The Tiffany, which was initially a 287.42-carat rough stone and one of the largest fancy yellow diamonds ever discovered, is said to have been discovered in one of the mines of the Compagnie française de Diamant du Cap, in South Africa, around 1878. It was sent to Paris to be cut. Experts first studied it for a year before the actual cutting work started, under the supervision of the gemologist George F. Kunz. The result was a 128.51-carat cushion shape diamond with a total of 90 facets.
In 1879, Gideon Reed bought the diamond for his employer, Tiffany, and sent it to the United States. Although yellow diamonds do exist in relatively large numbers, most of these are only slightly tinted. Canary yellow diamonds, such as the Tiffany, are extremely rare, especially for such a large stone.
The Tereschenko (blue)
The Tereschenko is a blue, 42.92 carat, pear-shaped diamond. Like other fancy blues, the Tereschenko belongs to the rare group of Type IIb diamonds. It is not known where it was found: theoretically, it may have come from either the Kollur alluvial deposits in India or from the Premier Mine in South Africa. However, by 1913 the Premier Mine had been in existence for barely ten years and since there is no report of it having yielded such a rare and unusual gem, it must be assumed that the diamond is of Indian origin.
Its original owners were the Tereschenko's, a family of sugar magnates in pre-communist Russia. In 1915, Mikhail Tereschenko instructed Cartier to mount the gem as the centerpiece of a necklace containing a variety of fancy colored diamonds. The jewel was unique in combining forty-six marquise, round, pear and heart-shaped diamonds ranging from 0.13 to 2.88 carats. Their colors were described as "jonquil, lemon, aquamarine, sultana-green, golden button, grey, blue, crevet, lilac, rose, old port, madeira and topaz." As such, the necklace ranked among the most important creations of the century in fancy colored diamonds. In 1916, on the eve of the Russian Revolution, the Tereschenko Diamond was secretly taken out of Russia and passed into private ownership. The Tereschenko came up for sale in November 1984 at Christie's in Geneva, where it was purchased by Robert Mouawad, a Saudi diamond dealer, who set a new world record for the purchase price of a diamond
Red Cross (canary yellow)
The Red Cross is a cushion shaped, canary yellow diamond weighing 205.07 carats. When it was discovered in one of the De Beers mines in South Africa in 1901, it weighed 375 carats. When put under a brilliant light, this diamond absorbs part of it and subsequently becomes phosphorescent (self-luminous) in the dark. Another thing that distinguishes this stone is that on the upper facet, the shape of the Maltese cross is clearly visible.
Cut in Amsterdam, the stone was offered by diamantairs at an art sale held in London in 1918 under the auspices of Christie's, for the benefit of the Red Cross. Since then it has re-appeared from time to time during auctions, for example in Tokyo in 1973 where it was withdrawn, its reserve price not having been reached. Its current owner is not known.
The Pumpkin (vivid orange)
It was William Goldberg who cut and polished the famous Pumpkin diamond, a fancy vivid orange diamond with a finished weight of 5.54 carats, bought by Ronald Winston for $1.3 million. Ronald Winston, along with Phillip Bloch, designed the now-famous ring in which it is set for Best Actress winner Halle Berry, who wore the ring to the 2002 Academy Awards. It is the world's largest fancy vivid orange diamond, valued at just over $3 million
The Porges diamond is a 78.53-carat, Asscher-cut, SI1 clarity yellow diamond. It was purchased in 1962 by Harry Winston who gave it its name, as a tribute to the French diamond mining pioneer Jules Porges.
Jules Porges (1839-1921) came from a prominent Austro-Hungarian family. He settled in Paris where he quickly established himself as a principal force in the diamond trade, and invested in the mining rights of the four major South African mines (De Beers, Bultfontein, Dutoitspan, and Kimberley) when these were discovered. He became a close associate of Cecil Rhodes, and sold his shares to the De Beers firm before retiring in 1890.
Harry Winston mounted the stone so that it may be worn either as a brooch, within a frame set with cabochon-cut emeralds and rubies, or as a single stone, set within a simple ring mount. A first owner purchased it directly from Harry Winston in 1968. It was then sold at Christie's Magnificent Jewels sale of April 2004 for $769,000.
The Mouna (intense yellow)
The Mouna diamond is a 112.53-carat, VS1 clarity, intense yellow diamond. As of November 1995, it was the largest fancy intense yellow diamond ever to have been graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). This cushion-shaped stone measures 26 mm in diameter and was set by Bulgari in a baguette-cut mount. It was owned by Mouna Ayoub, the former wife of a Saudi Arabian businessman, before being sold by Christie's in Geneva for $3,258,000 in November 1998.
The Incomparable (brownish-yellow)
The Incomparable was found in the 1980s, in the town of Mbuji Mayi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), by a young girl playing in a pile of rubble outside her uncle's house. This rubble had been legitimately collected from old mine dumps in the nearby MIBA Diamond Mine, having been rejected during the recovery process as being too bulky to be worth scanning for diamonds. The 890-carat rough stone was sold to De Beers and then purchased by Donald Zale of Zale Corporation, a Dallas-based jewelry store chain, in partnership with Marvin Samuels, of the Premier Gems Corporation, and Louis Glick, both prominent figures in the New York diamond industry.
The job of overseeing the cutting was given to Mr. Samuels, renowned for his experience and expertise in the faceting of large diamonds. This diamond showed its fair share of problems, and four years were spent studying and then cutting the stone. The Incomparable was the largest gem cut from this stone, and was graded as a Shield-Shaped Step cut, 407.48-carat, fancy brownish-yellow, internally flawless diamond. It is the third largest diamond ever cut, after the Golden Jubilee and the Cullinan I, and measures 53.90 x 35.19 x 28.18 mm. Its unusual triangular shape elicited a new imaginary term from Marvin Samuels - a "triolette." The rough stone however was not uniformly colored. In addition to the Incomparable, fourteen satellite gems were also cut from the rough, ranging in color from colorless to rich yellow with a slight brown overtone, and in size from 1.33 carats to 15.66 carats (this last gem is kite-shaped).
The Incomparable was unveiled on Zale Corporation's 75th anniversary in November 1984. Shortly afterwards it was put on display at the Natural History wing of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. When it was auctioned in New York in 1988, it was the largest diamond ever offered to the public for sale. It was withdrawn after not reaching its $20 million reserve price, and was again withdrawn from sale for the same reason in November 2002, this time on E-bay. Louis Glick is said to still own the stone today.
Hortensia (light orangey pink)
King Louis XIV was responsible for the addition of this 20 carats, pale orangish-pink diamond to the Crown Jewels of France. However, the Hortensia was not among the diamonds that the King purchased from Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, since the largest stone of this particular color that the latter brought back from India weighed only 14.5 carats. The Hortensia was the foremost diamond in the third of the nineteen florets of buttonholes listed in the inventory of the Crown Jewels of France, made in 1691.
The diamond is rather flat and rectangular in shape and is cut on five sides. In the 1791 inventory of the Crown Jewels it was valued at no more than 48,000 livres on account of a crack extending from the edge of the girdle to near the culet. It owes its name to Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland, undoubtedly because she wore it. Hortense was the daughter of Empress Josephine, the step-daughter of Napoleon Bonaparte and the mother of Napoleon III. The Hortensia was among the jewels stolen from the Royal Treasury in September of 1792. One year later, a man named Depeyron disclosed (just prior to his execution) that he had hidden a bag containing gold and diamonds in the attic of an old house in the Halles district. The Hortensia was thus recovered together with The Regent Diamond and a number of other jewels. During the First Empire the Hortensia was mounted on the fastening of Napoleon's epaulette braid. Later it was set in the center of the headband of the great diamond-encrusted comb made by the Court Jeweler, Bapst, for Empress Eugénie in 1856. In between, in 1830, the diamond was stolen again, on this occasion from the Ministry of the Navy, but was quickly recovered. When the French Crown Jewels were sold in 1887, the Hortensia was one of the items excluded from the sale, along with the Regent, because of their historic and artistic interest. They were put in the Louvre, where the Sancy Diamond joined them just under a century later.
"It is a very nice pink color with a slight orangey tone to it," writes Michael Hing, a jeweler from Great Britain. "You could describe it as peach-colored, but definitely on the pink side of peach. It has good clarity but there's quite a large scratch/crack on the pavilion."
The Gruosi (black)
The famous Swiss jeweler Fawaz Gruosi is credited for starting the current enthusiasm for black diamond jewelry in 1996, when he created some eye-catching collections of jewelry and watches set with black diamonds.
The Gruosi diamond is the largest heart shaped black diamond in the world, weighing 115.34 carats. It took three years to cut the Gruosi Diamond. Received rough in 1998 from India and weighing 300.12 carats, it was originally destined to have an oval shape, but as cutting progressed, the material of the stone proved extremely fragile and very difficult to work. (This is not uncommon. The Amsterdam Diamond, another famous black diamond, is a stone whose rough form was originally intended for industrial use. When they tried to saw the diamond apart, they realized it was tougher than most industrial diamond material, a characteristic of a gem-quality black diamond. It was faceted from a 55-carat rough into a 33-carat pear shape.) Another famous black diamond is the 67-carat Black Orlov. The decision was made to cut this diamond in a heart shape, despite the considerable loss of carat-weight. In fact, the final weight loss after cutting and polishing was approximately 184.78 carats. This heart-shaped diamond was cut in Antwerp by one of the greatest black diamond cutting specialists.
Mr. Gruosi has set this diamond as the centerpiece of a white gold necklace, which he has decorated with 58.77 carats of smaller black diamonds, 378 white diamonds and 14.10 carats of tsavorite garnets.
Grand Condé (fancy pink)
The Condé (or Grand Condé) is a fancy pink diamond, cut in the form of a pear, weighing 9.01 carats.
The family of the Condé princes was one of the most important branches of the French house of Bourbon. One of its best-known members, Louis II (1621-1686), also called "the Grand Condé", was already governor of the Bourgogne region at age 17. It is under his command that the French beat Spain in 1634 during the battle of Rocroi, which brought to an end the Thirty-year war.
After having won France several victories, particularly Nördlingen (1645), Dunkirk (1646) and Lens (1648), Condé rebelled and placed himself under the service of Spain. In 1660, he was pardoned and regained his place at Chantilly (France). It's just after the battle of Rocroi that Louis XIII gave Louis II this beautiful diamond, probably in recognition of the services he had rendered.
In 1886, the Duke of Aumale, direct descendant of Condé, handed the stone over to the Institut de France, which has held it ever since.
Florentine (light yellow)
This diamond is also known under the names Tuscan, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Austrian Yellow. The first traces of the Florentine can be found in the XIIIth Century. It probably came from Asia via the usual commercial routes and fell into the hands of the very rich Medici, a family of Florentine bankers, merchants and patrons. Over the centuries, this family acceded to power and became the Grand Dukes of Tuscany.
In 1657, the famous gem collector Tavernier went to the court of the then Grand Duke, Ferdinand II, in order to examine the Florentine. He published a description as well as a drawing of this stone in his book "The Six Voyages of John Baptiste Tavernier" (Paris, 1676).
At 139 carats, this diamond had 126 facets and a typical Indian cut. It had an irregular nine-sided shape and its color was close to that of a lemon. In 1743, the Florentine joined the jewels on the Crown of Austria but all trace of it was lost with the fall of the Habsburg Empire in 1918. All sorts of wild hypotheses have since surfaced as to its current whereabouts.
Darya-i Nur (pale pink)
The first written trace of the Darya-i Nur (Sea of Light) can yet again be found in the fabulous book "The Six Voyages of John Baptiste Tavernier" (Paris, 1676). In the second half of this book, in Chapter 19, Tavernier published eight of his drawings, the third of which represents a diamond called "Diamanta Grande Table" which he had seen in Golconde in 1642. Recent studies have demonstrated that the Darya-i Nur is actually a major part of the Grande Table.
Many theories had been put forward concerning what became of this diamond, until the publication in 1968 of "Crown Jewels of Iran" by three researchers at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. This book tends to prove that the Nadêr Chah would have been responsible for the disappearance of the most beautiful Indian stones when the Persians invaded Delhi under his command in 1739. It also confirms that at least two famous diamonds, the Darya-i Nur and the Taj-i Mah (Crown of the Moon), each weighing over 100 carats, are part of the jewels of the Crown of Iran.
The Darya-i Nur is thought to weigh 175-195 carats - this is only approximate since the stone is set together with a multitude of smaller diamonds which are of course impossible to unset. The Darya-i Nur is pale pink, completely pure and has exceptional limpidity, a characteristic of the finest Indian diamonds
The Blue Heart (deep blue)
Some reports refer to this unusual diamond as the "Eugenie Blue", although it is now recognized that there is no evidence that the Empress ever owned it.
The Blue Heart weighs 30.82 carats and has a rare, deep blue color. The Parisian firm Atanik Ekyanan of Neuilly cut it into a heart shape in 1909 or 1910, and this date raises the issue of whether the rough stone came from Africa or from India. In 1910 Cartier purchased the diamond and sold it to an Argentinean 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. Mrs. Post donated the Blue Heart to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., where it remains to this day.
The Black Orlov (black)
The Black Orlov is a 67.50-carat cushion-cut stone, a so-called black diamond (actually, a very dark gun-metal color).
Regrettably most accounts of the early history of this diamond must be treated with the utmost skepticism.It has been stated that the stone, also known as The Eye of Brahma, weighed 195 carats in the rough and was then set in an idol near Pondicherry before being owned for a time in the middle of the eighteenth century by the Russian Princess Nadia Vyegin-Orlov. But firstly, there is no evidence of black diamonds being found in India, let alone one of such size. Secondly, it is unlikely that a black diamond would have been retained, since black is generally not considered an auspicious color among Hindus. Thirdly, there never was a prince or princess of the aforementioned name - all Princes Orlov descend from the brothers of Catherine the Great's lover, Count Grigori Grigorievitch Orlov. Fourthly, the cushion shape of the diamond indicates that it was probably polished in the last century.
The stone has been exhibited widely, including at the American Museum of Natural History in 1951, the Wonderful World of Fine Jewelry & Gifts at the 1964 Texas State Fair, Dallas, and the Diamond Pavilion in Johannesburg in 1967. The Black Orlov was owned by Charles F. Winson, New York City gem dealer, who valued it at $150,000. It is mounted in a modern diamond-and-platinum necklace. In 1969, the stone was sold for $300,000, then resold in 1990 at Sotheby's for $99,000
The Ashberg, formerly owned by the Russian crown, is a cushion shaped, amber diamond weighing 102.48 carats.
The stone is said to have been discovered in South Africa and resold by the Russian commercial delegation, in 1934, to Ashberg, a Swedish banker, who had it cut by the Bolin company, former Crown Jewelers to the Court of St. Petersburg. The Ashberg was set in a richly decorated necklace and exhibited at the Amsterdam International Exposition in 1949, in the hope that new diamond artisans would be attracted to the city. The diamond then changed hands several times. It was last heard of in 1981, when it was put up for auction at Christie's but then withdrawn, as its reserve price was not reached.
The Allnatt (vivid yellow)
The Allnatt is a 102.29-carat, cushion cut diamond that has been certified by the GIA as fancy vivid yellow and VS2 clarity.
It is named after its former owner, Alfred Ernest Allnatt, who was a soldier, sportsman, and active patron of the arts.
Its probable origin is the De Beers mine. Mr. Allnatt purchased this diamond in the early 1950s, and commissioned Cartier to make a floral brooch setting for it. The end result was a platinum flower with five petals, a stem and two leaves all set with diamonds.
The Alnatt was auctioned by Christies in Geneva in 1996, where it reached a price of $3,043,496. In 2003, the Allnatt was displayed at the "Splendour of Diamonds" exhibition at the Smithosonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Its current owner is S&T Bancorp.