From The Hope Diamond, to The Star of the East, The Taylor-Burton Diamond, to The Wittelsbach Diamond, history has been marked by the discovery of some truly unique gems. Just as Sotheby’s prepares to auction two new jewels, including The Pink Star, a 118.28-carat pink diamond which currently holds the record as the largest ever pink diamond to be certified by the Gemological Institute of America, we take a look at eight of the most famous and the most dizzyingly sized gems in history.
First up comes Harry Winston’s three star diamonds: From top to bottom,the Hope Diamond at 45.52 carats, the Star of the East at 94.80 carats and the McLean diamond, here shown set into a ring. Boasting names that evoke passion, myth and desire, not only have each of these jewels become part of Harry Winston’s famed jewelry collection, they have also all at one time been owned by US mining heiress Evalyn McLean. Over the years, Harry Winston, has given each gem a new setting and sent them around the world, putting them on loan to prestigious museums and allowing international audiences to enjoy their sparkle and shimmer. Just take for example the time the fine jeweler sent Louis XIV’s Hope diamond to the Smithsonian by mail to avoid any chance of armed theft.
Last May, jeweler Harry Winston acquired an incredible pure, pear-cut diamond at auction at Christies’ Geneva. Sized at a rare 101 carats, the gem which has since been dubbed the Winston Legacy, marks the continuation of eight decades of Harry Winston’s exceptional jewelry making history, joining the ranks of such other acquisitions as the Lesothoand the Hope Diamond.
First put on market in December 2008, it didn’t take long for theWittelsbach, a 35.56-carat blue diamond, to capture the attention of the world. While it was acquired by Laurence Graff at a hard-fought Sotheby’s auction for $24.3 million, the diamond’s history crosses many eras, beginning in 1664 when the blue jewel was gifted to Princess Margarita by her father, the King of Spain. As history had it, the gem then found its way into King Ludwig I of Bavaria’s crown, a royal treasure which has now been reconstituted to become a sparkling part of the Smithsonian Institute’s collection.
Richard Burton was certainly not one to allow himself to be held back by convention, and while it is often said that love holds no price, Burton’s love for Elizabeth Taylor was not only worth its weight in gold, but also its size in carats. The result for Burton was the purchase of a 70-carat diamond which Taylor frequently wore as necklace, making the gem somewhat synonymous with the famous star-crossed couple.
On October 7, all eyes will be on Sotheby’s Hong Kong as the latest celebrity jewel, a 118.28-carat diamond discovered in South Africa, will hit the auction block. The only thing to rival the gem’s original 299 carat-size is its value, currently set between $28 and $35 million. As for the winning bid, given the diamond’s pure white color, only the sky seems to be the limit.
As the second gem scheduled to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on October 7, alongside a 118-carat white diamond, The Premier Blue stands at 7.59 carats in size and sparkles with as much stunning rarity as it does sumptuousness.
On November 13, all eyes at Sotheby’s Geneva are sure to be on this 59.60-carat pink diamond, estimated at a record-breaking $60 million. However, aside from its substantial price, the Pink Star has also started to garner plenty of attention thanks to its many truly unique characteristics. “Having spent 35 years in the jewelry business, I’ve been lucky enough to examine some of the world’s most breathtaking diamonds. Without a doubt, The Pink Star has no equal. There isn’t a private collector, royal family or museum that owns a pink diamond of this size, color and quality. If fancy vivid pink diamonds of five carats in size are rare, then you can only imagine the importance of a discovery of a pink gem that stands at 59.60 carats in size. It’s a true natural wonder,” states David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s Switzerland’s Jewelry Division for Europe and the Middle East.