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Famous Diamonds of the World

The cullinan diamond was dug out from the ground by a native miner in South Africa's Transvaal Premier Mine in 1905. Weighing 3,106 carats in the rough, this colourless stone is regarded today as one of the greatest diamond discoveries of all time. The Transvall government purchased it and named it after Sir Thomas Cullinan, who had discovered the mine three years earlier. They presented the stone to King Edward 5 in 1907, after which it was brocken up into nine large stones and a hundred smaller ones. The pear-shaped Cullinan-1 piece of 530.2 carats is the largest cut diamond in the world and is presently set into the head of the English sceptre. The Cullinan 2, often referred to as the Star of Africa weighs 317 -carats and is in the Imperial State Crown.

The Centenary diamond weighed 599 carats in the rough and was found in 1988. Under instructions from the De Beers Company, one of the world's most renowned stone cutters, Tolkowsky cut it in the then new brilliant style to a perfectly coloured gem of 273 carats. This largest diamond in the world was presented to Queen Elizabeth 2 to become part of the British Crown Jewels.

The Regent Diamond was found in 1699 in one of the mines on the Krishna River in southern India. William Pitt, Governor of Madras at Fort St.George in Madras, bought the 410-carat stone for 20,400 and brought it to England in 1701. It was then cut and sold to the Duke of Orleans, then Regent of France. Marie Antoinette was seen wearing it, but during the France Revolution it disappeared; later it was located later in a hole in a Paris loft. The French government pawned it once to raise money from a German banker and again to guarantee a loan from Dutch bankers. Napoleon Bonaparte had it set in the hilt of the sword he carried when he was proclaimed Emperor of France, It is now in the Louvre museum in Paris.

The Darya-i-Nur is a flawless, transparent pink stone, of weight between 175 and 195 carats. Nadir Shah captured it along with the Kohinoor when the attacked Delhi in 1739 and was last seen when the Shah Pahlevi of Iran wore it for his coronation in 1967. It is the largest and most remarkable gem in the State Jewels of Iran. Set in a gold frame with other diamonds, it is topped by a crown bearing lions with ruby eyes, holding scimitars.

The Orloff is the largest diamond of the Russian collection. This stone of 195 carats weight is of an almost hemipherical rosette shape and is said to have been stolen from the Srirangam temple near Tiruchirapalli, India. It finally arrived in Amesterdam where the Prince Orloffbought it to give the Empress Catherine 2 of Russia.

The Moon of the Mountains, a diamond of 120 carats, once adorned the throne of Nadir Shah. After his assassination, it was stolen by an Afghan soldier. It finally ended up in the collection of the Russian government.

The hope diamond was also found in the Kollur mines. In 1642, Tavernier seems to have bought it before selling it to Louis 14 in 1668. It is possible that originally it was a beautiful violet blue diamond called the Tavernier, of a mass of 112.2 carats. In 1673, Sieur Pitau, the court jeweler, cut it to a stone of 67.13 carats. Louis 15, in 1749 then had it cut to an oval pice of 45.22 carats. It disappeared for several years after the French Revolution, but reappeared in America when it was bought by Henry Philip Hope, after whom it is named. After Henry Hope died, the diamond passed throught several owners till Evelyn Walsh McLean bought the diamond in 1911. On her death in 1947, Harry Winston, the jeweller bought it and presented it to the Smithsonian Institution where it can be seen today. The Hope diamond known as the most valuable stone in the world.

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