Hope diamond

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dom pedroThe Dom Pedro is a stunning example of March’s official birthstone, and is also the largest faceted aquamarine specimen in the world.

At 1,363 carats and nearly 36cm tall, the fantasy-cut Dom Pedro aquamarine can certainly hold its own – even when on display at the Smithsonian’s Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, which houses other highly valuable gems like the Hope Diamond and the De Young Red Diamond.

The Dom Pedro was cut from part of a meter-long, 45kg aquamarine crystal that was discovered in the 1980’s in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. While in transportation, the crystal actually fractured into three separate pieces. The two smaller pieces were eventually cut into many smaller gemstones, but the largest was kept intact as it embodied an exquisite greenish-blue hue and amazing clarity. This largest piece was sold to none other than legendary gem-cutter Bernd Munsteiner, known as the “Father of the Fantasy Cut” and “the Picasso of Gems”.

According to the Smithsonian, the first time that he laid eyes on the gem he proclaimed that it was love at first sight!

Munsteiner spent over four months studying the rough and making hundreds of sketches before he settled on the aquamarine’s dom pedro munsteinerfinal pattern. It was to be his most famous “fantasy cut” gem, a cutting technique where negative cuts are faceted into the back of a gemstone to reflect the light within.

During the six months it took to hand cut the gem, he was never concerned about the final carat weight; he opted instead to cut for beauty and brilliance, rather than price. “When you focus on the carat weight, it’s only about the money,” said Munsteiner. “I cannot create when I’m worried about the money.”

The finished masterpiece was unveiled at the 1993 Baselworld Gem Fair, and later bought by private collector Jane Mitchell and her husband Jeffrey Bland. They gifted the stone to the Smithsonian’s National Gem and Mineral Collection in 2011, and by the end of 2012 Dom Pedro was added to the permanent exhibition and continues to be a top attraction.

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nizamThe Duchess of Cambridge stepped out on her first official event of the year in great style, with an elegant navy Jenny Packham evening gown and her signature wavy locks. But what stole the show was what she was wearing on her neck, a priceless diamond necklace known as the Nizam of Hyderabad.

Named after the man who bestowed this extravagant gift, it has been a part of the Royal Collection of Jewels since 1947 when the Nizam of Hyderabad gave it to Queen Elizabeth II as a wedding gift. At the time, the Nizam was one of the richest men in India, and he governed over an area that indisputably is the origin of the most valuable diamonds in the world. The Golconda region, located just west of the Hyderabad district has produced large diamonds of such purity and quality that many are located in museums and royal collections to this day. The Hope diamond (Smithsonian Natural History Museum), Daria-i-Noor (Central Bank of Iran), Koh-i-Noor (British Crown Jewels), and the Archduke Joseph (recently sold at auction for a record-breaking price) are some famous diamonds with Golcandan provenance.nizam

This is the first time where the Duchess has stepped out in jewels from the royal vault, and she chose the fundraising gala at the National Portrait Gallery in London.  Despite the host of celebrities also attending and the priceless paintings themselves, all eyes were on the Duchess’ neckline. Media reports speculate that Kate will be undergoing a change in wardrobe to look more regal in the coming months.

The Nizam of Hyderabad is constructed of colorless diamonds and platinum, featuring a double drop pear-shaped pendant and thirteen emerald cut diamonds. It is seen worn by the Queen in many official portraits, and like other priceless jewelry pieces is unlikely ever to leave the British Crown’s possession.

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For the past thousand years collectors of the most rare and expensive diamonds have become popular among the rich and royalty, now most diamonds and rare stones are set in museums for all to see and admire. Diamonds have become a mining project with a huge demand.  See a list below of some of the most expensive and famous diamonds in the world.

Koh-I-Noor

Koh-i-noor

                       

This diamond is so precious that its price can’t ever be estimated.  It is a 105 carat measuring at approximately 36 X 32 X 10 mm , once the largest diamond in the world. Came from Andhra Pradesh in India, and the name is Persian for Mountain of Light. It was carried by the hands of many Persian, Sikh and Mughul rulers who fought over it constantly. When India fell in the hands of the English it was taken by them.  Currently the gem is preserved in HM Tower of London and is a famous tourist attraction.

The Sancy Diamond

This diamond is also so precious that it is also priceless. It weighs approximately 11 grams and is pale yellow in colour. It was in the procession of the Mughuls and originated in India. It is the first diamond of its size to be cut with symmetrical facets and is unusual because it doesn’t have any pavilion. It has pairs of crowns one above the other. This diamond is stored in Louvre at the French Crown Jewel Collection.

The Cullinan

This diamond is 3,106.75 carats and 4 inches in diameter! It is known as the biggest rough quality diamond in the world.  It was found in South Africa and when polished goes by the name Great Star of Africa. It now rests in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

The Hope Diamond

hope diamond

This diamond costs $350 million and weighs 45.52 carats. By just looking at it the stone seems blue in color because of the crystal structure and many traces of boron, but when observed with ultraviolet light it is a red phosphor. The precious beauty is now kept in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

De Beers Centenary Diamond

This diamond goes at a pretty price of 100 million dollars and is classified by GIA at a D level. The diamond is colourless and flawless inside and out and weighs 273.85 carats. Found in the De Beer’s Premier Mine and is the 3rd largest diamond found there.

The Steinmetz Pink

This diamond is rated a Vivid Pink by the GIA and weighs approximately 12 grams. It is called the largest diamond with the fancy colour pink. This gem was displayed in the exhibition of Smithsonian’s Museum at the Splendor of Diamonds show.

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Diamond“No country but India produces diamonds. Those which are brought to our part of the world are only the refuse, as it were, of the finer and larger stones. For the flower of the diamonds are all carried to the Great Khan and other kings and princes of the region. In truth they possess all the treasures of the world.”

Marco Polo

Although Marco Polo lived in a time before mines in Canada, Russia, South Africa, Australia were discovered, diamonds discovered in his era are some of the most famous in the world.

Many of these most famous diamonds hail from the Golkonda (alternative spelling: Golconda) region which was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Golkonda in south India, ruling from 1518 – 1687 AD. The Kingdom towered above an expansive granite wall approximately 120 meters high on all sides, with additional granite structures surrounding it. It was aptly named the Golconda Fort, wherein it housed the most powerful Muslim sultanates of the region and also a flourishing diamond trade center – the first of its kind.

The Golconda mines, aside from producing stones of astonishing size, also lend these diamonds a quality that goes beyond the 4 C’s. Diamonds of proven Golconda provenance are a specific type of rare diamond classified as Type IIa. This classification is assigned to approximately 1% of all diamonds, and denotes the highest carbon purity, with either miniscule or no amounts of nitrogen in the crystal lattice structure. Nitrogen is the elemental impurity which imparts a yellowish hue in diamonds, so the lack of nitrogen makes for a pure colorless (D, E, F) color diamond. However it is not a mutually exclusive relationship; just as not all colorless diamonds are Type IIa, not all Type IIa diamonds are of Golcondan origin. Nowadays though, it is common for people in the industry to refer to any Type IIa diamonds as “Golconda material”.

Perhaps due to this highly pure carbon composition, they also exhibit a superior degree of transparency. Despite being the most defining quality of diamonds of this origin, it has been notoriously difficult to describe in words. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a 17th century French explorer, described these gems to be “pools of crystal water”. This trait gives the diamond a softer, pure look, as the light just seems to pass right through it as if it were invisible.

In addition to this, they also exhibit a soft blue glow when exposed to natural sunlight. Golconda stones are the true blue white diamonds of legend. This is not to be confused with blue ultraviolet fluorescence, prevalent in over 30% of diamonds, which causes the diamond to reflect a blue color under dark UV lighting.

To summarize, Golcondan diamonds can be identified through these three characteristics: an ultra-white appearance, high degree of limpidity in the crystal, and a slight blue glow in direct sunlight.

Some of the famed diamonds excavated from the mines include the Darya-i-Noor and the Noor-ol-Ain, two pale pink diamonds of approx. 185 carats and 60 carats respectively, which both reside in the Iranian crown jewels. Another fancy colored Golcondan diamond, perhaps the most-well known jewel of all, is the Hope Diamond, a 45.52ct fancy dark grayish blue that is displayed in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Other diamonds with the same lineage include the Wittlesbach, the Regent, and the Koh-i-Noor.

True Golcondan diamonds, if not housed in the finest museums or part of a country’s imperial crown jewels, demand a significant premium on the secondary market. The Archduke Joseph diamond, a 76.45 carat colorless, flawless diamond of Golcondan origin, was sold recently for a record price of $21 million.

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