Most expensive diamond in the world

Written by: Hagai Bichman

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Time to read 19 min

The most expensive diamond in the world is the legendary Cullinan Diamond,

Also known as the Great Star of Africa.

This exceptional gemstone has a fascinating history that dates back to the early 20th century when it was discovered in a South African mine.

What is the Name and History of the Most Expensive Diamond in the World -

The most expensive diamond in the world is the legendary Cullinan Diamond, also known as the Great Star of Africa. This exceptional gemstone has a fascinating history that dates back to the early 20th century when it was discovered in a South African mine.

The Cullinan Diamond was unearthed on January 26, 1905, by Frederick Wells, a superintendent at the Premier Mine in Cullinan, South Africa. When it was first discovered, the diamond was an astonishing 3,106 carats, making it the largest rough diamond ever found. Its name was derived from the mine's location, which was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine.

The massive diamond was initially believed to be a piece of glass or a large crystal due to its extraordinary size. However, upon closer inspection, it became clear that this was an exceptional gemstone of unparalleled quality and rarity.

After its discovery, the Cullinan Diamond was purchased by the Transvaal colonial government and presented as a gift to King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. The diamond was then transported to Amsterdam, where it was cleaved and polished by the famous Asscher brothers, master diamond cutters.

The cutting process was a monumental task, as the Cullinan Diamond was too large for the existing equipment. It took nearly a year and several attempts before the diamond was successfully cleaved into two main parts, along with several smaller pieces.

The largest polished diamond, known as the Cullinan I or the Great Star of Africa, weighs an incredible 530.2 carats and is mounted in the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross, one of the British Crown Jewels. The second-largest polished diamond, the Cullinan II or the Second Star of Africa, weighs 317.4 carats and is set in the Imperial State Crown, also part of the Crown Jewels.

The Cullinan Diamond's history is not only remarkable for its sheer size and value but also for its symbolism and significance. It represents the rich diamond mining heritage of South Africa and has become an iconic emblem of wealth, power, and prestige. The diamond's journey from the depths of the earth to the pinnacle of royal regalia is a testament to human ingenuity and the enduring allure of these precious gemstones.

Today, the Cullinan Diamond continues to captivate the world with its brilliance and grandeur, serving as a reminder of the extraordinary treasures that nature has to offer and the incredible craftsmanship required to transform them into objects of unparalleled beauty.

How Much Did the Most Expensive Diamond in the World Cost, and Who Owns It -

The most expensive diamond in the world is the legendary Cullinan Diamond, also known as the Great Star of Africa. This exceptional gemstone has a fascinating history and an equally astonishing price tag that reflects its rarity and significance.

When the Cullinan Diamond was discovered in South Africa's Premier Mine in 1905, it weighed an incredible 3,106 carats in its rough form, making it the largest rough diamond ever found. After its discovery, the diamond was purchased by the Transvaal colonial government for a staggering £150,000 (equivalent to around $23 million today).

However, the true value of the Cullinan Diamond lies in its polished form. After being cleaved and polished by the renowned Asscher brothers in Amsterdam, the diamond yielded several stunning gems, the two largest being the Cullinan I and the Cullinan II.

The Cullinan I, also known as the Great Star of Africa, is the largest polished diamond in the world, weighing an astonishing 530.2 carats. This breathtaking gem is priceless and is considered a national treasure of immense historical and cultural significance.

While the exact monetary value of the Cullinan I is difficult to determine due to its unique status and rarity, experts have estimated its worth to be anywhere between $400 million and $2 billion. However, it is widely believed that the Cullinan I is simply priceless and cannot be adequately valued in monetary terms.

The Cullinan II, or the Second Star of Africa, is the second-largest polished diamond from the original Cullinan rough, weighing an impressive 317.4 carats. Although not as large as the Cullinan I, the Cullinan II is still an exceptionally valuable gem, with estimates placing its worth between $200 million and $400 million.

Both the Cullinan I and the Cullinan II are owned by the British Crown and are part of the prestigious Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. The Cullinan I is mounted in the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross, while the Cullinan II is set in the Imperial State Crown.

The ownership of these priceless diamonds by the British Crown is a testament to their historical and symbolic significance. They represent the wealth, power, and grandeur of the British monarchy, and their presence in the Crown Jewels ensures that they will be preserved and admired for generations to come.

While the exact cost and value of the Cullinan Diamond may be difficult to quantify in monetary terms, its importance and impact on the world of gemstones and jewelry are undeniable. As the most expensive diamond in the world, it stands as a symbol of human ingenuity, natural beauty, and the enduring allure of these precious gemstones.

Where Was the Most Expensive Diamond in the World Discovered, and What Are Its Unique Features -

The expensive diamond, the legendary Cullinan Diamond, was discovered in the Premier Mine in Cullinan, South Africa, on January 26, 1905. This exceptional gemstone has captivated the world with its sheer size, exceptional quality, and unique features that make it truly one-of-a-kind.

The Premier Mine, also known as the Cullinan Diamond Mine, was a significant source of diamonds in the early 20th century and was owned by the Transvaal Colonial government. It was here, deep underground, that a remarkable discovery was made by Frederick Wells, a superintendent at the mine.

When it was first unearthed, the Cullinan Diamond weighed an astonishing 3,106 carats in its rough form, making it the largest rough diamond ever found. Its sheer size was so extraordinary that it was initially mistaken for a piece of glass or a large crystal by the mine workers.

However, upon closer inspection, it became clear that this was no ordinary gemstone. The Cullinan Diamond was a Type IIa diamond, a rare and highly coveted variety that exhibits exceptional optical transparency and chemical purity. Only about 2% of all diamonds belong to this category, making the Cullinan Diamond an exceptionally rare and valuable find.

In addition to its remarkable size and rarity, the Cullinan Diamond also possessed a unique crystal structure and exceptional clarity. It was a D-color diamond, the highest grade on the color scale, indicating its complete lack of color and exceptional purity. The diamond was also classified as a flawless gem, with no visible inclusions or blemishes, further adding to its value and desirability.

After its discovery, the Cullinan Diamond was transported to Amsterdam, where it underwent a painstaking cutting and polishing process by the renowned Asscher brothers. The cutting process was a monumental task, as the diamond was too large for the existing equipment and required the development of specialized tools and techniques.

The result of this meticulous process was a collection of polished gems, the two largest being the Cullinan I, or the Great Star of Africa, weighing 530.2 carats, and the Cullinan II, or the Second Star of Africa, weighing 317.4 carats. These stunning gems are now part of the British Crown Jewels, adorning the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross and the Imperial State Crown, respectively.

The Cullinan Diamond's unique features, including its incredible size, exceptional clarity, and rare Type IIa classification, make it a true marvel of nature and a symbol of human ingenuity and craftsmanship. Its discovery in the Premier Mine in South Africa has cemented the country's reputation as a significant source of the world's most coveted and valuable diamonds, while the diamond itself continues to captivate and inspire people around the globe.

What Are the Characteristics That Make the Most Expensive Diamond in the World So Valuable -

The most expensive diamond in the world, the legendary Cullinan Diamond, is a true marvel of nature that possesses a rare combination of characteristics that make it an exceptional and invaluable gemstone. These characteristics not only contribute to its astronomical value but also solidify its place in history as one of the most coveted and celebrated diamonds ever discovered.

Size and Rarity:The Cullinan Diamond stands out for its sheer size and rarity. When it was unearthed in 1905 from the Premier Mine in South Africa, it weighed an astonishing 3,106 carats in its rough form, making it the largest rough diamond ever found. Its massive size alone was enough to capture the world's attention and ignite a frenzy among gemstone enthusiasts and collectors.

Exceptional Quality and Purity:Beyond its remarkable size, the Cullinan Diamond boasts exceptional quality and purity that are unmatched by most other diamonds. It is classified as a Type IIa diamond, a rare and highly coveted variety that accounts for only about 2% of all diamonds. Type IIa diamonds are renowned for their exceptional optical transparency and chemical purity, traits that significantly enhance their brilliance and fire.

Moreover, the Cullinan Diamond is a D-color diamond, the highest grade on the color scale, indicating its complete lack of color and exceptional purity. It is also classified as a flawless gem, with no visible inclusions or blemishes, further adding to its rarity and desirability.

Historic and Cultural Significance:The Cullinan Diamond's value is not solely derived from its physical characteristics but also from its rich historical and cultural significance. Its discovery in 1905 marked a pivotal moment in South Africa's diamond mining industry, cementing the country's reputation as a significant source of the world's most coveted gemstones.

The diamond was initially purchased by the Transvaal Colonial government and presented as a gift to King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, solidifying its status as a symbol of wealth, power, and prestige. Today, the two largest polished gems from the Cullinan Diamond – the Cullinan I and the Cullinan II – are part of the British Crown Jewels, adorning the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross and the Imperial State Crown, respectively.

Unparalleled Craftsmanship:The Cullinan Diamond's value is also a testament to the incredible craftsmanship and skill required to transform a rough diamond into a polished masterpiece. The cutting and polishing process, undertaken by the renowned Asscher brothers in Amsterdam, was a monumental task that required the development of specialized tools and techniques to handle the diamond's unprecedented size.

The resulting polished gems, particularly the Cullinan I and the Cullinan II, are true works of art, showcasing the expertise and artistry of the diamond cutters who brought out the diamond's full potential and brilliance.

In summary, the Cullinan Diamond's exceptional size, rarity, quality, historical significance, and the unparalleled craftsmanship involved in its transformation make it an invaluable treasure that transcends its monetary value. Its enduring allure and the awe it inspires continue to captivate people worldwide, solidifying its status as the most expensive and coveted diamond in the world.

How Does the Most Expensive Diamond in the World Compare to Other Famous Diamonds in Terms of Size, Quality, and Price -

The Cullinan Diamond, stands in a league of its own when compared to other famous diamonds. Its sheer size, exceptional quality, and astronomical price tag make it a true outlier among the world's most coveted gemstones.

Size:In terms of size, the Cullinan Diamond dwarfs most other famous diamonds. When it was first discovered in 1905 in the Premier Mine in South Africa, it weighed an astonishing 3,106 carats in its rough form, making it the largest rough diamond ever found. After being cut and polished, the Cullinan Diamond yielded several polished gems, with the two largest being the Cullinan I (530.2 carats) and the Cullinan II (317.4 carats).

To put this in perspective, the renowned Koh-i-Noor diamond, one of the most famous diamonds in the world, weighs only 105.6 carats after being recut and polished. The iconic Hope Diamond, another legendary gemstone, weighs a mere 45.52 carats, making the Cullinan I and II significantly larger and more massive.

Quality and Purity:In addition to its unparalleled size, the Cullinan Diamond boasts exceptional quality and purity that are unmatched by most other diamonds. It is classified as a Type IIa diamond, a rare and highly coveted variety that accounts for only about 2% of all diamonds. Type IIa diamonds are renowned for their exceptional optical transparency and chemical purity, traits that significantly enhance their brilliance and fire.

Moreover, the Cullinan Diamond is a D-color diamond, the highest grade on the color scale, indicating its complete lack of color and exceptional purity. It is also classified as a flawless gem, with no visible inclusions or blemishes, further adding to its rarity and desirability.

Price and Value:While the exact monetary value of the Cullinan Diamond is difficult to quantify due to its unique status and historical significance, experts have estimated its worth to be anywhere between $400 million and $2 billion. This staggering price range puts the Cullinan Diamond in a class of its own, surpassing the value of even the most expensive diamonds ever sold at auction.

For comparison, the Pink Star diamond, which holds the record for the most expensive diamond ever sold at auction, fetched a price of $71.2 million in 2017. The Oppenheimer Blue diamond, another highly coveted gemstone, sold for $57.5 million in 2016.

While these diamonds are undoubtedly valuable and hold records in their own right, their prices pale in comparison to the estimated value of the Cullinan Diamond, which is considered a national treasure and a priceless gem.

In summary, the Cullinan Diamond's exceptional size, unparalleled quality, and astronomical value make it the undisputed king among famous diamonds. Its combination of remarkable features and historical significance set it apart from all other gemstones, solidifying its status as the most expensive and coveted diamond in the world.

What Is the Story Behind the Acquisition and Ownership of the Most Expensive Diamond in the World -

 The legendary Cullinan Diamond, has a fascinating story behind its acquisition and ownership that spans over a century and involves multiple parties, from colonial governments to the British monarchy.

Discovery and Initial Acquisition:The Cullinan Diamond's journey began in 1905 when it was discovered by Frederick Wells, a superintendent at the Premier Mine in Cullinan, South Africa. When it was first unearthed, the diamond weighed an astonishing 3,106 carats in its rough form, making it the largest rough diamond ever found.

The diamond's significance and potential value were immediately recognized by the Transvaal Colonial government, which owned the Premier Mine. In an effort to secure this extraordinary gemstone, the government purchased the Cullinan Diamond from the mine for a sum of £150,000 (equivalent to around $23 million today).

A Gift to the British Crown:Shortly after acquiring the Cullinan Diamond, the Transvaal government made the decision to present the diamond as a gift to King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. This strategic move was intended to strengthen ties between the British Empire and its colonies while also ensuring the diamond's safekeeping and proper handling.

In 1907, the diamond was transported to Amsterdam, where it underwent a painstaking cutting and polishing process by the renowned Asscher brothers. The result of this meticulous process was a collection of polished gems, with the two largest being the Cullinan I (530.2 carats) and the Cullinan II (317.4 carats).

Becoming Part of the British Crown Jewels:Upon the completion of the cutting process, the polished gems from the Cullinan Diamond were officially presented to King Edward VII, who accepted them on behalf of the British Crown. This marked the beginning of the diamond's association with the British monarchy and its eventual inclusion in the prestigious Crown Jewels.

The Cullinan I, also known as the Great Star of Africa, was mounted in the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross, one of the most significant pieces in the Crown Jewels. The Cullinan II, or the Second Star of Africa, was set in the Imperial State Crown, another iconic piece of the Crown Jewels.

Ongoing Ownership and Preservation:Since its incorporation into the British Crown Jewels, the Cullinan Diamond has remained in the ownership and custody of the British monarchy. It is a cherished national treasure and a symbol of wealth, power, and prestige, representing the rich history and legacy of the United Kingdom.

To ensure the diamond's preservation and security, strict measures are taken to protect it from theft or damage. The Crown Jewels, including the Cullinan Diamond, are kept under heavy guard at the Tower of London and are only worn by the reigning monarch on specific ceremonial occasions.

The story of the Cullinan Diamond's acquisition and ownership is a testament to its significance and value. From its humble beginnings in a South African mine to its prestigious position in the British Crown Jewels, the diamond has captivated the world and continues to be a source of fascination and awe for generations to come.

How Was the Most Expensive Diamond in the World Cut and Polished, and What Challenges Did This Process Involve -

The cutting and polishing of the most expensive diamond in the world, the legendary Cullinan Diamond, was a monumental task that pushed the boundaries of human ingenuity and craftsmanship. This extraordinary gemstone, weighing an astonishing 3,106 carats in its rough form, presented unique challenges that required the development of specialized tools and techniques.

The Cutting Process:After its discovery in 1905 at the Premier Mine in South Africa, the Cullinan Diamond was transported to Amsterdam, where it was entrusted to the renowned Asscher brothers, master diamond cutters renowned for their exceptional skill and expertise.

The first challenge faced by the Asscher brothers was the sheer size of the diamond. The Cullinan Diamond was too large for the existing cutting equipment, and its massive weight made it difficult to handle and manipulate. To overcome this obstacle, the Asscher brothers had to design and construct specialized tools and machinery capable of handling such a massive gemstone.

After careful planning and consideration, the decision was made to cleave the Cullinan Diamond into smaller pieces to facilitate the cutting process. This was a risky endeavor, as any mistake could result in irreparable damage to the diamond and a significant loss of its value.

On February 10, 1908, the first cleavage was attempted, and the Cullinan Diamond was successfully split into two main pieces, weighing 1,977 carats and 1,040 carats, respectively. Over the next several months, these pieces were further cleaved and cut, eventually yielding a total of nine major polished gems, with the two largest being the Cullinan I and the Cullinan II.

The Polishing Process:Once the cutting process was complete, the polished gems from the Cullinan Diamond underwent a meticulous polishing process to enhance their brilliance and fire. This process involved skillfully grinding and polishing the diamonds to reveal their maximum potential and luster.

The polishing of such large and valuable diamonds required patience, precision, and a deep understanding of the gemstone's unique properties. The Asscher brothers employed a team of skilled artisans who worked tirelessly to bring out the full beauty of these exceptional gems.

Challenges and Risks:Throughout the cutting and polishing process, the Asscher brothers faced numerous challenges and risks. The sheer size and value of the Cullinan Diamond meant that any mistake could result in catastrophic losses. Additionally, the diamond's hardness and brittleness made it susceptible to chipping or cracking during the cutting and polishing stages.

To mitigate these risks, the Asscher brothers employed strict safety measures and worked with the utmost care and precision. They also had to navigate the immense pressure and scrutiny that accompanied such a high-profile and historically significant project.

The successful cutting and polishing of the Cullinan Diamond was a triumph of human skill and perseverance. The resulting polished gems, particularly the Cullinan I and the Cullinan II, are a testament to the extraordinary craftsmanship and expertise of the Asscher brothers and their team of artisans. Their ability to transform a rough diamond into a polished masterpiece solidified their legacy as true masters of their craft and contributed to the enduring allure and value of the most expensive diamond in the world.

What Are the Security Measures Taken to Protect the Most Expensive Diamond in the World, and Has It Ever Been Stolen or Lost -

The expensive Cullinan Diamond, is a priceless gemstone of immense historical and cultural significance. Given its extraordinary value and iconic status, stringent security measures have been implemented to protect it from theft, damage, or loss.

Security at the Tower of London:The Cullinan Diamond, along with the rest of the British Crown Jewels, is housed at the Jewel House in the Tower of London. This iconic fortress, with its thick walls and centuries-old defensive architecture, provides a formidable first line of defense against potential threats.

Access to the Jewel House is strictly controlled, with multiple layers of security measures in place. Visitors are subjected to rigorous screening and are required to pass through airport-style security checkpoints before being allowed entry.

Once inside the Jewel House, the Crown Jewels, including the Cullinan Diamond, are housed in reinforced glass cases and display cabinets designed to withstand various types of attacks, including explosions and projectiles.

Armed Guards and Surveillance:In addition to the physical barriers and security checkpoints, the Cullinan Diamond and the Crown Jewels are protected by a team of highly trained and armed guards who patrol the premises around the clock. These guards are equipped with the latest security technologies and are trained to respond swiftly and effectively to any potential threats.

Sophisticated surveillance systems, including closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and motion detectors, are also in place to monitor the Jewel House and its surroundings. These systems are continuously monitored by security personnel, ensuring that any suspicious activity is immediately detected and addressed.

Strict Handling Protocols:When the Crown Jewels, including the Cullinan Diamond, are transported or handled for special occasions, such as coronations or state events, strict protocols are followed to ensure their safety and security.

These protocols involve meticulous planning, specialized transportation vehicles, and a team of highly trained security personnel who escort the jewels at all times. The handling of the Cullinan Diamond and other priceless gems is typically carried out under the watchful eye of multiple security professionals and experts.

Theft or Loss Incidents:Despite the stringent security measures in place, the Cullinan Diamond has not been immune to theft attempts and incidents throughout its storied history.

In 1967, a daring heist attempt was made by a group of individuals who tried to steal the Crown Jewels, including the Cullinan Diamond, from the Tower of London. While the thieves managed to gain entry to the Jewel House, they were ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts and were apprehended by the authorities.

There have also been unconfirmed reports of smaller fragments or chips of the Cullinan Diamond being lost or stolen over the years, although the main polished gems, the Cullinan I and the Cullinan II, have remained intact and securely housed within the Crown Jewels.

The security measures surrounding the Cullinan Diamond are a testament to its immense value and significance. While no security system is entirely foolproof, the extensive precautions taken by the British authorities reflect their commitment to protecting this priceless national treasure for generations to come.

What Is the Cultural and Historical Significance of the Most Expensive Diamond in the World, and How Has It Been Portrayed in Popular Culture -

The most expensive Cullinan Diamond, is more than just a precious gemstone – it is a symbol of cultural and historical significance that has captivated the collective imagination of people around the globe. Its journey from the depths of a South African mine to the pinnacle of the British Crown Jewels is a story that transcends mere monetary value and speaks to the enduring allure of rare and beautiful objects.

Cultural Significance:The Cullinan Diamond holds immense cultural significance, particularly in South Africa, where it was discovered in 1905. Its unearthing marked a pivotal moment in the country's diamond mining industry and cemented its reputation as a significant source of the world's most coveted gemstones.

For the people of South Africa, the Cullinan Diamond represents a source of national pride and a tangible connection to their rich geological heritage. It is a symbol of the country's natural wealth and a reminder of the ingenuity and perseverance of those who dedicated their lives to extracting these precious resources from the earth.

Historical Significance:The Cullinan Diamond's historical significance is inextricably linked to its association with the British monarchy and its inclusion in the prestigious Crown Jewels. When the diamond was presented as a gift to King Edward VII in 1907, it marked a significant moment in the relationship between the British Empire and its colonies.

Today, the Cullinan Diamond, specifically the Cullinan I and the Cullinan II, adorns the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross and the Imperial State Crown, respectively. These iconic pieces of the Crown Jewels are not only symbols of royal power and authority but also tangible links to the nation's rich history and legacy.

Popular Culture:The Cullinan Diamond's fame and allure have transcended the realms of gemology and royalty, making it a subject of fascination in popular culture. From novels and films to television shows and artwork, the diamond has been depicted and celebrated in various forms of media.

One of the most notable portrayals of the Cullinan Diamond in popular culture is in the 2006 film "The Queen," starring Helen Mirren. In a pivotal scene, Queen Elizabeth II is shown admiring the diamond as she contemplates her role and responsibilities as the monarch.

The diamond has also been featured in numerous works of fiction, often serving as a central plot device or a coveted prize for characters driven by greed or ambition. Its allure and value have inspired countless stories and narratives, further solidifying its status as a cultural icon.

Museums and exhibitions around the world have also showcased replicas and models of the Cullinan Diamond, allowing visitors to marvel at its exceptional size and beauty without the need to view the actual gemstone.

In summary, the Cullinan Diamond is not merely the most expensive diamond in the world – it is a symbol of cultural pride, historical significance, and enduring fascination. Its story has transcended borders and generations, captivating the hearts and minds of people from all walks of life and cementing its place as a true icon of human achievement and natural wonder.