Dazzling World Diamonds

Amy Lin of Saffronart shares a note on some significant and interesting diamonds

New York: The saying “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” may not be literally true, but speaks about the ethos of these gems, and the charm and persuasion they continue to carry in our modern society. Diamonds are the most valuable gems in the world in terms of their rarity, clarity and heritage of prestige. Our jewelry guide has more information on understanding the properties of diamonds and their important ‘four Cs’ – cut, clarity, color and carat weight.

Here is a compilation of some of the most highly regarded and storied diamonds to have been sold at public auction, for your viewing pleasure:

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Archduke Joseph Diamond

This phenomenal 76.02 carat diamond was recently sold for nearly $21.5 million. This was a new record price for colorless diamonds, averaging $282,485 per carat. The Archduke Joseph diamond originated from India’s Golconda mines, where historically the best diamonds have been discovered. The Golconda diamonds are admired for their internal flawlessness and their soft, watery clarity. It is not clear how the diamond reached Austria but Archduke Joseph visited Hyderabad in 1893 as a guest of the sixth Nizam, Mahbub Ali Khan. The diamond passed down the royal family until it was sold to an anonymous buyer during World War II.

The Graff Pink Diamond

This exceptionally rare diamond is the most expensive gem ever sold at auction for $46 million. Weighing at 24.78 carats, its fancy pink hue makes it part of the top two percent of diamonds worldwide. The origin of the diamond is not clear. It was owned by celebrity jeweler Harry Winston in the 1950s before it was recently purchased by diamond dealer Laurence Graff who named it the “Graff Pink.”

Wittelsbach Diamond

The Wittlesbach is not only known for its brilliant blue color, but its provenance as well. It once belonged to the Infanta Margarita Teresa of Spain, who was famously painted in Velasquez’s Las Meninas. The gem is one of the finest examples of colored diamonds and fetched an astonishing price of $25.52 million at a 2008 auction. It weighs 35.56 carats with origins stretching back to India. It is even rumored that it was once part of the legendary Hope diamond.

The Blue Hope

Although the Blue Hope has never been sold publicly, its estimated worth is $350 million. The fine blue gem originated in India and weighs 45.52 carats. Ironically named the “Hope,” it has been associated with a series of misfortunes over the years. English banker Henry Thomas Hope bought the gem after it was stolen from French royalty during the Revolution. Soon after inheriting the stone, his son lost his fortunes and the gem was sold to an American widow, Mrs. Edward McLean. Catastrophes fell upon the family as Mrs. McLean’s only child died in an accident and her fortunes were lost. When Harry Winston acquired the diamond in 1949, many of his clients refused to touch it. Currently the Hope diamond is part of the US National Collection and is displayed at the Smithsonian Institute.

The Taylor-Burton Diamond

Richard Burton bought the spectacular 69.42 carat pear-shaped diamond for Elizabeth Taylor in 1969. Burton paid a hefty sum of $1.1 million to Cartier after losing out on the stone at an auction. The stone was promptly renamed Taylor-Burton and was displayed at Cartier’s New York store before Burton could claim it for his beloved Liz. Every day, more than 6,000 people flocked to see the jewel, which the New York Times dubbed ostentatious and vulgar. Elizabeth Taylor wore the diamond to Princess Grace’s 40th birthday party in Monaco before selling it to help build a hospital in Botswana.

The Martian Pink Diamond

This rare 12 carat  pink diamond fetched $17.4 million in an auction earlier this year. Its previous owner Harry Winston named the gem “Martian Pink” in 1974 for the color of the planet, when Americans sent a satellite to Mars.

Yellow Sun-Drop Diamond

This 110.2 carat diamond is one of the largest diamonds to ever be offered at auction. With its intense yellow color that comes from traces of nitrogen trapped in carbon molecules for millions of years, the gem sold for an astounding $10.9 million earlier this year. It was only discovered last year in a South Africa mine and represented the most desirable shade of yellow.

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