Every piece of antique diamond jewellery has a story to tell. Family heirlooms that are passed down through the generations are full of emotion and history as well as sparkle. There are certain jewels, however, that have captured the imagination of generations and become famous beyond belief.
Join us for a journey through history as we discover the most iconic diamonds of all time and learn a bit more about their story.
1. The Graff Pink
This fancy intense pink diamond has been ranked by the GIA as diamond-type ‘IIa’, putting in the top two per cent of diamonds in the world. The impressive emerald-cut pink diamond totals an impressive 24.78 carats and is breath-taking to behold.
The origin story of this gemstone remains a mystery, but it has earned its fame more recently by fetching unprecedented amounts of money at auction. In 2010, the Graff Pink sold for an incredible £29 million in an auction in Geneva, putting it at the top of the charts as the most expensive single jewel ever sold at auction at the time. The lucky buyer was Laurence Graff, a diamond jeweller who gave this mesmerising stone its iconic name.
2. The Hope Diamond
In any round-up of famous jewels, the iconic 45.52-carat Hope Diamond can’t be forgotten. This large blue-toned gemstone has gone down in history as one of the most famous gemstones ever and it was even thought to inspire the Heart of the Ocean pendant in Titanic.
The lineage of the Hope Diamond can be traced back almost four centuries and it was originally mined in the Kollur Mine, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh in India. The earliest records of this gemstone show that it was bought by a French gem merchant in 1666 – at this point, it was known as the ‘Tavernier Blue’. Later, the stone was cut and it yielded the ‘French Blue’ which was sold to King Louis XIV in 1668. The gemstone was later stolen and cut again; the largest section then became known as the Hope Diamond.
Currently, this fabulous gemstone is housed in the National Museum of Natural History in the United States.
3. The Black Orlov Diamond
This dark and mysterious gemstone is also known as the ‘Eye of Brahma’. Although it is described as black and appears black/grey to the naked eye, it’s actually graded as green in colour and weighs a total of 67.5 carats. The Black Orlov Diamond has a dark and murderous past, with many people believing that it carries a curse from owner to owner, causing death and destruction.
The diamond was discovered in 19th century India and is thought to have featured as one of the eyes in a statue of the. Hindu god Brahma – hence its alternative name. The curse is believed to have begun when the diamond was stolen from the statue by a Jesuit cleric and taken from India.
After a long lineage including its ownership by diamond dealers and Russian princesses, the gemstone was bought by Charles F. Winson and cut into three pieces in the hope of breaking the curse. In 2004, the Black Orlov was purchased by the diamond dealer Dennis Petimezas who believed that he was “pretty sure the curse was broken.” Since then, this mysterious and extremely famous diamond has been displayed in the American Museum of Natural History and in the Natural History Museum in London.
4. The Koh-I-Noor Diamond
The Koh-I-Noor diamond, which translates as the ‘mountain of light’ is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, weighing a magnificent 105.602 carats. It is a prized part of the British Crown Jewels and has been worn by many female members of the royal family. Queen Victoria wore this impressive gemstone set in a brooch and after she died it was set in the crown of Queen Alexandra (Edward vii’s wife). This crown was passed on to Queen Mary in 1911 and then onto Queen Elizabeth in 1937.
It is believed that the stunning Koh-I-Noor was originally mined from the Kollur Mine in India during the Kakatiya dynasty. Today, it can be found on display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London.
5. The Cora Sun-Drop Diamond
This stunning pear brilliant-cut yellow diamond looks exactly like you’d expect from its name – like a drop of sunshine! Unlike some of the previous specimens we’ve talked about, this gemstone has a short history. It was only discovered in 2010, within a kimberlite pipe in South Africa. After being tested, it was revealed that the Cora Sun Drop Diamond was formed between one and three billion years ago.
After it was found, the impressive 110.3-carat gemstone was kept safely in the vaults of the London Natural History Museum until it came to auction in Geneva in 2011. The diamond was sold for almost £8 million to the diamond company Cora International. Later, it was cut and re-auctioned at Sotheby’s after being purchased by an anonymous telephone bidder.
All of these diamonds have dazzled us throughout history and they’re sure to continue to amaze generations to come. Could you possibly pick a favourite? Now, why not head over to our own diamond jewellery range to find the next piece to add to your collection and be passed down as an heirloom?
Delilah Kealy-Roberts – Sales and Digital Assistant
Delilah joined the AC Silver team as a Sales & Digital Assistant in 2017 after completing her degree in English Literature at Leeds University. Delilah possesses a passion for jewellery and antiquities combined with an interest in blogging and social media.