edward VII of England in its rough, natural state in 1907. The Amsterdam firm I.J. Asscher received the royal commission to cut the stone, and it produced nine numbered stones (Cullinans I-IX, one of which you can see above), as well as 96 small brilliants and nine carats of unpolished fragments. Cullinan I and II are the two largest colorless and flawless cut diamonds in the world. The former weighs 530 carats and is set in the Sovereign’s Sceptre, which is part of the regalia made for King Charles II of England. The latter weighs 317.40 carats and graces the band of the British Imperial State Crown.
3. The Centenary Diamond
Another mine that came from the Premier Mine in South Africa is the 273-carat Centenary Diamond. It was discovered by diamond firm De Beers in 1986. The company cleverly hid its discovery for a full two years in order to announce it during its centenary year, thus calling it the Centenary Diamond. It weighed almost 600 carats in the rough, and it was even cut in an underground facility that was designed specifically for the purpose. The result was a 273-carat and 247-facet stone that is insured for upwards of $100 million. It’s rumored that De Beers sold the diamond to a private buyer but won’t elaborate on the claim, citing client confidentiality.
4. The Tiffany Yellow Diamond
Charles Lewis Tiffany, the founder of Tiffany & Co., purchased a 287-carat yellow diamond that was discovered in South Africa’s Kimberley Mine in 1877. It was the largest yellow diamond ever mined and was cut into a brilliant 128-carat finished product. It famously appeared in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s starring Audrey Hepburn, when it was set in the Ribbon Rosette necklace. It was reset in a diamond and platinum necklace to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Tiffany & Co. brand in 2012. It’s now on display at the company’s flagship store in New York City.
5. Regent Diamond
Discovered in the Kollur Mine in India all the way back in 1698, the Regent Diamond has resided in the Denon wing of Paris’ Musee de Louvre ever since 1877. The stone is sometimes referred to as the Pitt Diamond, and that’s because it was sent by the British governor of Madras, Thomas Pitt, to Britain in order to be cut. The 426-carat stone was then acquired for the French Crown by Regent Philippe d’Orleans in 1717. It was cut into a 141-carat, cushion-cut brilliant stone after a full two years of work, and it was subsequently passed down from one French monarch to another. It’s now on display, and worth an estimated $62 million.
6. Orlov Diamond
This beautiful diamond sits atop the Imperial Scepter at Moscow’s Kremlin Diamond Fund. It was mined at India’s Kollur Mine, where the Hope and Regent Diamonds were also mined, and weighed some 787 carats in the rough. It was at one time fitted into the eye of a deity in a temple on Srirangam Island, however, it was stolen in 1747 by a soldier posing as a worshipper. The diamond made its way to Europe before it was sold to a diamond merchant named Shaffrass. In turn, he passed it on to Count Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov, the Russian nobleman and officer who helped his lover Catherine the Great overthrow Peter III and ascend the throne. It was mounted in the Scepter in 1784 and weighs 189 carats.