The diamond has been called a girl’s best friend, but in many cases these diamonds were their worst enemy. Throughout the ages diamonds have symbolized beauty and the women who wore them were some of the most beautiful and powerful women to grace this earth. Unfortunately these diamonds also carry with them death, sorrow and misfortune.
10. Taylor Burton Diamond
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor shared a romance full of passion, scandal, infamy, and…expensive jewelry. Elizabeth stole Eddie Fisher from Debbie Reynolds, earning the harsh judgment of the world press and then, after meeting Burton, quickly tossing Fisher aside. Richard Burton also left his wife, Sybil, for Elizabeth, who he nicknamed “Ocean”, for her ability to drown out everything else in his life. This magnetic couple traveled the world in style, dining with royalty and the elite of Hollywood. Burton bought Taylor a series of fabulous gems, such as the teardrop-shaped La Peregrina pearl, but none were more notorious than the 69 carat, pear-shaped Taylor-Burton diamond. This gem became a symbol of the couples’ larger-than-life presence. The Taylor-Burton diamond cost over a million dollars and Taylor wore it proudly to Princess Graces’ 40th birthday party in Monaco. Burton often found Elizabeth in her boudoir, the contents of her jewelry box arrayed around her. When he asked her what she was doing, she would reply, “Playing with my jewels.”
Idea for list provided by Danforth Diamond, experts in engagement rings.
9. The Sancy Diamond
The Sancy is 55.23 carats in size, and it has a distinctive pale lemon yellow coloration. The Sancy diamond’s origins are hazy, but it is thought to be of Indian provenance. This diamond gained notoriety when King Henry the Third chose to wear it on his cap. He always wore a special cap to hide his balding head, and he was said to be very capricious and vain. The Sancy diamond worked its way through many generations of English royalty, and Henry IV “borrowed” it in order to guarantee his expenses when putting together a new army. Unfortunately, the diamond, which was carried by a trusted messenger of the king, did not arrive at its destination. Instead, it was later found in the belly of the dead messenger, after an autopsy. The Sancy then passed through the hands of many more kings, both English and French, until arriving at its current home, The Apollo Gallery, at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
8. The Regent Diamond
The Regent Diamond gained its fame when Napoleon chose to decorate his battle sword with it: the stunning, mammoth diamond is 140.64 carats in size, with a very slight, blue cast. The diamond was said to be discovered at the Golonda mine in India, and spirited out secretly by a slave, who hid it within a cut on his leg. In 1792, all the Crown Jewels of France were stolen, and the Regent Diamond was among the missing gems. Napoleon retrieved the stone for his own use in 1801. Napoleon married twice, and his latter wife was an Archduchess of Austria: she went back to her home country after her husband’s death, and the Regent passed into Austrian ownership. In time, the stone returned to France, as the generous gift of the Archduchess’ father. It now rests in the Louvre, with many other spectacular gems.
7. The Hortensia Diamond
Our next notorious diamond also has a Napoleonic connection: it was named for Hortense, the daughter of Napoleon’s stepchild, the Empress Josephine. The Hortensia is twenty carats in size, with a pale coral cast. This diamond also disappeared, along with other French Crown Jewels, during the theft that took place in 1792. It was later recovered, along with the others, only to be stolen again in 1830. After the theft, the diamond was rapidly located and returned to its rightful owner. This diamond has a crack along its pavilion, unlike the other diamonds on our list. However, it is so steeped in French history and Napoleonic legend, that it retains its pricelessness despite the flaw. The stone now rests in the Louvre, a glittering symbol of France and of the courage of Napoleon, with whom it will always be linked.
6. The Star of Africa Diamond
This diamond is the largest on our list, with an almost unbelievable carat size of 530.20 carats. The stone is also know as the Cullinan I, and it was cut from the original Cullinan diamond, which was over 3000 carats in weight. It is rumored that the diamond was studied in detail for almost 12 months before the cutter felt prepared to facet the stone, which was crafted into a teardrop shape with 74 facets. The Star of Africa gains its notoriety from its inclusion in the Royal Scepter of the British Crown Jewels, which rest under heavy guard at the Tower of London.
5. The Shah Diamond
This diamond was discovered in India around 1450, and it has become a potent symbol of the royalty, war, and history of India from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This diamond weighs 88.7 carats, and it is known for it’s crystalline clarity. The yellow diamond was seized, lost, and reclaimed by three different Shahs during ancient times, and it retains the inscriptions that they left there over time. One Shah, Jehan, chose a telling description of himself to be engraved upon the diamond: “ruler of the world”. However, he too would eventually lose the diamond as it was once again seized by another Shah. After the murder of a Russian member of the diplomatic corps in 1829, the reigning Shah offered the diamond to the Kremlin, as a way of pacifying them and ensuring no violent retribution towards him by the Soviet Union. In this manner, the ownership of the Shah diamond was lost to India forever.
4. The Darya-ye Noor Diamond
This diamond has some other romantic names: it is also referred to as the River or Light, or the Ocean of Light. This pale-rose colored diamond has a carat weight of 182, and it is an important addition to the Crown Jewels of Iran. This diamond was discovered in India, and it has remained there, in the ownership of mughal emperors. As it was passed down from generation to generation, it was eventually adopted as an armband decoration by the reigning Nasser-Al Din Shah Qajar. Various members of Indian royalty would adopt the gem to adorn their headpieces or clothing over the years: when not in use, it remained carefully hidden in the Golestan Palace.
3. The Eureka Diamond
This diamond was the first ever discovered in South Africa, one of the world’s most prolific sources of diamonds. The diamond was found by a young boy, while he worked as a shepherd, along the shores of Hopetown’s Orange River. This diamond weighed in at 231 carats before being faceted. The Eureka diamond eventually traveled to England for the inspection of Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. This famous diamond, like many on our list, was destined to change owners many time, before being purchased by the diamond conglomerate, De Beers, in 1967; it is now on permanent display at the Kimberly Museum in South Africa, where it remains a symbol of one of South Africa’s most lucrative national resources.
2. The Dresden Green
This extraordinary and rare pear-shaped stone weighs in at 40.7- carats, and is named for the capital of Saxony: its unique, deep-green color sets it apart. The Dresden Green came from India, and it was sold to Frederick Augustus II, son of the ruler of Saxony, Frederick Augustus I. Known as Augustus the Strong, Frederick’s father commissioned the construction of many fine buildings in Dresden, and filled them with all manner of glorious art treasures he collected from around the world. Although Frederick Augustus I admired the diamond for years beforehand, Frederick Augustus II was the first to actually own it. The Dresden continued to be passed through royal ownership and admired for its flawless, emerald-green hue. It currently rests in the Albertinium Museum in Dresden: it was once displayed alongside the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian Museum, at the request of noted jeweler Harry Winston, who felt that the Dresden was the only other stone in the world that could hold a candle to the Hope Diamond.
1. The Hope Diamond
No diamond remains more notorious and more renowned than the infamous Hope Diamond, which is surrounded by legend and history. Some believed that this huge, deep-blue diamond, which came from India, was cursed and would bring bad luck or even death to its wearer.
The first famous owner of the Hope Diamond was Louis XIV, the King of France. He bought the diamond from a French gem merchant named Jean Baptiste Tavernier, and its initial size was a staggering 112 3/16 carats. Louis chose to have the stone cut down to 67 1/8 carats, for use in the French Crown Jewels.
Its second owner was the next King of France, Louis XV, who reset the diamond in another royal jewelry piece, the Emblem of the Golden Fleece. During the French Revolution, the diamond was stolen during the looting and it did not surface again for 20 years. In 1812, the diamond reappeared in England under mysterious circumstances, and was snapped up by a wealthy collector, Philip Henry Hope. It remained in his family until it was sold again, and for years afterward, the Hope Diamond bounced back and forth between collectors.
Evelyn Walsh Mclean purchased the diamond in 1912: again, it was reduced and re-cut, this time to 45.52 carats, to suit Walsh’s taste. She relished tales of the Hope Diamond curse, even thought they were unfounded, as it pleased her to own such a notorious gem. She was rumored to keep the stone within the cushions of her sofa as a hiding place.
After her passing, the famed jeweler Harry Winston bought the Hope Diamond and donated it to the Smithsonian Museum, and, from its origins deep with the earth of India, over a billion years ago, it now belongs to the American people.