The Most Famous Diamonds in the World Part 1

The Great Star of India
The Great Star of India

Diamonds were first discovered many thousands of years ago in India, and for many years it was assumed that they occurred only there. Subsequently they were found in many locations including Brazil, Russia, Venezuela and South Africa. Currently De Beers owns the largest diamond mine in the world, and consequently the company has a significant influence on the world diamond market.

Diamonds are valued highly for many reasons. One of these is their rarity. Mostly they were formed many millions of years ago deep within the earth where high temperatures and huge pressures created them from other forms of carbon. Diamonds have also arrived on earth carried billions of miles through space on meteors, while some have been formed at the moment of impact as meteors plummeted to earth.

Over the years a number of diamonds have achieved both fame and notoriety, and this is the story of some of the most famous ones.


The Great Star of Africa

The Star of Africa is the largest cut diamond in the world. This pear shaped diamond, which is known also as the Cullian I, weighs 530.20 carats. It has 74 facets and was cut from the Cullian diamond which weighed in at 3,106 carats and is the largest raw diamond that has so far been found. It was discovered in 1095 in the Premier Mine in Transvaal, South Africa.

After studying the diamond for for six months it was cut by Joseph Asscher in Amsterdam who is said to have passed out because of the strain it put him under. Eventually it was cut into 9 large and 96 small stones, the largest of which is the Star which is set in the Royal Scepter and is on display at the Tower of London with the rest of the Crown Jewels.

Orloff Diamond

Orloff Diamond
Orloff Diamond

Orloff Diamond

The Orloff diamond is currently kept in the Kremlin in Moscow. This huge half egg shaped diamond originally weighed 300 carats.Discovered in India, this very pure bluish green diamond has an interesting story.

It spent some time as one of the eyes of the idol of Vishnu, a Hindu god, but it was stolen from the inner sanctuary of the Sriangam temple by a deserter from the French army. he smuggled the diamond to Madras and sold it to an English sea-captain, it is said that he received 2,000 guineas for it.

The stone was subsequently sold to count Grigori Orloff of Russia for 90,000 pounds who presented it to Empress Catherine the Great who had it mounted in the Imperial Sceptre. in return Grigori received a marble palace, but he had hoped that the diamond would buy him Catherine's love. Sadly this didn't happen and he died with his love unrequited in 1783.

it is said that in 1812 the diamond was hidden by the Russians in a priest's tomb in order to keep it from Napoleon's invading army, but Napoleon discovered its hiding place. Accompanied by soldiers he entered the tomb to size the Orloff, but as a soldier reached out to touch it the ghost of the dead priest appeared and cursed Napoleon's army. Terrified, Napoleon ran away as fast as his legs would carry him.

The Spirit of de Grisogono

The Spirit of de Grisogono is probably the world's finest black diamond. It weighs 312.24 carats and is set in a ring along with 72 white diamonds. The uncut crystal weighted 587 carats and was discovered in Central Africa. The diamond was cut in Switzerland using the same ancient Indian Mogul cutting technique that was used to cut the Orloff diamond described above.

Black diamonds are spectacularly beautiful in a very different way from white diamonds. The Spirit of de Grisogono set in the ring shown in the image below was sold privately a number of years ago, though the buyer and the price that was paid are carefully guarded secrets.

The Spirit of de Grisogono

The Spirit of de Grisogono
The Spirit of de Grisogono

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