5 of the Most Famous Diamonds in the World

All diamonds are special, but there are a few that are truly extraordinary. Learn more about five of the most famous diamonds in the world and the captivating stories behind them.

The Tiffany Yellow Diamond

Uncut: 287.4 Carats

Cut: 128.5 Carats

The largest yellow diamond ever mined, the 287-carat Tiffany Diamond was discovered in 1877 in South Africa’s reknowned Kimberely Mine. Purchased by the “King of Diamonds” and founder of Tiffany & Co. Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1878, the diamond was sent to Paris where gemologist George Kunz fashioned the stone into a 128-carat cushion-cut brilliant with 90 facets. One of the most prominent stones within pop culture, the diamond was set in designer Jean Schlumberger’s Ribbon Rosette necklace worn by Audrey Hepburn for her Breakfast at Tiffany’s publicity photos. In 1995, Jean Schlumberger designed a piece around the Tiffany Diamond yet again, when he created his “Bird on a Rock” brooch for his own career retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. In 2012, the diamond was reset into a diamond and platinum necklace in honor of Tiffany & Co.’s 175th anniversary. Most recently, the necklace was worn by Lady Gaga to the 91st Academy Awards, and now sits on display at Tiffany & Co.’s flagship store in New York City.

The Hope Diamond

Uncut: Unknown

Cut: 45.52 Carats

Named for the British financier and gem collector who owned the stone in the 1830s, Phillip Henry Hope, the blue Hope Diamond has an intriguing history; some even claim the diamond is cursed. According to legend, the Hope Diamond was stolen from the eye of a holy Hindu statue by a French merchant, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. Outraged, Hindu priests put a curse on anyone who owned the gem. In reality, the merchant most likely bought the stone from Kollur Mine in India, which he sold in 1668 to King Louis XIV of France. Eventually, the king had the original 115.6 carat diamond cut down to 67 carats by his court jeweler. The Hope Diamond, or “French Blue” as it was known then, was stolen from the government during the French Revolution. In 1839, the diamond resurfaced when it was purchased by Phillip Henry Hope, and became known as the Hope Diamond. The gem stayed in the Hope family until 1909 when it was sold to Pierre Cartier. Eventually, the diamond was purchased by an American socialite, Evalyn Walsh McLean. McLean had the diamond mounted on a headpiece surrounded by white diamonds, and then later set into a pendant necklace. Upon her death in 1949, McLean’s jewelry collection was purchased by Harry Winston, who donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institute.

Koh-i-Noor

Uncut: 793 Carats

Cut: 105.6 Carats

The Koh-i-Noor was discovered in the 13th century in India’s Kollur Mine, weighing 186 carats. Throughout its storied history, the Koh-i-Noor has belonged to some of history’s greatest rulers and conquerors, including Persian conqueror Nadir Shah who gave the stone the name Koh-i-Noor, or Mountain of Light. In 1849, the East India Trading Company acquired the diamond and presented it to Queen Victoria. In 1851, the diamond was put on display in The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. Though large, the diamond lacked brilliance, and Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, ordered it be polished and recut. After a 38-day cutting, the diamond weighed its current 105.6 carats and boasted 66 facets. The diamond was then mounted into a honeysuckle brooch and circlet, and was worn by the queen as part of her personal jewelry collection. When Queen Victoria passed away in 1901, the stone was reset in the Crown of Queen Alexandra in 1902, then to Queen Mary’s Crown in 1911, and finally the Queen Mother’s Crown in 1937. Today, the Koh-i-Noor is part of the British Crown Jewels, which you can see on display in the Tower of London. Where the Koh-i-Noor should reside is a topic of hot debate though, as India, Pakistan and Afghanistan all claim to be the rightful owner of the storied diamond.

The Orlov

Uncut: 787 Carats

Cut: 189.62 Carats

Yet another diamond found in India’s famed Kollur Mine, the Orlov was discovered in the 17th century, weighing a whopping 787 carats. According to various legends, the diamond served as an eye of a temple deity, was stolen by a French army deserter and was passed from merchant to merchant until the middle of the 18th century, when Iranian millionaire Shaffrass sold the diamond to Count Grigory Grigorievich Orlov, a romantic interest of Russia’s Catherine the Great. Though their affair lasted many years and produced a child, Catherine chose to leave the count behind and pursue a relationship with Grigori Alexandrovich Potemkin. In an effort to win back her affections, Count Orlov gifted her the diamond, which she named after him and had set in Imperial Scepter, which was completed in 1774. In reality, Catherine actually bought the diamond herself, fabricating the elaborate story of Count Orlov’s gift to avoid scrutiny about her spending habits. One of the most unique diamonds in the world due to its unusual egg-like shape and blueish-green tint, the 189-carat diamond remains set in Catherine the Great’s scepter at the Kremlin Diamond Fund in Moscow.

The Centenary Diamond

Uncut: 599 Carats

Cut: 273.8 Carats

The Centenary Diamond, also known as the De Beers Centenary Diamond, was discovered in the Premier Mine in South Africa in 1986 through X-ray imaging technology. The third-largest diamond to be found in the mine, the Centenary Diamond is internally and externally flawless, and is the highest grade of colorless diamond. Owned by famed diamond corporation De Beers, the rough stone made its public debut at the Centennial Celebration of De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1988. After the reveal, diamond-cutter Gabi Tolkowsky and his team were chosen to fashion the gem into 247-facet, 273-carat, heart-shaped brilliant cut it is today. Tolkowsky presented 13 hand-cut designs to the De Beers team before a final design was chosen. The cutting took a total of 154 days in a specially-designed underground room at the De Beers Diamond Research Laboratory in Johannesburg, South Africa. After its completion in 1991, De Beers loaned the diamond to the Tower of London to be put on display, where it remained for years. Today, it is believed De Beers sold the Centenary to a private buyer, but the company cannot confirm or deny the current owner due to a strict anonymity policy.

For hundreds of years, diamonds have remained one of the most sought-after, coveted treasures in the world, causing wars, conquests and disputes all in the name of staking a claim on one of history’s most exquisite gems. Though few will ever own a diamond comparable to the ones above, you can find a stunning diamond to call your own – all it takes is a trip to Sissy’s Log Cabin. Our diamond selection is full of high-quality, breathtaking gems in an array of cuts, colors, settings and price ranges, and can all be purchased through one of the best financing plans available. From dazzling engagement rings to one-of-a-kind estate pieces to fine jewelry to your own brilliant custom creation, our jewelry experts can help you find the diamond piece you’ll cherish for lifetime. Give us a call to learn more about our diamond selection, or stop by a Sissy’s Log Cabin near you to shop.