The human fascination with gems and jewelry spans back thousands of years, but we have a particular affinity for diamonds. Some historians believe that diamond trading occurred as far back as the fourth century BC, in India. In the first century AD, the Roman philosopher and naturalist Pliny said, “Diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones, but of all things in this world.”
Here’s a look at some of the most stunning diamonds ever discovered in history.
The Hope Diamond
This 45.52-carat cushion-cut diamond hangs on a pendant surrounded by 16 white diamonds, and the necklace chain contains 45 white diamonds. It is estimated to be worth $200-250 million.
The history of the stone can be traced all the way back to 1668, when French merchant traveller Jean Baptiste Tavernier sold the 112-carat diamond to King Louis XIV of France in 1668. It changed hands many times over the centuries, but it was eventually bought by jeweler Harry Winston, who donated the diamond to the Smithsonian Museum in 1958.
The Eureka Diamond
The aptly-named Eureka Diamond was the very first diamond discovered in South Africa. The 21.25-carats diamond was found by a 15 year-old boy named Erasmus Stephanus Jacobs in 1867. His discovery led to the Kimberly Diamond Rush and signaled the beginning of the Mineral Revolution.
The Eureka was purchased for £500 by Sir Philip Wodehouse, Governor of the Cape Colony, South Africa. He took it with him to the United Kingdom, where it remained for 100 years, during which time it was cut to a 10.73-carat, cushion-shaped brilliant. On April 16,1946, the Eureka was sold in London at a Christie’s public auction as part of a bangle. In 1967, 100 years after the diamond’s discovery, De Beers purchased and donated the Eureka to the South African people. The diamond is currently on display at the Mine Museum in Kimberley.
The Excelsior Diamond
The Excelsior Diamond was the largest-known diamond in the world from the time of its discovery in 1893 until 1905, when the larger Cullinan Diamond was awarded that distinction. Today, it’s remembered as the third-largest diamond ever found.
Some controversy still surrounds the cutting of the Excelsior. After waiting for a buyer for many years, the owners decided to cut it into several smaller stones and sell them to various buyers. At the time, a representative from De Beers called the cutting “the greatest tragedy of modern times in the history of famous diamonds.” The decision to cut the stone meant that its historical significance was ruined and kept the Excelsior out of the Smithsonian or other historical museums. To this day, it remains a mystery why it was not simply cut into a single large, faceted diamond.
The Cullinan Diamond
The Cullinan Diamond, named after mine chairman Thomas Cullinan, weighed in at 3,106.75 carats when it was discovered in South Africa on January 26, 1905.
After being presented to King Edward VII on his 66th birthday, the diamond was cut into several polished gems, the largest of which is known as the Cullinan I, or the Great Star of Africa. At 530.4 carats, it is the largest clear-cut diamond in the world. The second-largest, at 317.4 carats, is Cullinan II, or the Second Star of Africa. Both diamonds are part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
The Shirley Temple Diamond
This rare 9.54-carat cushion-cut blue diamond ring was purchased by the father of child star Shirley Temple in 1940 as a gift for her 12th birthday and to commemorate the premiere of her film, “The Blue Bird.” The diamond originally cost $7,210, which is equivalent to $121,000 today. Temple wore the ring for the rest of her life, and it retains its original Art Deco-inspired setting.
The rarity of blue diamonds — which have exploded in popularity since 1940 — and the ring’s unique Hollywood history make it a multi-million dollar gem.
The Heart of Eternity Diamond
The Heart of Eternity is a 27.64-carat, vivid blue, heart-shaped diamond and the sixth-largest blue diamond in the world. It is cut from the same 777-carat rough stone as the 203.04 carat Millennium Star, and both are part of the De Beers Limited Edition Millennium Diamond Collection. These famous diamonds were the target of the Millennium Dome diamond heist, which was fortunately foiled by the Flying Squad of London’s Metropolitan Police Service.
In 2012, reports surfaced that boxer Floyd Mayweather purchased the Heart of Eternity necklace for his fiancée. They later parted ways and no one knows if the Christmas gift was a pricey reproduction or not, as De Beers won’t disclose the person to whom they sold the Heart of Eternity Diamond.
The Lesedi La Rona Diamond
The Lesedi La Rona Diamond is the third-largest diamond ever found and the second-largest of gem quality. It is also the largest diamond recovered using machines for automated diamond sorting. It is estimated to be over 2.5 billion years old and was discovered in Botswana in November 2015.
Its name means “Our Light” in the Tswana language, and comes from contest winner Thembani Moitlhobogi. His submission was selected from among 12,000 others from participants hoping to name the diamond. Moitlhobogi said, “The diamond is a pride, light and hope of Batswana.”
While you may not find any of these famous diamonds at Eiseman Jewels, you can find an extraordinary selection of diamond jewelry. Visit Eiseman Jewels in NorthPark Center today.