The most famous diamonds in history

The most famous diamonds in history

The diamond, one of the most precious and beautiful stones in the world, has always caused furor and stirred people, so much so that the reputation of this jewel has been stained often due to the desire to possess it and the violence this leads to.

Three of the most famous diamonds in the world, with legends surrounded by disputes, craziness and pain.

Tiffany’s yellow diamond

This extremely famous diamond, with a caratage of 128.54 carats, was discovered in South Africa’s mines in 1877. To this day, it is considered the biggest yellow diamond ever found. At the time, the founder of the jewellery company Tiffany & Co. bought the stone and gave it the value that gives birth to its legend today, the value of exclusivity: only five women in history have worn this magical diamond.

The first one of all was Mary Whitehouse, the granddaughter of the founder of most railways in the USA. Born and raised in a prosperous and well-off family, in a Tiffany’s charity event in 1957, she had the honour of becoming the first of a very limited list of women to wear this jewel.

Not long after, the diamond was seen again, this time on Audrey Hepburn’s neck, the philanthropic and magnificent actress, for the cover of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961.

After half a century in the shadows, it was brought to light once again by Lady Gaga, who wore it to the 2019 Oscars, in which she was awarded the best original song and best actress awards.

The last sightings of this legendary yellow diamond took place in the images of Death on the Nile, the adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel, being Gal Gabot its wearer; and in a publicity campaign for the owner of the jewel’s new collection, in which Beyoncé appears as the last person to wear it ever since.

The cursed jewel: the Hope Diamond

This enormous blue diamond began as one of the countless pieces of jewellery owned by the Indian royalty, because until the discovery of diamond mines in South Africa in the nineteenth century, India was the only place in the world where diamonds had been found.

In the seventeenth century, a French jewellery trader whose surname was Tavernier, got this diamond (whether by buying it or by theft is still unknown) and brought it from India right to the hands of the powerful and narcissistic king of France, Louis XIV, the Sun king. It was passed down in his lineage, passing by his son Louis XV and his grandson Louis XVI. The latter, next to his wife, suffered the terrible destiny of the guillotine, a fate that a lot of people attribute to the Hope's curse (called Blue Tavernier at the time).

The stone dropped out of sight, but Napoleon Bonaparte tried to track it down in order to recuperate it and the “national honour” it symbolized.

Around 1802, the jewel was bought by the British family Hope (which gave it their name). In fact, the pride of owning it was such that one of its members exhibited it in London’s Universal Exposition in 1851. Later, the grandson of the first ever Hope to buy it, sold it to a jewellery, and from there it passed from hand to hand until it reached a Turkish jeweller who sold it to a Parisian one, and returning from his journey, he drowned with the sinking of the ship he was in, tragically in an ocean filled with sharks. This event served as a further justification for the myth that surrounds this piece of jewellery.

The Parisian jeweller sold it to the Cartier brothers. With a certain legend to back it up, the Cartiers seized the opportunity to make up a curse much bigger than the one already granted to it, in order to attract possible clients. The Hope was sold to a New York couple. The wife, Evalyn, did not believe herself worthy of the curse, but in any case brought the necklace to be blessed by a priest. She did not think the myth was real until one of his sons was run over by a car and sadly passed away. The couple got a divorce and fell into a vast hole of countless debts, that is why when Evalyn passed, her jewellery went up for auction, including the Hope.

Nowadays, the Hope can be found in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., USA.

The Koh-i-Noor, the bloody diamond

The legend about its origin dates back to 1304. It is said that two half-gods caught themselves in a fight, one of them wearing a bracelet with the Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of Light). The latter died during the battle and the winner snatched the diamond out of the bracelet. After this, the jewel was passed down peacefully through generations.

However, the documented history begins in 1628, as part of the peacock throne of a Mogol Shah. In 1739, Nader Shah (a Persian monarch) attacked Delhi and took the throne with all its precious stones with him. He ripped the piece out of the throne with his own hands and had it made into a bracelet. This would be the first of many thefts of this diamond by the way of blood.

Nader Shah was more and more delusional and tyrannical, passing laws and campaigns that suffocated his subjects both economically and socially. That is why the shah was assassinated by his own guard. All his successors suffered revolutions for the desire of owning the diamond, a symbol of the highest power, to the point of torturing one of Nader Shah’s grandsons so he would confess where the Mountain of Light was, opening in front of him his grandfather’s casket looking for it.

The Koh-i-Noor suffered a very bloody line of successors, fratricidal and patricidal among them so as to get it. One of them was burnt to death by molten gold over his head, because when they took the jewel from him, they wanted to give him “a crown” in exchange. The violent lineage continued until the arrival of the British.

A series of wars between the British and the Sikhs were unleashed in the East, among which the possession of the diamond was a clear sign of the winner, due to its enormous beauty and the mystical properties it was granted. With the death of their emperor, the Sikh Empire was dissolved and the jewel was taken by the British Crown (as a symbol of colonial superiority). In 1851, it was polished and reduced by petition of Queen Victoria.

The ownership of this diamond is still being reclaimed by many eastern countries, but the British Crown refuses to give it back. Nowadays it resides in the London Tower, but it has not been exposed publicly since the funeral of Isabel Bowes-Lyon in 2002.