6 Most Famous Diamonds in History

Diamonds have been the subject of dreams and legends for centuries. Some of the world’s largest and most beautiful jewels have been immortalized more than most. Between royal interests, top-secret love affairs and horrible curses, any one of the jewels could be movie material! Do you recognize any of these historic gems?

The Cullinan Diamond

Informally known as the Star of Africa, this incredible diamond was cut into multiple polished gems which now adorn the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. The two most notable are the Cullinan I, or Great Star of Africa, and Cullinan II, the Second Star of Africa. The former is set in the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, which also features rubies, sapphires, emeralds, spinels, and a single amethyst, as well as several smaller diamonds. The Cullinan II keeps its perch in the Imperial State Crown. Both are featured prominently in images of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.

The Hope Diamond

Here’s a diamond you can see for yourself, if you aren’t too afraid of the curse. Currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the Hope Diamond has a history dating back 400 years. The original diamond was part of Louis XIV’s suite of Crown Jewels, and became known as the Hope Diamond when it found its way to banker Thomas Hope in London.

When it was owned by Pierre Cartier (yes, that Cartier), a flurry of “curse” rumors cropped up — possibly to help the stone’s publicity — warning of the pain and misfortune tied to the diamond. The stone made more public rounds around the neck of socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, who wore it until her death in 1947. It was part of Harry Winston’s personal collection for years, until he donated it (wrapped in a plain box, and via U.S. Mail) to the Smithsonian in 1958.

The Orlov Diamond

Another royal beauty, the Orlov or Orloff Diamond belongs to the Kremlin Diamond Fund in Moscow. It was first used in a temple in India, where it was stolen from a statue by a French soldier in the 1700s. The Count Grigory Orlov eventually took ownership of the diamond, and he attempted to use it to win back his former mistress. However, his mistress happened to be none other than Catherine the Great, and she spurned his affections. She commissioned a scepter for the rose-cut, egg-shaped diamond, and the Imperial Sceptre remains in the Kremlin today.

Darya-ye-Noor

This diamond’s Persian name translates to “sea of light,” and it’s often referred to as the Ocean of Light Diamond in Europe and the Americas. This jewel is coveted as the world’s largest pink diamond, and has been cherished by royal families for centuries.

The diamond was first owned by the Kakatiya dynasty in South India, until somewhere around the year 1300. It was then looted and possessed by various families in India and later Persia. The diamond is now part of the Iranian Crown Jewels, and is estimated to be between 175 and 195 carats. The stone’s full weight cannot be properly measured, as the setting is too delicate, and to remove the diamond would destroy it.

Centenary Diamond

Discovered in 1986, the Centenary Diamond is renowned for its flawless color and clarity. The diamond is the third-largest to come from the Premier Mine, and it was named in honor of the Centennial Celebration of the De Beers Consolidated Mines. Cutting the diamond took months, in a super-controlled underground laboratory, to preserve the 274-carat stunner. The jewel is unique for its “ridgeless” heart shape, a very modern and sophisticated cut. De Beers displayed the gem in the Tower of London for years, but the current owner is unknown to the public.

The Heart of the Ocean

The unforgettable blue diamond necklace in the movie Titanic does not, unfortunately, exist. However, The Heart of the Ocean’s story was inspired by a real jewel, and while it wasn’t a diamond, it’s still worth including here simply for its legendary nature.

The “real” Heart of the Ocean was actually called the Love of the Sea, and it was a gift from Titanic passenger Henry Samuel Morley to his 19-year-old mistress, Kate Florence Phillips. The necklace featured a sapphire and diamonds set in platinum, and it was one of the only things the couple planned to take to America to start a new life together.

However, the star-crossed lovers didn’t make it across the ocean. Morley met his end, and Phillips returned to England, with nothing to show for the journey but the necklace and a pregnancy. Her family has since given the necklace to the Nomadic Preservation Society.

Bonus: What Would the Heart of the Ocean Be Worth Today?

Ready to purchase your own historic diamond? Hamra Jewelers has a wide selection of diamonds and gemstones that will only increase in value as you hand them down from generation to generation. Give us a call at 480-946-5110 to see our collection.