We all know that it is quite possible to spend anywhere from one to three months’ worth of salary on a diamond engagement ring – but how much are the really fabulous stones valued at? Let us take a look at three of the world’s biggest and best diamonds.
The Cullinan Diamond(s)
Named for the owner of the mine where it was found, it was during a routine inspection that supervisor Frederick Wells spotted something gleaming out at him from the rock face. Removed from its stony home, the diamond proved to weigh a massive 1.33 pounds in weight – or 3,106 carats! Sent off to be cut, the massive stone was sent quietly in a plain box, while an ornate and well-guarded decoy aimed to distract would-be thieves. Put into the hands of one of Antwerp’s finest cutters, Joseph Asscher (who, incidentally, is credited with inventing the Asscher cut for diamonds, a squarish cut that is soft than a princess-cut and yet more angular than a cushion-cut) the stone first shattered Asscher’s blade when he attempted to cut the stone.
His second attempt broke the diamond along precisely the lines he had planned, and yet the strain was so great that he fainted in the heat of the moment! The great stone, of remarkable purity and color, was cut into over one hundred smaller stones, and nine larger ones, of which three can be seen in the Crown Jewels in the UK. The total value of the Cullinan’s component parts is easily over US$2 billion!
The Koh-i-Noor Diamond
Panned from a river bed in ancient India which was a rich source of such alluvial gems, the Koh-i-Noor is perhaps a perfect example of the troubling legacy of colonial times. ‘Confiscated’ (to use a very loose interpretation of the term!) by the British in 1849, the stone has been in the hands of the UK royal family ever since – and even if there was an inclination to return the stone in a goodwill gesture, it is impossible to say to whom the stone rightfully belongs, with time, history and the vagaries of cartographers having wrought something of a mess on the map, and leaving India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan’s Taliban and more all determined to prove that their claim to the stone is the strongest!
Today, the stone can be found in the late Queen Mother’s crown, on display in the Tower of London, along with the rest of the Crown Jewels. A massive D-rated stone that is 105.6 carats in weight, the Koh-i-Noor – if available for sale – would cost anywhere from US$10 to 12 billion! So valuable is the stone that in its known existence it has never been sold, exchanging hand through being stolen or other ‘acquired’ or through being gifted onwards.
The Hope Diamond
The only fancy stone in this top-three list, the Hope Diamond is a deep grayish blue, cut into an antique cushion shape and rated VS1. The Hope Diamond has a reputation for being a cursed stone, possibly because the elements that give it its unique coloration also cause it to fluoresce red after exposure to a black-light, the phenomenon lasting some moments after the light is removed. Like the Koh-i-Noor the stone’s early history is unknown, but it is assumed that it was found in India’s rich alluvial river-beds, passing into the hands of the wealthy and acquired by J B Tavernier in the 1660s.
At this time it was known as the French Blue, and was smuggled to London (it is surmised) and hastily cut into the formation it holds today, passing into the collection of Thomas Hope, from which it takes its current name. The stone which is in the hands of the Smithsonian Museum is worth between US$200-US$350 million – or it would be if its current owners, the American people, decide to sell!
It is highly unlikely that your diamond hunting expeditions will find anything like these beautiful and immense stones nestling in a drawer at your local jeweler! But just in case, check out the diamond price calculator at Pricescope to make sure you have enough money saved up!
Disclosure: This article was written by a guest author.