Diamonds can be just as famous as their human counterparts. They may not read scripts or play instruments or score touchdowns, but they’ve achieved superstardom in their own unique way. Famed and fabled, these gemstones are renowned worldwide for astounding price tags, magnificent sizes, histories of royal possession and even deadly curses.
Transcending the passage of time and the volatility of trends, these diamonds are imbued with rich histories and legends that often span centuries. Here are 5 of the world’s most famous diamonds:
The Hope Diamond’s beauty is famously tainted with tragedy. Weighing in at a colossal 112 3/16 carats, this cobalt sparkler has journeyed from 17th Century India to its current Smithsonian Institution residence. One of its owners was diamond collector Henry Philip Hope. He was unaware that it carried a curse that inflicted bad luck upon its owners. The curse apparently affected his whole family: they died in poverty. This malevolent stone also supposedly slew Louis XIV, Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette. The curse was said to be unleashed when the gemstone was stolen from a sacred Hindu statue.
In the rough, the Centenary Diamond tipped the scales at 600 carats. This jewel is not only celebrated for its heft, but for its immaculate coloring. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) rated the Centenary Diamond a D in hue, the highest grade for inner and outer perfection. Its appraisal value was confidential, but it was no secret that it was insured for $100 million.
The gem was cut by sixth-generation diamond cutter Gabi Tolkowsky in an underground facility built especially for this diamond. “From the moment I knew I was going to cut it,” he said, “I became another man. A strange man. I was looking at the stone in the day, and the stone was looking at me at night.”
The Taylor-Burton Diamond is a white diamond weighing 69.42 carats. It adorned the engagement ring that actor Richard Burton gave Elizabeth Taylor. After the pair divorced in 1978, Taylor put the ring up for auction. For simply examining it, prospective buyers had to part with $2,500 to cover the expense of displaying it. Taylor donated the proceeds to the construction of a hospital in Botswana. In 1979 it was sold for $3 million and is now thought to be in Saudi Arabia.
Known for her lavish jewelry collection Taylor said, “I adore wearing gems but not because they are mine. You can’t possess radiance. You can only admire it.”
One of the largest known diamonds, the Star of Africa Diamond is an astounding 530.20 carats. It was cut from a diamond called the Cullinan, which was a monumental 3,106 carats and weighed about 1 ½ pounds. The cutter studied the jewel in painstaking detail for 12 months before he felt ready to chisel it into a 74-facet teardrop.
Unlike the other diamonds on this list, Meghan Markle’s may not be boulder-size or have their legendary histories, but its fame is spreading exponentially. Women thronged to buy knockoffs of her wardrobe, and now they are flocking for replicas of her ring.
Bookended by two smaller stones is a 3-carat diamond from the late Princess Diana’s personal jewelry collection. Experts estimate its value as approximately $350,000. However, there are some who disagree. “There is no way for anyone to put a value on the whole ring,” says Michael Fried, CEO of The Diamond Pro, a company that acquires superior, affordable diamonds. “Having diamonds from the royal collection that Princess Diana wore makes the ring priceless.”
Fame is often fleeting, but diamonds are perennial stars. Diamonds are, indeed, forever.