Famous Diamonds

Blue Heart

Blue Heart

Some reports refer to the Blue Heart Diamond as the "Eugenie Blue" a French cutting firm Atanik Ekyanan of Neuilly, Paris cut this heart shape, which weighs 30.62 metric carats and is of a rare deep blue color, sometime between 1909 and 1910. It is a question whether the rough stone came from Africa of India. In 1910 Cartier purchased the diamond and sold it to an Argentinian woman named Mrs. Unzue.

At the time, it was set in a lily-of-the-valley corsage and remained so until Van Cleef & Arpels bought the gem in 1953. They exhibited it set in a pendant to a necklace valued at $300,000 and sold it to a European titled family. In 1959 Harry Winston acquired the gem, selling it five years later, mounted in a ring, to Marjorie Merriweather Post. Finally Mrs. Post donated to the Blue Heart to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. where it remains to this day.

Blue Hope

Blue Hope

Blue Hope - 45.52 Carats, the ironically named Hope diamond (named for its purchaser, Henry Thomas Hope) may have had a long and illustrious history before it became associated with a run of bad luck for its owners.

It is thought to be a part of the famous Blue Tavernier Diamond, brought to Europe from India in l642. The Blue was purchased by King Louis XIV who had it cut to 67.50 carats from 112 carats to bring out its brilliance. The diamond was stolen during the French Revolution, and a smaller diamond of similar color was sold in 1830 to Hope, an English banker. After inheriting the diamond, Hope's son lost his fortune.

It was eventually acquired by an American widow, Mrs. Edward McLean, whose family then suffered a series of catastrophes: her only child was accidentally killed, the family broke up, Mrs. McLean lost her money, and then committed suicide. When Harry Winston, the New York diamond merchant, bought the stone in 1949, many clients refused to uch the stone. It is now on display at the Smithosonian Institute in Washington.

Centenary

Centenary

Discovered at the Premier Mine in South Africa on 17 July. The 'Centenary' diamond weighed 599.10 carats in the rough. Together with a small select team, master-cutter Gabi Tolkowsky took almost three years to complete its transformation into the world's largest, most modern-cut, top-color, flawless diamond.

Possessing 247 facets - 164 on the stone and 83 on its girdle - the aptly-named 'Centenary' diamond weighs 273.85 carats, and is only surpassed in size by the 530.20 carat 'Great Star of Africa' and the 317.40 carat 'Lesser Star of Africa', both of which are set into the British Crown Jewels. The 'Centenary' diamond was unveiled, appropriately at the Tower of London in May, 1991.

Great Chrysanthemum

Great Chrysanthemum

In the summer of 1963, a 198.28-carat fancy brown diamond was found in the South African diamond fields. This unusual stone was purchased by Julius Cohen, New York City manufacturing jeweler, under whose direction it was fashioned by the firm of S & M Kaufman into a 104.15-carat pear shape. The stone has a total of 189 facets (67 on the crown, 65 on the girdle, and 57 on the pavilion) and measures 25mm wide, 39mm long, and 16.2mm deep. It is mounted as the central stone in a yellow gold necklace of 410 oval and marquise-shaped diamonds.

In the rough state, the diamond appeared to be a light honey color; after cutting, however, it proved to be a rich golden brown, with overtones of sienna and burnt orange, the warm colors of the brown chrysanthemum after which the stone was named.

The Cullinan's

The Cullinan's

The largest gem-quality diamond ever found was discovered on January 26, 1905 in the Premier Mine in South Africa., it was 3,106 carats in the rough and originally weighed just under one and a half pounds. The stone possessed a surprisingly smooth cleavage face on one side, leading many experts to believe that the huge stone was only a piece of a larger diamond that was broken up in the weathering process.

It was notable for its exquisite color and exceptional purity.

The diamond was named for Sir Thomas Cullinan, who opened the Premier Mine.

The Transvaal Government bought the diamond rough for $750,000 and presented it to England's King Edward VII on his 66th birthday in 1907. The next year, King Edward sent the stone to the renowned Asscher's Diamond Co. in Amsterdam for cutting.

The diamond rough was insured for $1,250,000, when it was sent to Asscher's Diamond Company to be cut. A heavy steel blade shattered on the first attempt to cut the diamond. On the second attempt the diamond fell apart... exactly as planned. It was reported that the diamond cutter fainted.

Following months of exacting study, the rough stone was cleaved into nine major gems and 96 smaller gems and 9 1/2 carats of unpolished pieces. The largest two retained by the Royal Family for the Crown Jewels.

Cullinan I

Cullinan I (also known as the Great Star of Africa): 530.20 carats. It is a magnificent pear-shaped diamond with 74 facets. until recently, the largest cut diamond in the world. (That record is now held by the Unnamed Brown, a golden brown cushion shape diamond weighing 545.67 carats.)

King Edward called it "The Great Star of Africa" and ordered it to be set in the British Imperial Scepter, which had to be redesigned to accommodate it. The Scepter is on permanent display in the Tower of London.

Cullinan II

Cullinan II (also known as the Lesser Star of Africa): 317.40 carats.

A cushion-cut brilliant, the fourth-largest cut diamond in the world. It is also part of the British Crown Jewels. This square stone is set in the British Imperial State Crown, on display in the Tower of London.

Cullinan III

Cullinan III - This pear shape diamond weighs 94.40 carat, placed on Queen Mary's Crown.

Cullinan IV

Cullinan IV - The 63.60 carat Square Diamond is set in the band of Queen Mary's Crown.

The De Beers

The De Beers

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.

After its cutting, the De Beers diamond was unveiled at the Paris Exhibition of 1889. Enthralled crowds lined up to see what, at 228.5 polished carats, it was believed to be the largest cut diamond in the world.

And while many great stones have been discovered over the past century, the De Beers diamond holds the title of being the fourth largest cut diamond in the world.

De Beers Millennium Star

De Beers Millennium Star

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 diamond.

Harry Oppenheimer, the doyen of the diamond industry, describes the De Beers Millennium Star as "the most beautiful diamond I have ever seen." Appropriately called the De Beers Millennium Star, it was unveiled as the centerpiece of the De Beers Millennium diamond collection. The entire collection includes eleven equally rare blue diamonds totaling 118 carats, as well as the 27-carat Heart of Eternity.

Dresden Green

Dresden Green

The Dresden Green gets its name from the capitol of Saxony where it has been on display for more than 200 years. The earliest known reference to its existence occurs in The Post Boy, a London new-sheet of the 1700's. The issue dated October 25th - 27th, 1722 included this article:

An early reference to the Dresden Green "On Tuesday last, in the afternoon, one Mr. Marcus Moses (an important diamond merchant in London during the first part of the 18th century), lately arrived from India, had the honor to wait on his Majesty [King George I (ruled 1714-27)] with his large diamond, which is of a fine emerald green color, and was with his Majesty near an hour. His Majesty was very much pleased with the sight thereof. It is said there never was seen the like in Europe before, being free from any defect in the world; and he has shown his Majesty several other fine large diamonds, the like of which 'tis said were never brought from India before. He was also, the 25th, to wait on their Royal Highnesses with his large diamond; and they were surprised to see one of such largeness, and of such a fine emerald color without the help of a foil under it. We hear the gentlemen value's it at 10,000 pounds."

Another early reference to the Dresden Green is found in a letter dated from 1726, from Baron Gautier, the "assessor" at the Geheimes Rath's Collegium in Dresden, to the Polish ambassador in London, which speaks of the green diamond being offered to Frederick Augustus I (1694-1753) by a London merchant for 30,000 pounds.

The Gemmological Institute of America examined the stone in 1988. The Dresden Green Diamond was proved to be not only of extraordinary quality, but also a rare type IIa diamond. The clarity grade determined by GIA was VS1 and the gem has the potential of being internally flawless. The gem measures 29.75 x 19.88 x 10.29mm. The GIA graded the symmetry good and the polish very good. This is astonishing for a diamond cut prior to 1741. The Dresden Greed Diamond is displayed Albertinium Museum in Dresden.

Great Star of Africa

Great Star of Africa

530.20 Carats - the Cullinan I or Star Africa diamond is the largest cut diamond in the world. Pear shaped, with 74 facets, it is set in the Royal Scepter (kept with the other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London).

It was cut from the 3,106-carat Cullian, the largest diamond crystal ever found. The Cullian was discovered in Transvaal, South Africa in l095 on an inspection tour of the Premier Mine.

The Cullian was cut by Joseph Asscher and Company of Amsterdam, who examined the enormous crystal for around six months before determining how to divide it. It eventually yeilded nine major, and 96 smaller brilliant cut stones. When the Cullian was first discovered, certain signs suggested that it may have been part of a much larger crystal. But no discovery of the "missing half" has ever been authenticated.

Hortensia

Hortensia

A lovely and unique 21.32-carat peach-colored stone that was named after w Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland (1783-1837), who was daughter of Empress Josephine, wife of Louis Bonaparte and mother of Napoleon III. The stone was cut around 1678.

The catalog of the Apollo Gallery, Louvre Museum, Paris, states that the stone was purchased by Louis XIV and that later, after the robbery of the Royal Treasury in 1792, it was retrieved from it's hiding place under a roof in Les Halles district of Paris. It is now on exhibition in the Louvre. The Regent Diamond was also rediscovered in an attic in Paris, most likely the same attic, along with the Hortensia.

Idol's Eye

Idol's Eye

A flattened pear shaped stone the size of a bantam's egg, its polished size is 70.20 carats.

Another famous diamond that was once set in the eye of an idol before it was stolen.

Legend also holds that it was given as a ransom for Princess Rasheetah by the Sheik of Kashmir to the Sultan of Turkey, who had abducted her.

Despite abundant unproven accounts of its early origins, the first authenticated facts of this diamond's history were associated with its appearance at a Christie's sale in London in 1865. At the sale, it was sold to a mysterious buyer later identified as the 34th Ottomon Sultan, Abd al-Hamid II.

Hamid II was ultimately defeated by opposition that became known as the Young Turks. One version of events holds that in exile, he entrusted his jewels to a servant who betrayed him and sold them in Paris, including the large diamond known as the "Idol's Eye."

The Idol's Eye re-emerged at the end of World War II, when it was acquired by a Dutch dealer, and subsequently by Harry Winston in 1946.

Winston sold it to Mrs. May Bonfils Stanton, the daughter of the publisher and co-founder of the Denver Post. It was reported that Mrs. Stanton lived in isolation in a palatial mansion and wore the Idol's Eye to her solitary breakfast every morning.

After her death, the diamond went through a succession of owners, until it was sold with two other important stones to a private buyer.

Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of Light)

Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of Light)

In April 2002, a few days after the death of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, her crown was taken from behind its ultra-high-security armoured glass in the Tower of London and carried in open view through the streets of London, surmounting her coffin as it processed from St James's Palace to Westminster Hall. It remained there during her Lying-in-State as members of the public filed past to pay their last respects to the Queen Mother, the last Empress of India.

Interestingly enough, she had only ever worn this crown once, 65 years earlier, at the Coronation of herself and her husband, King George VI, in 1937. The largest and most important jewel in this crown is the priceless Koh-i-noor Diamond, which had been presented to Queen Victoria by Lord Dalhousie in June 1850. This followed the British annexation of the Punjab, India, after the British had defeated the Sikhs. From that date the diamond became part of the British Crown Jewels.

The Origins of the Koh-i-noor

Some say that the Koh-i-noor was originally found more than 5000 years ago, and is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit writings. Devout Hindus claim that it was once worn by the great god Krishna, but was stolen from him as he lay sleeping. By contrast, another source has it that the diamond was discovered in a river bed in 3200 BC. The first reliable evidence of it, however, is in the writings of Babur, the founder of the Mogul Empire, who names this diamond as part of the treasure won by Ala-ud-deen (Aladdin) at the conquest of Malwah in 1304 AD. The Moguls acquired the diamond in 1526.

At that time it was said to weigh 793 carats, but through some incredibly ham-fisted cutting and polishing by a jeweller named Borgio it was reduced to 186 carats. Borgio had been working on it for years, but so enraged was Aurungzebe (the Emperor at the time) at the result that he confiscated all Borgio's worldly goods and contemplated executing him as well.

How the Koh-i-noor Got Its Name

The Koh-i-noor remained with the Mogul emperors until 1739, when Nadir Shah of Persia, the conqueror of India, got hold of it after laying siege to Delhi. According to legend it was a member of the harem of the Mogul Emperor Mohammed Shah who told Nadir Shah that the jewel was kept hidden in the Emperor's turban. So, at a victory celebration, Nadir used a cunning ploy. He suggested that he and the Emperor partake in a well-known Oriental custom whereby the two leaders would exchange turbans. This would symbolise their close ties and eternal friendship. For the Mogul to refuse would have been a great insult to the conqueror. Later that night, when Nadir Shah unfolded his host's turban he duly found the gem, and cried out 'Koh-i-noor', which means 'mountain of light'. Nadir Shah then brought the jewel back with him to Persia.

From Persia to Afghanistan to India

After the death of Nadir Shah the Koh-i-noor came through devious means into the possession of Ahmed Shah, the Lord of the Royal Treasury and an Afghan chief. Then Ahmed Shah, after a series of long and fierce battles, established himself in Kabul as King of Afghanistan, and held on to 'the great diamond' as a symbol of his authority. Through various subsequent upheavals and rebellions the diamond came back into the possession of the Indian princes, until the annexation of the Punjab secured it for the British.

The British

The British colonial officials found the Koh-i-noor in 1849, in the treasury of the Punjabi capital, Lahore. They confiscated everything they found in the treasury as compensation for having to fight against the Sikh army, who didn't think much of the British claims to power in India.

Sir John Lawrence, Governor General of India, used to tell the story of how the Sikhs handed the diamond to him in a plain old battered tin box, which he then forgot about. Weeks later London was asking him if he had any idea where the diamond was. He replied in the negative. Then came a second, more urgent letter, in which London expressed a desire to present the jewel to the Queen. Following another negative reply, the Prime Minister himself, Lord Palmerston, sent a plea. Sir John searched high and low but couldn't find it, until one of his servants remembered there was 'a bit of glass in an old tin box'. Luckily the servant was the sort of person who never throws anything away, and eventually discovered it in the tool-shed. There it was, not even wrapped - the most famous gem of India, the fabled Koh-i-noor, the 'Mountain of Light', the jewel to die for (and very many unfortunate people had done just that). And Lawrence didn't have the faintest idea what it was.

The Curse of the Koh-i-noor

The British were rather disappointed at the lack of 'fire' in the diamond, and so they decided it should be re-cut to make it more brilliant. This further reduced it from 186 carats to its present size of just under 109 carats. Over centuries of murder and mayhem, brutality and torture - not to mention deceit and duplicity - the stone had long carried with it a curse that misfortune would always befall its owner, though any woman wearing it would remain unharmed. There was some talk of whether Queen Victoria would return the stone because of the curse. Defiant as always, however, she was adamant it should instead be re-cut and set in a tiara along with over 2000 other royal diamonds.

In 1911 a new crown was made for the coronation of Queen Mary, with the Koh-i-noor at its centre. Then in 1937 the stone was transferred to another new crown, this time for the coronation of Elizabeth (later to become the Queen Mother) as Queen Consort and Empress of India.

Conflicting Claims

In October 1997, Queen Elizabeth II made a State Visit to India and Pakistan to mark the 50th anniversary of Independence. Many Sikhs in India and Britain used the occasion to demand the return of the Koh-i-noor diamond , which had been won from the Sikhs (whose ruler was Duleep Singh, a young boy at the time) after a fierce battle. But the Sikhs had surrendered, and one of the terms of the surrender was that they hand over the diamond. A simple Punjabi farmer in his 70s, Beant Singh Sandhawalia, has claimed to be the last surviving descendant of Duleep Singh, through adoption. He wrote to Buckingham Palace and to Prime Minister Tony Blair asking for the return of the Koh-i-noor. Sandhawalia says he doesn't want the Koh-i-noor for himself, but will give it to the museum at the Golden Temple of Amritsar, the holiest Sikh shrine.

The Sikhs, however, are not the only people who want the diamond. In November 2000 the Taleban regime demanded the return of the Koh-i-noor diamond to Afghanistan, saying that the British should hand the gem back to them as soon as possible. They have claimed that it is the property of Afghanistan, and that history shows that it went to India from Afghanistan and therefore the Afghans have a stronger claim than the Indians. While an Indian parliamentary committee has insisted that the gem be sent back to New Delhi, the Taleban have claimed that Maharajah Ranjit Singh (the father of Duleep Singh) stole it from Afghanistan while he was ruler of the Punjab.

British officials take the view that the multiplicity of competing claims makes it impossible to establish the gem's former ownership. Thus, for now, at least, it looks likely to remain one of the jewels in the British Crown.

Sourced BBC. Created: 6th June 2002

Orloff

Orloff

300 Carats when found, color: slightly bluish green, clarity: exceptionally pure, cut: Mogul-cut rose, source: India.

This gem may be found in the Diamond Treasury of Russia in Moscow.

There are so many historical episodes involving the Orloff. First, it may have been set at one time as the diamond eye of Vishnu's idol (one of the Hindu Gods) in the innermost sanctuary temple in Sriangam, before being stolen in the 1700s by a French deserter. However, the deserter just dug one eye from its socket, because he was terror-stricken at the thought of retribution, so he couldn't take the other. He went to Madras, and sold the stone quickly to an English sea-captain for 2,000 pounds.

The time passed, the stone arrived at Amsterdam where the Russian count Grigori Orloff, an ex-lover of Empress Catherine the Great was residing. He heard about rumors of the stone, and he bought the diamond for 90,000 pounds and took it back to Russia for Catherine's favor. The stone has been called the Orloff since then. Catherine received his gift and had it mounted in the Imperial Sceptre. She gave a marble palace to Grigori in exchange for the Orloff. However, Grigori couldn't get Catherine's love. Grigori Orloff passed away at the nadir of disappointment in 1783.

In 1812 the Russians, fearing that Napoleon with his Grand Army was about to enter Moscow, hid the Orloff in a priest's tomb. Napoleon supposedly discovered the Orloff's location and went to claim it. However, as a solider of the Army was about to touch the Orloff, a priest's ghost appeared and pronounced a terrible curse upon the Army. The Emperor, Napoleon scampered away without the Orloff.

Portuguese

Portuguese

The Portuguese Diamond weighs 127.01 carats it's near flawless clarity and unusual octagonal emerald cut make it one of the world's most magnificent diamond gems. There is little documented information about it's origin and early history. The lack of an authoritative provenance, however, has given rise to considerable conjecture and legend. The diamond owes its current name to one such legend, according to which the diamond was found in Brazil in the eighteenth century and became part of the Portuguese Crown Jewels. There is no documentation, however, that substantiates a Brazilian origin or connection to Portuguese royalty, nor is it clear where or from whom this story originated. As it is discussed below, the diamond most likely was found at the Premier Mine in Kimberly, South Africa, early in the 20th century.

One part of the diamond's history that is well-documented is that in February 1928 Peggy Hopkins Joyce acquired the diamond from Black, Starr & Frost. She traded a $350,000 pearl necklace for the diamond and $23,000 in cash. According to New York newspaper accounts, it was mounted on a diamond-studded platinum choker to be worn close around the throat (probably the same necklace described above). The jewelry firm's spokesperson at the time indicated that the diamond was found at the Premier Mine, Kimberly, South Africa, in 1910, and that the firm had obtained it shortly after its discovery. Miss Joyce was dazzling blonde who performed in the Ziegfeld Follies, a true glamour girl of the 1920s. She had six husbands, at least five of whom were men of wealth, and claimed to have been engaged fifty times. She was said to be almost as fond of jewels as of men. Sometime prior to 1946 Miss Joyce placed the diamond on consignment to the group of jewelers mentioned above, in an unsuccessful attempt to sell it.

Harry Winston acquired the Portuguese Diamond from Miss Joyce in 1951, and for the next several years it traveled the country as part of his "Court of Jewels" exhibition. In 1957, Winston sold the diamond to an international industrialist, who then traded it back in 1962. In 1963, the Smithsonian acquired the Portuguese Diamond from Mr. Winston in exchange for 2,400 carats of small diamonds.

The Portuguese Diamond strongly fluoresces blue under ultraviolet light. A soft fluorescence is visible even in daylight or artificial light and gives the stone a slight bluish haze.

Premier Rose

Premier Rose

In March 1978 the Premier mine in South Africa yielded yet another remarkable diamond, a triangular-shaped cleavage of the finest color, weighing 353.9 carats.

Like an earlier gem found at the Premier, the Niarchos, this one too traveled right through the various stages of mining recovery only to emerge at the final one, the grease table in the recovery plant.

For reasons of security, the news of the finding of the diamond was not released for two months. After it had been disclosed, the press lost no time in speculating about possible destinations for the eventual polished gem. Prince Rainier of Monaco was obliged to deny reports that he was planning to buy it as a wedding present for his daughter, Princess Caroline, who was shortly to be married; another European royal family was rumored to be interested; Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Empire, who had already spent ?20,000,000 on his coronation, was said to have made an offer.

In the end the Johannesburg firm Mouw Diamond Cutting Works purchased it, naming it after Mrs. Rose Mouw.

The Mouws then contacted their American partner, William Goldberg, who promptly purchased a share in the diamond. When he set eyes upon it, Mr. Goldberg exclaimed, "A lot of people are going to be interested--this is an unusually exciting diamond."

The cutting was carried out in South Africa and produced three gems which became known as members of the Premier Rose family.

The largest, which has retained the name Premier Rose, is a pear shape weighing 137.02 carats, cut with 189 facets and measuring approximately 43.40 by 23.20 by 18.93 mm. It was submitted to the Gemological Institute of America for certification where it received a "D" flawless rating, symbols for the finest qualities of color and clarity. It was then the largest stone of this caliber to have been certified by the GIA. The weight of the Premier Rose makes it the second biggest pear-shaped diamond in existence.

The William Goldberg Diamond Corporation of New York handled the sale of the gems. The Premier Rose was sold in 1979 to an anonymous buyer for about $10,000,000; the sale of the two smaller diamonds followed shortly after.

Recently, Robert Mouawad has added the Premier Rose to his great collection of important diamonds.

Regent

Regent

This great stone, originally a diamond rough of 410 carats, was said to be discovered in 1701 by an Indian slave near Golconda.

Golconda was a mountain fortress and a center for trading in India that included a diamond storehouse.

The diamond was first owned by William Pitt, the Prime Minister of England, but the circumstances surrounding his acquisition of the gem have been called into question several times.

Pitt arranged for the stone to be cut into its current cushion-shaped brilliant of 140.50 carats by the only person in England considered capable of the task, which took two years. The result was a stunning gem that is considered the most perfectly cut of all the celebrated diamonds of old.

The Regent is characteristic of the finest Indian diamonds, and has a beautiful light blue tinge.

The diamond was sold to the Duke of Orleans, Regent of France, who was at first hesitant to purchase the gem because of the perilous state of the Treasury. Ultimately, the Duke of Orleans relented, and shortly thereafter, the stone was renamed "The Regent."

Later, it was set in the coronation crown of King Louis XV, and later in a headband worn by his Queen. Many of the French Crown Jewels were reset numerous times at the behest of the queen. Sadly, in September 1792, the Regent and other great diamonds in the Crown Jewel collection were stolen, some disappearing forever.

Fortunately, the Regent reappeared in a Paris attic a year later. After coming to power in 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the diamond set in his sword hilt, which he carried at his coronation two years later.

Today, the Regent can be admired at the Louvre in Paris.

Sancy

Sancy

This 55 carats pear-shaped stone was first owned by Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, who lost it in battle in 1477.

The stone is in fact named after a late owner, Seigneur de Sancy, a French Ambassador to Turkey in the late 16th century.

There are numerous questions regarding how Mr. Sancy obtained his diamond, but most likely, he acquired it on his travels in the Far East.

Nicholas de Sancy served two French monarchs loyally: He loaned the diamond to the French king, Henry III, who strategically placed it on his cap to conceal his baldness.

It was also pledged by Sancy for the purpose of raising troops in Switzerland. He employed his diamond again on behalf of his sovereign, now Henry IV, the first of the Bourbon dynasty.

By 1596, Sancy himself was in need of money and eventually sold the large diamond to King James I of England.

In 1625, Charles I disposed of other diamonds but retained the Sancy, which was taken by Queen Henrietta Maria along with other jewels in the Royal Treasury.

It later came into the possession of Cardinal Jules Mazirin, acting First Minister of the Crown, who bequeathed the Sancy and another stone to the French Crown.

The Sancy was disappeared during the French Revolution. in 1782.

After the French Revolution, a stone believed to be the Sancy found its way to a Spanish nobleman, and eventually in 1828 to Prince Nicholas Demidoff, whose family owned industries and silver mines in Russia. The Sancy passed to his son, who gave it to his Finnish bride.

Following additional travels around the world, the Sancy was purchased by William Waldorf Astor in the 1890s for his wife, Lady Astor. Lady Astor, the first woman to sit as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons, wore the Sancy set in a tiara at numerous state occasions.

In 1978, the four Viscount Astor sold the Sancy, reputedly for $1,000,000. It is now on view at the Louvre in Paris.

Taylor-Burton

Taylor-Burton

This pear-shaped 69.42 carat diamond was sold at auction in 1969 with the understanding that it could be named by the buyer. Cartier of New York successfully bid for it and immediately christened it "Cartier." However, the next day Richard Burton bought the stone for Elizabeth Taylor for an undisclosed sum, renaming it the "Taylor-Burton." It made its debut at a charity ball in Monaco in mid-November where Miss Taylor wore it as a pendant. In 1978, Elizabeth Taylor announced that she was putting it up for sale and planned to use part of the proceeds to build a hospital in Botswana. Just to inspect the diamond, prospective buyers had to pay $2,500 to cover the cost of showing it. In June 1979, it was sold for nearly $3 million and was last reported to be in Saudi Arabia.

Tiffany

Tiffany

The best known yellow diamond the Tiffany was found in the De Beers mine at Kimberly in 1878 and weighed 287.42 carats. The following year it was bought by Charles Lewis Tiffany, the famous Fifth Avenue Jeweler, and was cut in Paris as a cushion-shaped brilliant with 90 facets, cut weight 128.51 carats. The Tiffany Yellow is one of the largest yellow diamonds in existence. Eighty years were to pass after its discovery before the beautiful orange-yellow diamond was set in a piece of jewelry. More than 25 million people are estimated to have seen the great gem in four large expositions: the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893, the Pan American Exposition in 1901, the Chicago Century of Progress exposition in 1933-34 and the New York World's Fair in 1939-40. In the latter, it was the highlight of the $14 million collection in the "House of Jewels."

The diamond has been on almost continuous display through the years at Tiffany's. The Tiffany Yellow diamond was mounted in a necklace and worn for the first time as a personal ornament at the Tiffany Ball in Newport, Rhode Island in 1957. The honor of this first wearing went to the Ball's chairwoman, Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse. It was mounted for the occasion in a necklace of white diamonds. In 1971 the Tiffany returned to South Africa for the exhibition which marked the centennial celebration of the Kimberley Mine. After an absence of forty years from London, Tiffany's re-opened their branch in Old Bond Street in 1986 and displayed the diamond to herald their return. The sole hiatus in the otherwise uneventful history of the Tiffany has centred on reported attempts to sell the diamond which was valued at $12,000,000 at the end of 1983.

In 1951 the new chairman of Tiffany's recommended that the gem should be sold. This decision horrified some members of the old Board. A buyer agreed to pay $500,000 for the stone but the deal fell through because the chairman wanted a cheque in full whereas the prospective buyer wished for other financial arrangements to be made. Then in 1972 the New York Times carried an advertisement by Tiffany's, offering to sell the diamond for $5 million. However, in the circumstances it would be as well to recall the story of the eager new salesman who, when he asked what would he get if he sold the famous gem, was promptly told by the head of the firm "Fired". The Tiffany Yellow has never been sold, although for that one brief 24-hour period on November 17th, 1972, a Tiffany ad in the New York Times offered the diamond for sale at $5 million.

The 128.54-carat Tiffany Yellow remains on permanent display on the ground floor of the Tiffany & Co. store in New York City.

Vargas

Vargas

On August 13, 1938 Brazil revealed its greatest gem when a diamond weighing 726.6 carats was picked up in the gravels of the San Antonio River in the Coromandel district of Minas Gerais. Two garimpeiros (diamond diggers or prospectors), Joaquim Venancio Tiago and Manoel Miguel Domingues, were the lucky finders.

Their good fortune did not extend very far. Not long after they had sold the diamond to a broker for $56,000, the same man sold it for $235,000. The buyer in turn sold the gem to a Dutch syndicate represented by the Dutch Union Bank of Amsterdam. By then the diamond had been named "President Vargas" in honor of Getulio Dornelles Vargas, president of Brazil (1930-45 and 1951-54).

While the stone remained in the bank's safety deposit vault Harry Winston learned of its existence through his brokers in Brazil; they advised him of its rare quality and exceptional size. He traveled to London, then on to Amsterdam, where he finally purchased the President Vargas. The diamond was duly shipped to New York by ordinary registered mail at a cost of seventy cents although it had been insured by Lloyds for $750,000.

On account of its unusual formation it was decided to cleave the President Vargas. A 20-carat piece was sawn from the top before the first cleaving; from this a pear shape, weighing 10.05 carats, was fashioned. The cleaving of the diamond was to result in two pieces, one of 150 carats and the other of 550 carats. But in all, twenty-nine gems were fashioned from the President Vargas, nineteen sizeable and ten smaller ones weighing a total of 411.06 carats. They comprised sixteen emerald cuts, one pear shape, one marquise and, among the lesser gems, ten triangles and one baguette.

The name "President Vargas" has been retained by the largest gem, an emerald-cut weighing 48.26 carats.

For a number of years this diamond was owned by the wife of Robert W. Windfohr of Fort Worth, Texas, who purchased it in 1944.

In 1958 Harry Winston repurchased and re cut it to a flawless 44.17 carats stone, selling it again in 1961.

The identities of the other buyers are not known, but in 1948 was reported that the Gaekwar of Baroda had bought one of the Vargas gems.

In recent years two of the emerald cuts, numbers IV and VI, have come up for sale at Sotheby's in New York. In April 1989 President Vargas IV, weighing 28.03 carats, formerly among the jewels of Lydia Morrison, fetched $781,000, while in October 1992, President Vargas VI, weighing 25.4 carats, sold for $396,000.