Recent discussion in the news of the fake ruby valued at £11million pounds make me think of the genuinely most famous and valuable gem stones. I thought I would look to familiarize myself with the some of the most famous gems and take a look at why they have reached that status.
The Hope Diamond. The 45.52 carat steel blue Hope Diamond was found in India. It weighs approximately 12 carats. It first came to public attention when Jean Batiste Tavernier, a famous French traveler of the 17th century, was approached in India by a slave who had an intriguing steel blue stone which appeared to be a large sapphire Tavernier soon realized it was a diamond – the largest deep blue diamond in the world. Legend has it the diamond came from the eye of an idol in a temple on the colroon River in India. If that is the case, one can only imagine that the eye must have had a mate, but its fate never come to light. Tavernier purchased the stone and smuggled it to Paris, where he later sold it to King Louis XIV. It was cut there into a triangular-pear-shaped stone weighing 67.50 carats, and was then known as the French Blue
The Star of India. At 563.35 carats, the Star Of India is the largest and most famous star sapphire in the world. It was discovered more than 300 years ago, in Sri Lanka, where excellent sapphires are still to be found in deposits of sand and gravel left by ancient rivers. Industrialist and financier J. P. Morgan presented the sapphire to the New York Museum of Natural History in 1900 and even today this stone is one of the most famous objects in all of the Museum’s collections. In 1964 the Star of India (along with the Delong Star Ruby) was the object of an infamous burglary, both gems were recovered.
The Star of Africa. A pear shaped diamond weighing 530.20 carats is also known as the Cullinan I. It’s called the Cullinan I because it’s the largest of the 9 large stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond. The Cullinan II is the massive 317.40 carat cushion shaped diamond in the center-front of the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain. The Crown also features the Black Prince’s Ruby, as well as St. Edward’s Sapphire, and the Stuart Sapphire. The Star of Africa holds the place of 2nd largest cut diamond in the world. The Star of Africa is on display with the other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.
The Spirit of de Grisogono. At 312.24 carats is the world’s largest cut black diamond, and the world’s 5th largest diamond. The gem stone gets its name from Swiss jeweler de Grisogono, who was the was the first major jeweller to create collections of black diamond jewelry and watches. This diamond originally had a rough weight of 587 carats and was mined several decades ago in west Central Africa before being imported into Switzerland. It was then cut using the Mogul diamond cutting technique – this historic cutting method was developed centuries ago in India and can be seen in a number of historic diamonds.
The Tiffany Yellow. Found in 1877 / 1878. It was cut under the supervision of the distinguished gemologist George F. Kunz in 1878, yielding a cushion-cut brilliant of 128.54 carats. The gem is high in fluorescence and retains this rich color in artificial light, but is even more beautiful by day. The Tiffany Yellow is a rare canary yellow. This diamond is on show in Tiffany’s in New York and I was very excited to see this on a trip to New York in 2000.