The name diamond is derived from the ancient Greek αδάμας (adámas), “proper”, “unalterable”, “unbreakable”, “untamed”, from ἀ- (a-), “un-” + δαμάω (damáō), “I overpower”, “I tame”. Diamonds are thought to have been first recognized and mined in India, where significant alluvial deposits of the stone could be found many centuries ago along the rivers Penner, Krishna and Godavari. Diamonds have been known in India for at least 3,000 years but most likely 6,000 years.
Diamonds have been treasured as gemstones since their use as religious icons in ancient India. Their usage in engraving tools also dates to early human history. The popularity of diamonds has risen since the 19th century because of increased supply, improved cutting and polishing techniques, growth in the world economy, and innovative and successful advertising campaigns.
In 1772, the French scientist Antoine Lavoisier used a lens to concentrate the rays of the sun on a diamond in an atmosphere of oxygen, and showed that the only product of the combustion was carbon dioxide, proving that diamond is composed of carbon.Later in 1797, the English chemist Smithson Tennant repeated and expanded that experiment. By demonstrating that burning diamond and graphite releases the same amount of gas, he established the chemical equivalence of these substances.
The most familiar uses of diamonds today are as gemstones used for adornment, and as industrial abrasives for cutting hard materials. The dispersion of white light into spectral colors is the primary gemological characteristic of gem diamonds. In the 20th century, experts in gemology developed methods of grading diamonds and other gemstones based on the characteristics most important to their value as a gem. Four characteristics, known informally as the four Cs, are now commonly used as the basic descriptors of diamonds: these are carat (its weight), cut (quality of the cut is graded according to proportions, symmetry and polish), color (how close to white or colorless; for fancy diamonds how intense is its hue), and clarity (how free is it from inclusions). A large, flawless diamond is known as a paragon.
The HOPE DIAMOND
On September 11th, 1792, chaos ruled in the streets of Paris. The French Revolution had begun and the royal family hid away from the rioting crowds. It was on this day, in the midst of mass turmoil and confusion, that the crown jewels vanished. Most precious among them was “The Blue Diamond” or “The French Blue,” a stunning feat of nature and prize of the French crown. It was described as being “of a faire violet” hue, at times appearing deep sapphire blue and in certain light possessing a rosy glow. In addition to its remarkable size (almost 70 carats), this unique coloring rendered the French Blue truly one of a kind. Indeed, only 1 in 100,000 diamonds are colored diamonds, and blue and pink are the most rare among them.
King Louis XIV bought the original diamond, “The Tavernier Diamond”, from Jean-Baptise Tavernier, a prolific explorer and trader of exotic goods. The original diamond was even larger—a stupefying 112 carats. But King Louis XIV had it cut down and set within the Order of the Golden Fleece emblem, in which form it served not as an article of jewelry but rather as a symbol of the king’s supreme power. After that fateful September day, however, the Blue Diamond of France was never seen again. Historians suspect that after being stolen, it was cut again, forming what is now famously known as the Hope Diamond. A close comparison of the Hope Diamond with historical documentation of the faceting, coloring, and dimensions of the French Blue does indeed lend credence to their proposed relation. It is speculated that the Hope Diamond was purchased in the early 19th century by King George IV, who is depicted in an 1822 portrait wearing a magnificent gem greatly resembling the Hope Diamond. In 1839, a London banker named Henry Phillip Hope purchased the rare stone under unknown conditions and gave it the name which it bears today. Hope described the diamond as follows:
“A most magnificent and rare brilliant, of a deep sapphire blue, of the greatest purity, and most beautifully cut; it is of true proportions, not too thick, nor too spread. This matchless gem combines the beautiful colour of the sapphire with the prismatic fire and brilliancy of the diamond, and, on account of its extraordinary colour, size, and other fine qualities, it certainly may be called unique; as we may presume there exists no cabinet, nor any of jewels in the world, which can boast of the possession of so curious and fine a gem as the one we are now describing…”
Evelyn Walsh McLean wearing The HOPE DIAMOND
The Hope Diamond remained within the Hope Family’s possession for the next 63 years before being sold to various jewelers. It curiously never seemed to stay in the same place for very long. In fact over the years, it a reputation for being cursed. The origins of the Tavernier Diamond are unknown, but it is believed that Tavernier brought it back from one of his trips to the diamond mines of India. One legend claims that Tavernier stole the diamond from a Hindu temple, where it resided in the eye of a sacred icon; it follows that this blasphemous offense resulted in a curse upon all who wore or possessed the gem. It is true that misfortune was visited upon many of the bearers of the Hope Diamond. A New York jeweler who owned the gem briefly called it a “hoodoo” diamond, claiming that it brought him bad luck. It then passed into the hands of a Turkish sultan, jeweler Pierre Cartier, and various others before being donated to the Smithsonian Institute in 1958, where it resides to this day.
The rare physical qualities of this gemstone in conjunction with its mysterious and turbulent past render the Hope Diamond the most famous jewel in the world. It now enjoys an era of relative stability, housed within the secure confines of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Here it receives the millions into its regal company, enriching all with a glimpse at one of nature’s most exquisite works of art.
Elizabeth Taylor wearing The Taylor Burton-Diamond
The Taylor–Burton Diamond, a Diamond weighing 68 carats (13.6 g), became notable in 1969 when it was purchased by actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Burton had previously been the underbidder when jeweller Cartier bought the diamond at auction for $1,050,000, setting a record price for a publicly sold jewel. Thousands of people in New York and Chicago queued to see the diamond after its 1969 sale. It was subsequently worn by Taylor at Princess Grace of Monaco’s fortieth birthday, and at the 42 Academy Awards.
The original rough diamond was found in 1966 in the Premier Mine in South Africa, weighing 241 carats (48.2 g). Harry Winston cut it into the shape of pear weighing 69.42 carats (13.884 g).
At the time of sale in 1969, the diamond was set in a platinum ring with two smaller diamonds on either side. After its purchase by Taylor and Burton, Taylor found the diamond too heavy to wear as a ring, and commissioned an $80,000 diamond necklace which included a custom setting for the diamond. The necklace was designed to fit Taylor’s neck allowing the diamond to cover her tracheotomy scar resulting from her bout with near fatal pneumonia in 1961. In 1980, Robert Mouawad, subsequent owner of the Taylor Burton diamond, had it recut to 68.0 carats (13.60 g).
The diamond was originally bought by Harriet Annenberg Ames, the sister of the billionaire publisher Walter Annenberg, in 1967. Annenberg Ames felt unable to wear the diamond in her native New York City, and decided to sell the stone. She later said that “I found myself positively cringing and keeping my gloves on for fear it would be seen. … It sat in a bank vault for years. It seemed foolish to keep it if one could not use it. As things are in New York one could not possibly wear it publicly”.
Elizabeh Taylor & Richard Burton
Elizabeth shows off her 33 Carat Taylor Diamond
Not The 68 Carat Taylor-Burton Diamond
It was announced that the auction would take place on 23 October 1969, with the diamond listed as lot 133, at Parke-Bernet in New York City. The diamond was flown to Gstaad in Switzerland so that the actress Elizabeth Taylor could see it, and flown back to the United States for the auction. Taylor’s husband, the actor Richard Burton, had set a maximum bid of $1 million for the diamond, with his lawyer, Aaron Frosch, bidding on the telephone from London, and Al Yugler of the jewellers Frank Pollock and Sons, bidding in the room for Burton.
The auction began at $200,000 with everyone in the room shouting “Yes!” when the amount was announced, but by $500,000 only nine people remained in the auction. The sale proceeded in increments of $10,000 after $500,000, and only two people remained at $650,000. At $1 million, Yugler, who was bidding for Taylor and Burton, dropped out of the auction, which ended shortly after. It was unsure in the crowded room as to who the winner was, but it was later revealed to be Robert Kenmore, from the Kenmore Corporation, the parent company of the jewellers Cartier.
Underbidders in the sale included the jeweller Harry Winston, the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, and the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, who had dropped out of the auction at $700,000. The final price was $1,050,000, which was a new record for a public auction of a jewel. The previous record price for a diamond was $305,000 which had been set in 1957.
A proviso of the sale stipulated that the diamond could be named by the buyer, and it was subsequently named the “Cartier Diamond”.
Burton and Taylor had been in England at the time of the auction, staying at The Bell Inn in Aston Clinton in Buckinghamshire, where they were visiting Ifor Jenkins, Burton’s brother. Burton’s lawyer, Jim Benton, called him at the Bell Inn after the auction to tell him that he had been outbid. Burton later wrote of his reaction in his diary, writing that:
“I turned into a raving maniac and insisted that he get Aaron on the phone as soon as possible. Elizabeth was as sweet as only she could be and protested that it didn’t matter, that she didn’t mind if she didn’t have it, that there was much more in life than baubles, that she would manage with what she had. The inference was that she would make do. But not me! … I screamed at Aaron that bugger Cartiers, I was going to get that diamond if it cost me my life or 2 million dollars whichever was the greater. For 24 hours the agony persisted and in the end I won. I got the bloody thing”.
Burton had spent the day after the auction by the payphone in the Bell Inn, after having instructed Frosch to buy the diamond from Cartier regardless of the price. The diamond was confirmed as theirs the next day, at a cost of $1.1 million. Burton also wrote in his diary that “I wanted that diamond because it is incomparably lovely … and it should be on the loveliest woman in the world. I would have had a fit if it went to Jackie Kennedy or Sophia Loren or Mrs. Huntingdon Misfit of Dallas, Texas”. The diamond was subsequently named the “Taylor Burton Diamond”. Burton had previously bought Taylor the 33.19-carat Krupp Diamond in May 1968 at a cost of $307,000.
Burton and Taylor’s jewels and other investments bought by the couple were officially assets of a tax shelter established by the pair, called the Atlantic Corporation.
The 68 Carat
The TAYLOR-BURTON DIAMOND NECKLACE
The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond (formerly known as Krupp Diamond)
The famous Elizabeth Taylor diamond is a 33.19 Carat GIA certified Asscher cut, D color and VS1 clarity. It was bought by Richard Burton for his wife, Elizabeth Taylor in 1968. Originally, it was called the Krupp Diamond because it was owned by the Krupp Family of German industrialists until sold as part of the estate of Vera Krupp, second wife of Alfried Krupp. Burton bought the diamond in an auction in New York for $307,000 and given it to Taylor while they were aboard Kalizma in London.
After Taylor’s death in 2011, the diamond was renamed to “The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond” and was auctioned at Christie’s by her estate on December 2011 and was sold for a total of $8,818,500 to a South Korean company named E-land.
Elizabeth Taylor’s Diamond Ring
With ELIZABETH TAYLOR DIAMOND
Formely The KRUPP DIAMOND
The AMLFI COAST