This month we celebrate April’s birthstone, the diamond, one of the most beloved and desired of all the gemstones. Full of history and intrigue, here are some delicious facts about some of the world’s most famous diamonds.
The Graff Pink—the most expensive diamond ever sold at auction.
The Graff Pink continues to hold the world record for the most expensive diamond ever sold at auction.
Purchased by and named after its owner, British billionaire jeweler Laurence Graff, he paid 45.4 million francs—almost $46 million—for the diamond at a Sotheby’s auction in Geneva, Switzerland in 2010. He quickly renamed it “The Graff Pink.”
The rare pink diamond is rectangular shaped, and weighs 24.78 carats. It is among less than two percent of the world’s diamonds categorized as “potentially flawless” because it needs repolishing.
The diamond was sold by its previous owner, celebrity jeweler Harry Winston, 60 years ago and has been in a private collection until purchased by Graff. Graff’s buying price of $46 million topped a previous world record for the selling price of a jewel at auction.
The “Heart of the Ocean” diamond necklace from Titanic.
Who can forget the iconic “Heart of the Ocean” necklace in James Cameron’s loving film tribute, Titanic. While the necklace in the film was fictional, it had a lore all its own. According to the film’s storyline, the large blue diamond was originally owned by King Louis XIV, and was later cut into a heart shape, to resemble the real Hope Diamond.
Following the worldwide popularity of Titanic, jewelry company Asprey & Garrard created a real “Heart of the Ocean” made with a 170-carat, heart-shaped sapphire, surrounded by 65 30-carat diamonds. There are many replicas of the “Heart of the Ocean” on the market. Many are made with a cubic zirconia sapphire replacing the blue diamond heart, and Swarovski crystals replacing the surrounding diamonds.
Christie’s Elizabeth Taylor jewelry auction.
In December 2011, Christie’s New York held a hugely anticipated auction of the late Elizabeth Taylor’s famed jewelry collection, estimated at $150 million. Taylor’s collection fetched a record-breaking $115 million at auction, including $8.8 million for the Taylor-Burton diamond ring given to her by Richard Burton.
Taylor wore the 33.19 carat rectangular-cut diamond to many events, including Princess Grace’s 40th birthday party in Monaco. Taylor sold the diamond in 1978 following her divorce from Burton to fund her charity work. Thomas W. Burstein of Christie’s said the only time the ring left Taylor’s hand was when she offered it to friends to try on.
The diamond ring was bought by a private buyer from Asia for $8,818,500.
What Marilyn wore to the Gentleman Prefer Blondes movie premier.
Recall the indelible image of Marilyn Monroe singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” dressed in a pink satin evening gown with matching gloves, surrounded by well-dressed men, and diamonds dripping from her neck and wrists?
The centerpiece of her outfit was the Moon of Baroda diamond necklace, which she wore to the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes movie premier. The Moon of Baroda is a stunning pear-shaped, yellow canary diamond that weighed 25.95 carats when it was found. It was later cut into its current pear shape and weighs 24.04 carats.
For more than 500 years, it was owned by the Maharajas of Baroda, India. In 1787, it was sent to the Empress Maria Thérèse of Austria and was also was worn by Marie Antoinette in the 18th century.
It was later stolen by Afghan tribal leader Nadir Shah in 1739, and then returned to Baroda where it remained for almost 200 years. In 1943, it was purchased by Meyer Rosenbaum, who lent it to Monroe for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
In 1991, the diamond was auctioned and sold at Christie’s, New York and is now in a private collection.
Princess Diana’s diamond and sapphire engagement ring.
Following Prince Charles’ proposal to Lady Diana Spencer on February 24, 1981, she chose a gemstone ring from a Garrard catalog, rather than having a diamond ring custom made for her, which was the royal custom.
The decision launched her reputation as “The People’s Princess.” Affordable replicas of her ring were so popular, that it became known as “the commoner’s ring.”
Following her death, Prince William inherited the ring, and he famously presented it to Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, when he asked her to marry him on November 16, 2010.
The ring has an 18-carat, oval sapphire surrounded by 14 round diamonds set in 18K white gold. The ring cost around $60,000 when it was purchased in 1981, and today has been estimated between $500,000 and $4 million.
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