Famous Gemstones

Famous Diamonds

The Incomparable Diamond There are many famous and infamous diamonds, therefore I would like to describe only a few of these beautiful precious stones, and tell you the most intriguing stories. In the picture you see one of the largest Diamonds ever found, the 'Incomparable', this stone weighed no less than 890 carats when it was found, and now, faceted it is the third largest Diamond in the world, the Incomparable now weighs in at 407,48 carats! To give you an idea how large this gem really is I will give you the exact measurements: 2,12 x 1,39 x 1,11 inches (53.90 x 35.19 x 28.18 mm). From the remaining pieces of the rough Diamond 13 other smaller Diamonds were cut. The Incomparable may not be one of the most famous, but it is definitely worth while knowing, and this stone wasn't discovered until the 80s of the 20th century in Zaire by a young girl who found it in a pile of rubble from the Diamond mines. Because the Incomparable was recently discovered, it is not yet surrounded by legends and myths, but I just wanted you to meet this gorgeous stone!

The largest Diamond ever found is the Cullinan, this stone weighed in at 3.106,00 carats in the rough, that is 621,2 grams. The discovery of the Cullinan is worth mentioning, just like the Incomparable, this Diamond was discovered by accident. Back in 1905 Mr. Frederick Wells walked through the mines of the Premier Mine in South Africa one late afternoon, when he was distracted by a shimmer in the blue Kimberlite. At first Mr. Wells thought he had discovered a large chunk of glass, but it turned out to be a Diamond, the largest Diamond ever found. This Diamond was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the man that had opened the Premier Mine and was present at the day of the find. The stone was sold to the government of Transvaal and insured for one and a quarter million dollars before it was given to King Edward VII of England for his 66th birthday on November 9, 1907. The British sovereign sent the stone to Amsterdam where it was cut by one of the most well known Diamond cutters and traders, Asscher. The first attempt to cleave the stone, after months of observation and study, failed, the Diamond saw broke and the Cullinan miraculously remained whole! It is said that Mr. Asscher fainted when the stone fell into several pieces as planned at the second attempt to cleave it. Eventually the rough Diamond was cut into 9 large stones, among which the stones from the British Crown Jewels and 96 brilliant cut Diamonds.

The largest of the stones that came from the rough Cullinan, is now called The Star of Africa, or the Cullinan I and weighs 520,20 carats. For almost a century this stone was the largest cut Diamond, but nowadays it holds the second place on the list of largest Diamonds. The Star of Africa can be found in the sceptre of the British Crown Jewels and also its 'little brother', the Cullinan II, also called The Lesser Star of Africa, weighs 317,40 carats and holds fourth place in the listing of largest Diamonds. This stone is set in the Imperial Crown. Cullinans III through IX also belong to the British Crown Jewels and are still worn, on occasion, by Elizabeth II. You will be able to admire most of the Cullinan Diamonds at the Tower of London where other beautiful stones like St. Edward's Sapphire are on display also. This Sapphire is set in the Imperial Crown as well.

The largest faceted Diamond is The Golden Jubilee, a beautiful 545,67 carat yellow brown Diamond that has been faceted by the master diamond cutter Gabi Tolkowsky. This stone was presented to the King of Thailand for the 50th anniversary of his reign.

Now that I have mentioned the four largest Diamonds I would like to continue with perhaps the most infamous Diamond of all times, the blue Hope Diamond. Even though this Diamond is much smaller than the Diamonds mentioned above, it is one of the most well known Diamonds and it didn't get its reputation from its beauty. The Hope Diamond was discovered in India in the 17th century, although the stone had been around in this country before this time. The French world traveller Jean Baptiste Tavernier was approached by a slave in India who offered him this stone. At first Tavernier thought he had a beautiful blue Sapphire in his hands, but he discovered rather quickly that this blue gemstone was indeed a Diamond, the largest blue Diamond in the world. Tavernier purchased the stone from the slave and smuggled it to Paris, where he sold it to Louis the Fourteenth later on. According to legend The Hope once was a part of an Indian temple idol, and was one of its eyes. However the second 'eye' has never been found. The latter makes the legend incredible, but the fact that this stone brings ill luck to its owner may be considered proof of a temple desecration. After Louis XIV had gotten a hold of the Hope Diamond, then called the Tavernier Bleu, the Sun King was followed by ill luck. He gave the stone to Madame de Montespan, and she fell into the court's disgrace soon after. The French minister of Finances, Nicholas Fouquet, decided to borrow the stone to get on the good side of the king, but Louis XIV had him arrested and convicted of embezzlement. Thus the Tavernier Bleu fell into the Sun King's lap again. But not only Louis XIV was a victim of this beautiful blue stone's 'wrath', all others that possessed the Hope Diamond after him were subject to ill luck. Marie Antoinette, the queen of the French, was killed by the guillotine. The Diamond disappeared, just like the French Royalty, until a steel blue Diamond appeared in 1830 in the United Kingdom. The shape of this stone was different and it weighed about 20 carats less than the Tavernier Bleu, but soon it would become apparent that this stone attracted the same ill luck as the Tavernier Bleu once did. And it was assumed that this stone was the Tavernier Blue. The Diamond was purchased by the British banker Henry Thomas Hope, and from then forward the stone has been known under the name the Hope Diamond. A descendant of Hope found out what this stone could do, his wife, a well-known actress at the time, left him and he applied for bankruptcy, which caused the stone to change hands and disappear from the public's eye for a while. The stone resurfaced in the possession of Sultan Abdul Hamid II of Turkey, he gave the beautiful Diamond to one of the 237 women in his harem. Subaya, the wife in question, began conspiring against the Sultan and she had to pay for it with her life. One day Evalyn Walsh McLean came to the Sultan's court and she immediately fell for the beauty of this magnificent gem, the Hope Diamond. Se convinced Sultan Abcul to sell the stone to her and eventually succeeded in obtaining the gem. Abdul never received any moneys from the sale of the stone to Mrs. McLean, he was dethroned during the secret sale of the Diamond. In 1911 the Hope Diamond came in Mrs. McLean hands and two years after her death in 1946 the stone was sold to Harry Winston. Winston sold the stone to the American State and the Hope Diamond now can be seen on permanent display in the Smithsonian Institute of Washington D.C.

The name of the next Diamond is known to all over the world, the Koh-I-Noor, this name literally stands for 'Mountain of Light' and it is said that this gem from India has had many owners. The history of this gem has been recorded since 1304 and from this age the belief that whomever possesses the Koh-I-Noor will also rule the world. Because of this belief many battles were fought to obtain this Diamond. According to legend a Sultan had safely hidden the stone underneath his turban, but once he had been defeated in battle he had to give up the gem. He started to take off his turban and the stone fell to the ground. The new owner yelled out 'Koh-I-Noor!' when he saw the stone and hence the gem was named. The Koh-I-Noor can now be seen at the Tower of London and is part of the British Crown Jewels.

I could go on forever, telling you about the Diamonds that are worth mentioning, and to be honest I wasn't all that impressed with Diamonds. Until I started doing the research for this article. Until then "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" was a hollow, empty phrase, but nowI finally understand. The stories on the Diamonds are all intriguing and its beauty, in all its facets, is also irresistible.

Famous Sapphires

There are a few famous and infamous Sapphires, of which you find the description below.

The Star of India Star of India
The Star of India is the largest and most well known Star Sapphire in the world. This exquisite stone weighs 563,35 carats and was allegedly found over three hundred years ago in Sri Lanka. In 1900 J.P. Morgan presented this Sapphire to the New York Museum of Natural History, and today the Star of India is one of the most well known stones in the Morgan-Tiffany Collection of this Museum. The stone is blue-gray in color and was stolen in 1964 along with the Delong Star Ruby by Jack Murphy, also known as Murph the Surf, and two accomplices. After a ransom was paid both stones were recovered.

Stuart Sapphire & St. Edward Sapphire
The Stuart Sapphire is one of the most famous Sapphires belonging to the British Crown Jewels; the St. Edward's Sapphire is the other one. The Stuart Sapphire probably belonged to Charles II, yet it is certain that this stone belonged to James II and he brought this Sapphire with him when he fled to France. After this, Charles Edward inherited the Stuart Sapphire. This Sapphire is now placed in the Imperial State Crown, where it was first set underneath the Black Prince Ruby (actually a Spinel), now it has been replaced by the Lesser Star of Africa, the Cullinan II Diamond. Today the Stuart Sapphire is still set in the Imperial State Crown, but on the other side. The St. Edward Sapphire is also set in the same crown. This Sapphire was set in Edward the Confessor's coronation ring in 1042.

Ruspoli Sapphire
This stone is also known as the Wooden Spoon-Seller Sapphire and the Louis XIV Sapphire. This stone hardly has any flaws except for one small 'feather' and is cut into six facets. The Ruspoli belonged to the French Crown Jewels until the French Revolution and can now be found in the Parisian Museum of Natural History.

Catherine the Great Sapphire
The Catherine the Great Sapphire weighs 337 carats and was presented to Catherine II of Russia by an anonymous admirer. This Sapphire was sold by czar Nicholas II during the First World War to obtain funds for his army. Later on the famous jeweler Harry Winston purchased this stone.