Some of the world’s most famous Diamonds
"Discover the fascinating stories of world renowned gem stones"
The Cullinan, 3,106.75 carats (621.35 grams), is the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever discovered. The Cullinan was found by miner Thomas Evan Powell on January 26, 1905 in a mine in South Africa and was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine.
The massive diamond was bought by the South African government and presented to British King Edward VII on his birthday; however, a security problem was posed when the Cullinan was to be transported from South Africa to England.
Detectives from London were placed on a steamboat headed for Europe with a fake stone, which was rumoured to be the Cullinan. This was a divisionary tactic, intended to attract thieves who might be interested in stealing the massive diamond.
The actual Cullinan diamond was safely shipped to England in the standard mailing system via parcel post.
The Cullinan has since been cut into nine smaller stones, with the biggest of them known as the Great Star of Africa.
The name of this diamond means "Mountain of Light" and its history is the longest of all famous diamonds. Firstly, in 1304, this diamond was found in possession of the Raja of Malwa, later, it was captured by Mogul Sultan Babar. This was a time when possession of such a stone symbolized the power of an empire.
In 1739, Nadir Shah of Persia successfully invaded Delhi. His systematic pillage of the city failed to uncover the huge stone, but then he was told by one of the harem women that the conquered Emperor Mohammed Shah had hidden it inside his turban. At the victory celebration party, Nadir Shah invited his captive to a feast and suggested they exchange turbans, the emperor partake in a well-known oriental custom whereby the two leaders would exchange turbans. Retiring from the feast, he unrolled the turban and released the great gem. Seeing it he exclaimed "Koh-i-Noor", meaning "Mount of Light".
Then, Nadir Shah brought the gem back and took it back to Persia, but he was assassinated in 1747 and the diamond was fought over by his successors. It was in the jewel chamber of Lahore, capital of Punjab, but when that state was annexed to British India in 1849, the East India Company took it as a partial indemnity for the Sikh Wars.
The Koh-i-Noor was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 to mark the 250th anniversary of the founding of the East India Company. When the large stone was displayed at the Crystal Palace Exposition, people were disappointed that the diamond did not show more fire.
So, Queen Victoria decided to have recut to enhance its brilliance and fire, which reduced the 190 carats diamond to its present size. In 1911, a new crown was made for the coronation of Queen Mary with the Koh-i-Noor as the centre stone.
In 1937, it was transferred to the crown of Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother) for her coronation. It is now on display with the British Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.
The Hope Diamond is the world's largest deep blue diamond in public view today. It is famous for its striking colour and its fascinating history of bringing bad luck to its owners. This attractive stone is also having a history of stolen and recovered, sold and resold, cut and recut.
The Hope Diamond is one of the most famous jewels in the world, with ownership records dating back almost four centuries. Its much-admired rare blue colour is due to trace amounts of boron atoms. Weighing 45.52 carats, its exceptional size has revealed new findings about the formation of gemstones.
The jewel is believed to have originated in India, where the original (larger) stone was purchased in 1666 by French gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier as the Tavernier Blue.
The Tavernier Blue was cut and yielded the French Blue (Le bleu de France), which Tavernier sold to King Louis XIV in 1668. Stolen in 1791, it was recut, with the largest section acquiring its "Hope" name when it appeared in the catalogue of a gem collection owned by a London banking family called Hope in 1839.
After going through numerous owners, it was sold to Washington socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean who was often seen wearing it. It was purchased in 1949 by New York gem merchant Harry Winston, who toured it for a number of years before giving it to Washington’s National Museum of Natural History in 1958, where it has since remained on permanent exhibition.
The Hope Diamond has long been rumoured to carry a curse, possibly due to agents trying to arouse interest in the stone.
It was one of the first diamonds ever cut with symmetrical facets, having a history of over five hundred years. The stone is apparently of Indian origin. It was first owned by Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who lost it in a battle in 1477.
The stone is named "The Sancy" after a late owner, Seigneur de Sancy, a French Ambassador to Turkey, in the late 16th century. Sancy was not only a prominent figure in the French court, but also an eager collector of gems then.
He loaned this stone to the French king, Henry III, who wore it in the cap with which he concealed his baldness. Henry IV of France also borrowed the stone from Sancy. Later, Sancy was assigned the French Ambassador to England and he sold the Diamond in 1664 to James I, of England. In 1688, James II, last of the Stewart Kings of England, fled with it to Paris. It was stolen during the French Revolution in 1792.
The Sancy disappeared until 1828, when it resurfaced in the hands of Russian Prince Demidoff. His family owned it until 1865, and then sold it to a wealthy Indian, Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, of Bombay.
The next public appearance was at the Paris Exhibition of 1867. Lady Astor loaned the Sancy to the Louvre, as a centrepiece for its Ten Centuries of French Jewellery exhibition in 1962.
However, after her death in 1964, the British government declares the stone a national treasure, but after that reportedly it has been sold to the French government.