In this post we will be looking at five famous African diamonds that have come from the country’s famed diamond mines. None of the stones we will talk about are famous because they set a world record price at auction or because a celebrity owned it. No, these diamonds are all famous because of their history or because they are unique in some way.
The Heart of Eternity
Weight: 27.64 Carats
Estimated Value: £11.6 Million ($16 Million)
The Heart of Eternity is one of the finest large blue diamonds ever found and is on a par with the Hope Diamond in terms of colour and clarity. It was found in the Premier Diamond Mine in South Africa, which is known for the amount of blue diamonds found there but none match the quality of this one.
The Heart of Eternity also has the distinction of being owned by two of the biggest names in the diamond industry the Steinmetz Group and De Beers. The stone was cut into the heart shape by the Steinmetz Group before selling it to De Beers. In the year 2000 it was unveiled as part of the De Beers Millennium Jewels collection, which also includes another stone mentioned in this list. It was one of the stones targeted by the infamous Millennium Dome heist.
The stone was reportedly sold to boxer Floyd Mayweather in 2012 but this in unconfirmed due to De Beers strict code of confidentiality.
The Tiffany Yellow Diamond
Weight: 128.5 Carats
Estimated Value: £20 Million ($27 Million)
The Tiffany Yellow Diamond is one of the largest canary yellow diamonds in the world but it is the most famous due to who owns the stone. It was purchased in 1878 by the founder of Tiffany & Co, Charles Tiffany. The rough crystal weighed 287.4 carats and it was the largest natural yellow diamond ever found and it is believed that it came from the famed diamond Kimberley Mine in South Africa. The stone was cut under the supervision of Tiffany & Co’s head gemmologist Dr George Frederick Kunz and the result was a modified brilliant cushion cut with a total of 82 facets.
The diamond rose to fame due to the 1961 hit film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. At this point it was set in the Ribbon Rosette necklace that was created by Tiffany jeweller Jean Schlumberger which was made to promote the film. Since then it has been displayed in Tiffany’s flagship store on 5th Avenue in New York but in 1995 it was re-set in the Bird on a Rock setting in which it is still displayed in today.
The Millennium Star
Weight: 203.04 Carats
Estimated Value: £72 Million ($100 Million)
The rough crystal that would become the Millennium Star was found in the Mbuji-Mayi district of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1990 and weighed 777 carats. From rough to finished stone took over three years and it travelled all over the world including Belgium and South Africa before being finished in New York.
The diamond was unveiled as the centerpiece of the De Beers Millennium Jewels collection and was the main target of the botched Millennium Dome heist. It has also been displayed at the Smithsonian as part of The Splendor of Diamonds exhibition in 2003 alongside many other famous diamonds. The diamond has been given a D colour and is reportedly flawless both externally and internally. The estimated value is what De Beers have insured the diamond for.
The Centenary Diamond
Weight: 273.85 Carats
Estimated Value: £108 Million ($148 Million)
The Centenary Diamond was discovered at the Premier Mine in 1986 and in its rough form weighed 599 carats and the rough diamond was unveiled at the Centennial Celebration of De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1988. The final cut stone would not be completed until early 1991, the cutting process was overseen from start to finish by famed diamond cutter Gabi Tolkowsky. The final design of the diamond was a modified heart cut with a total of 247 facets.
It was unveiled to the public in May 1991 and De Beers insured the diamond for $100 million. De Beers leant the diamond to the Tower of London where the stone was displayed for a number of years. The current owner of the diamond is unclear as De Beers will not reveal who purchased the stone from them.
The Cullinan I (Star of Africa)
Weight: 530.20 Carats
Estimated Value: £290 Million ($400 Million)
The Star of Africa was cut from the largest rough diamond ever found. The Cullinan Diamond weighed an incredible 3,106 carats and was found at the South African Premier Mine No 2 in 1905. Named after Sir Thomas Cullinan who was the mine owner. Cutting such a large rough diamond would take expert skill and the man chosen to oversee this was Joseph Asscher, head of the Asscher Diamond Company of Amsterdam. His previous experience of cutting the Excelsior Diamond made him the perfect man for the job. After lots of planning, the diamond was finally cut and the results would yield nine large diamond and approximately one hundred smaller stones.
The largest of the nine large diamonds would be known as the Cullinan I or the Star of Africa and is a pear cut 503.20 carat diamond and to this day it is still the largest colourless diamond in the world. Along with the other eight large diamonds, the Cullinan I would become an important part of the Crown Jewels. When not on display at the Tower of London, the Cullinan I proudly sits as part of the Royal Spectre.
While an estimated value has been placed on this stone, like its royal counterpart the Koh-I-Noor the Cullinan I is truly a priceless diamond.
We would like to that Tiffany & Co, De Beers and the Tower of London for the images used in this post.