While all diamonds sparkle beautifully, there are a few famous examples that shine above any others.👑 For one reason or another, these gems draw unlimited fascination from diamond lovers across the globe. From giant sparklers to colorful baubles, these diamonds are sure to dazzle even the most disinterested viewer.
So which diamonds are most famous or largest? And why are they so beloved in the gem community? Here are the top 10 world-famous or largest diamonds and the reasons for their popularity.
Why are these diamonds so famous?
So why are some diamonds so famous while others are not? The answer varies, but typically these gems have certain characteristics that make them rare or beautiful.
For instance, some of the diamonds listed below are the largest in the world. Their carat weight can equal several pounds, and their sparkle tends to be extra vibrant due to the large, expertly cut facets. In truth, an exceptional example of any of the 4Cs may make this list, as any level of flawlessness attracts attention from gem enthusiasts.
For others, their beautiful color may set them apart. High quality yellow, blue, pink, and other colored diamonds are rare to begin with, but larger specimens with few flaws are priceless.
Finally, a diamond may also have an interesting history that draws others to it.🎷 Because unique diamonds are often coveted by the wealthy and powerful as status symbols, these gemstones have long histories of interesting owners. Whatever the story, an intriguing background always increases the value and price of an already famous diamond.
The diamonds listed below have varied stories and qualities that are equally mesmerizing. However, we’ll start with two of the most famous diamonds in recent years.
The Cullinan Diamond: World’s largest diamond
If size matters: the Cullinan Diamond is the largest diamond in the world! Discovered in Pretoria, South Africa in 1905, this diamond weighed 1.33 lbs. It’s the largest rough diamond ever found that was gem-quality, meaning it was in good enough condition to be cut for jewelry use.
Named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine, the stone was discovered by Frederick Wells 18ft below earth’s surface. He described finding the stone as seeing flashes of starlight above his head where the diamond was stuck in the wall. Eventually, the Transvaal Colony government bought the stone and gifted it to King Edward VII, who had the gem cut by Joseph Asscher.
However, you won’t find this magnificent diamond in one piece, as it’s been cut into 9 large diamonds and 100 smaller ones over time. In fact, the stones are a total of 1,055.89 carats altogether! Besides the two largest gems, the remaining diamonds stayed with Asscher in Amsterdam until the South African government bought them and presented them to Queen Mary in 1910.
The most popular piece of the Cullinan Diamond is the Great Star of Africa: a 530-carat gem that happens to be the largest cut fine-quality colorless stone in existence. Its sibling, the Second Star of Africa, is 317 carats and stays with the former in the Tower of London as part of the British crown jewels.
The Great Star of Africa sits in the British Sovereign’s Royal Scepter, and the Second Star of Africa is in the Imperial State Crown. Currently, Queen Elizabeth II owns a large majority of the cut gems as well as some fragments. All of the Cullinan diamonds are of varying quality, based on their cuts and individual inclusions.
The Sewelo Diamond: World’s second-largest diamond
Over 100 years later, the second largest—and largest uncut—diamond would make itself known. In 2019, the Sewelo diamond was found by the Lucara Diamond Corporation in Botswana. This gem is a staggering 1,758 carats and weighs 12.39 oz.
Overall, the stone is about the size of a tennis ball, but it weighs about six times more!
The name “Sewelo” came from a competition designed to name the new diamond. Out of 22,000 submissions, this fitting name was chosen: Sewelo means “rare find” in Setswana.
The Sewelo Diamond is a rare find indeed, as it doesn’t look like many of the other diamonds on this list. Its pitted surface is covered in an opaque black carbon, making it look more like a large black opal. Because of the dark surface, no one is sure whether the stone can be cut into smaller diamonds, but artificial intelligence and other technology may allow its current owner to divide it into unique gems.
Speaking of its current owner, the Sewelo Diamond recently became a headline when Louis Vuitton purchased the stone for an undisclosed amount, mentioning the price was “millions” of dollars. LVMH, the Louis Vuitton parent brand, also recently closed a deal to acquire Tiffany & Co., meaning the retail giant has big plans up its sleeve. It is anticipated that the company will use cutting edge technology to sever the stone and produce multiple, high-priced pieces.Fun FactThe mine where the Sewelo Diamond was found also produced the fourth largest diamond. In 2015, miners found the Lesedi Li Rona stone, coming in at 1,111 carats. It’s a rarity that two stones of such size could come from the same mine!
The Pink Star: The largest Vivid Pink stone
Some diamonds are blessed with intense, beautiful color, and the Pink Star is no exception.
Originally known as the Steinmetz Pink, this rosy stunner is 59.60 carats and is rated as a Fancy Vivid Pink by the GIA. In fact, it’s the largest diamond in the world to have received the Vivid Pink rating!🥂
On top of its magnificent hue, the stone also received an Internally Flawless rating as a Type IIa diamond, making it a very rare find. Type IIa gems make up just 2% of all stones!
Mined in 1999 by De Beers, this unique stone originates from South Africa. The initial rough diamond weighed 132.5 carats before the Pink Star was cut from the stone and revealed to the public in 2003.
Sotheby’s auction house sold the diamond in 2013 and 2017, and it garnered the highest price ever offered for a diamond. It sold for $83.1 million USD in 2013 and again for $71.2 million in 2017, shattering the Graff Pink’s record.
This diamond is now known as the CTF Pink Star, named after the buyer: Chow Tai Fook Enterprises.
The Oppenheimer Blue Diamond: The premier Vivid Blue gem
Arguably the most prized diamond color is blue, as it’s equally rare and stunning. The Oppenheimer Blue—named for past owner and previous De Beers chairman Philip Oppenheimer—is 14.62 carats and was the most expensive diamond ever sold at auction before the Pink Star’s sale.
The GIA rated the Oppenheimer Blue as a Fancy Vivid Blue, and its rectangular shape makes for a unique, large stone cut. Cutting a rectangular diamond requires exceptional clarity and color, as the top facet is so large and will display any imperfections.
However, the depth and evenness of the Blue Oppenheimer’s color are practically flawless despite the bold shape. 📝Blue diamonds also only make up 0.0001% of the world’s diamond population, and only 1% are rated as vivid color! The Blue Oppenheimer’s tone has a deep richness to it, making it incredibly sought after.
The Oppenheimer Blue sold for $51.3 million USD at Sotheby’s, making it the largest fancy vivid blue diamond ever auctioned.
The Tiffany Yellow Diamond: One of the largest yellow diamonds in existence
Some dazzling diamonds are made even more popular based on their owner, and the Tiffany Yellow Diamond is tied to one of the largest names in luxury jewelry.
Discovered in 1878 in South Africa, the original 287.42 carat stone was acquired by Charles Tiffany, the premier New York Jeweler. Tiffany had Frederick Kunz cut the stone, and his craftsmanship shaped the beautiful 128.54-carat gem.
Kunz took a unique approach to cutting the Tiffany Yellow, which is a delicate cushion shape. He used a square antique technique to offer a larger table and more facets, adding additional facets to the classic shape for a total of 90 facets overall. The result was a diamond with unmatched scintillation and eye-catching brilliance that wasn’t easily replicated until a century later!
The original setting of the Tiffany Yellow was designed by Jean Schlumberger. Schlumberger is known for his beautiful yet avant-garde pieces, and Tiffany & Co. still sells many of his beloved designs. Many of his pieces centered around themes of color and nature, and the Tiffany Yellow was a perfect centerpiece to his elegant brooch setting with a diamond bird.🐦
Although the stone is no longer the largest yellow diamond, it’s still a notorious canary gem due to the Tiffany brand and continued celebrity exposure. Since its creation, the Tiffany Yellow has appeared on the necks of four powerful women. Mrs. E. Sheldon Whitehouse, Audrey Hepburn, Lady Gaga, and—soon—Gal Gadot are sisters in wearing this priceless gemstone.
The Hope Diamond: The most famous diamond in the world
Some diamonds capture the imagination of gem lovers simply by their history, and the Hope Diamond has four centuries of stories to tell.😱 This 45.52-carat stunner tells a tale of wealth, theft, and mystery.
While the gem’s discovery date is unknown, many believe it originated from the Kollur Mine in what is now India. It is actually one of the “Golconda Diamonds”, which is a group of stones from what was originally the Golconda Sultanate.
However, the gem entered historic records in 1666, where it was purchased by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. Tavernier then had the gem cut into the French Blue and sold it to King Louis XIV in 1668. It was stolen in 1791 before being recut, where the largest portion of the stone ended up in the collection of a London banking family with the name “Hope” in 1839.
The stone passed through many notable owners until it ended up with Harry Winston in 1949. Winston offered the gem to the Museum of Natural History in 1958, where it remains today.
While the history of the Hope Diamond is what interests people most, the gem itself is truly mesmerizing. The Hope Diamond is a deep, smoky blue color, with a VS1 clarity rating and minor inclusions. Trace amounts of boron within the stone cause the bluish hue, but the diamond actually has a red phosphorescence under UV light.
The Hope Diamond is a Type IIb stone, and its large size has helped scientists across the globe study how diamonds are formed.
The Moussaieff Red Diamond: The largest red diamond
When a diamond is large and rare, its value skyrockets. This is true of the Moussaieff Red Diamond, also known as the “Red Shield”
In 1989, the Moussaieff Red Diamond was discovered in the Abaetezinho River by a Brazilian farmer. The 13.90 carat rough stone was cut down to a 5.11-carat gem by the William Goldberg Diamond Corporation, and it was then purchased by Shlomo Moussaieff around 2001. The diamond currently remains with the London-based family of jewelers, who are a well-respected name among the world’s gem enthusiasts.
Red diamonds are exceptionally rare, and so the Moussaieff Red Diamond is not only the largest red stone but also an unusual hue. The GIA graded the stone as Fancy Red, and its cut is a trillion shape, which is rather unique in itself.
The value of this gem is staggering. Moussaieff paid about $8 million USD when he purchased the stone in 2001. That’s roughly $1.6 million USD per carat, which would be $2.3 million USD per carat today!
The Amsterdam Diamond: A rare, valuable black diamond
When we think of diamonds, we anticipate bright white light with flashes of vibrant color. But, who would imagine a diamond as black as night? That’s exactly what draws people to the Amsterdam Diamond.
Weighing in at a staggering 33.74 carats, the Amsterdam diamond originated from Africa. The first introduction of this gem was in 1973 at D. Drukker & Zn. in Amsterdam. At one time, Amsterdam was a premier cutting destination for diamonds, and so the stone was named after the city where it was first presented.
The Amsterdam Diamond sold for $352,000 USD at Christie’s in 2001, and it garnered the highest price ever for a black diamond at auction.
This gem is a solid black hue, and black diamonds are not meant to be clear like their white counterparts. The diamond is also pear shaped with 145 facets, meaning it sparkles brilliantly despite its opaque color. Gemologists also believe high levels of graphite give the black diamond its dark tone.
Black diamonds are not actually one crystal. Instead, they are made up of thousands of smaller crystals with many inclusions, which turns the stone black. However, the Amsterdam Diamond is the largest single-crystal natural black diamond in existence, making it incredibly rare.
Although black diamonds are typically rather affordable due to low demand, more people are seeking out the stormy gems as unique engagement ring center stones.
The Dresden Green Diamond: The largest green diamond in the world
Although green diamonds may not be everyone’s favorite, the eerie glow of the Dresden Green Diamond is sure to leave most viewers in awe.
Discovered some time before 1722, the Dresden Green Diamond is named after the German city of Dresden. While its true discovery date is unknown, its existence became public knowledge when a newspaper released an article about it that year.
In 1742, Augustus III of Poland acquired the gem, and it became part of a beautiful, diamond-encrusted hat ornament in 1768. The Dresden Green Diamond still sits in that hat ornament today, surrounded by 400 diamonds of all shapes and sizes.
The Dresden Green Diamond’s color is described as “apple green”, and its bright hue is a result of radiation exposure. It’s a Type IIa, the rarest class of diamonds, with a VS1 clarity. The stone is also thought to be internally flawless if it were slightly recut.Fun FactGemologists use the Dresden Green Diamond to compare natural and treated green diamonds in the lab. The goal is to use the diamond to create a test that will help gemologists differentiate between the two types of stones.
The Royal Purple Heart Diamond: The world’s largest Vivid Fancy Purple
A diamond’s shape can also influence its popularity, and the Royal Purple Heart Diamond is certainly one of a kind.
Originating in Russia, the world’s largest purple diamond is 7.34 carats. This gem’s past and present owners are widely unknown, but it was cut by the Julius Klein Diamond Corporation.
Other than that, the only firsthand account of the gem available is that of gemologist Michael Hing, who had the opportunity to examine the stone in 2002. He noted several flaws, such as a thick girdle and heavy diagonal surface graining, but remarked at the lovely purple color.
The GIA classifies the Royal Purple Heart as a Vivid Fancy Purple diamond. Although it has a clarity rating of I1, the well-chosen heart shape perfectly enhances the beauty of the purple gemstone.🤩
The color purple is often associated with royalty, so the name for this stone is very fitting. The purple hue is thought to be a result of hydrogen exposure during the diamond’s formation, and the color can range in intensity from light lilac to a deep, vivid purple.ADVERTISEMENT
All diamonds are lovely
From bright whites to brilliant blues and everything in between, these gemstones are true sparklers that embody all the things people love about diamonds. As diamond cutting technology improves, we’ll see larger and more perfect specimens of diamond that are crafted, making even these historic stones pale in comparison.
While these legendary diamonds are spectacular, it’s important to remember that every diamond is special. No matter which diamond you choose, the gem is lovely and important because YOU believe it is lovely and important. Plus, a diamond is only as beautiful as the care and attention you give it, so make sure you take care of your gemstones!