World’s Most Expensive Diamonds
By Devorah Isenberg , Friday, January 20, 2012
R&B superstar Beyonce Knowles may have the biggest and most expensive diamond engagement ring in the world, but that doesn’t mean she owns the world’s most expensive diamond. The most expensive diamonds in the world are decades or centuries old—many have been passed from estate to estate, from museum to museum for generations of diamond lovers to gawk at. Blue, pink and other fancy colored diamonds are among the rarest diamonds, and so it is not surprising that many of the world’s most valuable diamonds are not D-grade colorless but brightly colored in a rainbow of gorgeous, and pricey, hues.
- One of the most expensive diamonds of all time is the famous Chopard blue diamond. With its 9 carat oval-shaped blue center stone, and enormous diamond side stones, as well as an 18 karat gold band encrusted in smaller diamonds, the Chopard ring is beautiful to look at even if you don’t know its history. Blue diamonds derive their color from developing near boron deposits—they are worth far more than blue sapphires, which are more common and often have deeper blue hues. When the Chopard diamond was most recently up for auction, it sold for a tidy $16.26 million—making it one of the most valuable diamonds in the world.
- Blue is not the only color that makes a diamond worth more than a small island. The Graff pink diamond, a radiant cut stone with a subtle but rosy pink hue, was auctioned from the possession of the Harry Winston diamond company to the Graff estate in 2010. The 24.78 diamond is one of the world’s most expensive diamonds right now, as it fetched $46 million dollars at auction—making it one of the most unique collectible items in the world.
- Some of the world’s most expensive diamonds also have the world’s longest diamond histories. The Wittelsbach-Graff diamond first came on the scene in the seventeenth century, when it was purchased by King Philip IV of Spain for his daughter’s dowry. That daughter, the Infanta Margarita Teresa married Leopold I, who bequeathed the one-of-a-kind diamond to his heirs after her death. The name Wittelsbach was applied to the 35.56 carat blue diamond when the Archduchess of Austria brought it with her to her marriage into the Wittelsbacher royal family of Bavaria in 1722. The diamond passed from one European royal family to another for centuries, acquiring years of legend, lore and accumulated grime and damage until 2008, when its $23.4 million sale to London jeweler Laurence Graff gave it the second part of its name and the title of most expensive diamond in the world. Graff’s decision to have the diamond polished and its color enhanced was met with considerable controversy in the diamond community.
- In 2007, a relatively modest-sized blue diamond of 6.04 carats claimed the world’s most expensive diamond title after it was sold at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong for a record breaking $1.32 million per carat, or a total of $7.98 million. The historic auction lasted only 8 minutes.
- Not all valuable diamonds are blue. The largest Fancy Red diamond the GIA has ever analyzed is also one of the most expensive diamond to pass through that esteemed lab—the Moussaieff Red diamond, cut in an unusual trillion cut, measures 5.11 carats and is said to be worth $7 million.
- The color grade Fancy Vivid Blue has been applied to only a handful of blue diamonds in the history of the GIA, but the Heart of Eternity diamond was one of them. This spectacular diamond is one of the world’s most valuable diamonds, for its incredible size, color and rarity of cut. Although it belongs to the De Beers company, along with several other of the most valuable diamonds in the world, and has never been sold, the 27.64 heart-shaped stone is said to be worth $16 million.
- The Steinmetz Pink, one of the most unique, largest and most valuable diamonds of that hue, weighs 59.6 carats and has been rated a Fancy Vivid Pink by the GIA. The Steinmetz Group, the diamond firm that owns this and several other of the world’s most valuable diamonds, took 20 months to model and cut the stone. It was given a special ceremony when it was finally complete, on May 29, 2003. Its price has been estimated at $25 million.
- One of the world’s most famous diamonds is the Millennium Star, a 203.04 carat D color diamond that is pear-shaped and both internally and externally flawless. The planning for its eventual cutting from its original size of 777 carats to its current shape took over three years—it was first displayed nine years after its original discovery. In November 2000, a group of London thieves attempted to steal the diamond, but the heist was intercepted—since the diamond has never been sold, its market value is unknown.
- Currently, the world’s most expensive diamond is the Centenary Diamond—a 278.85 diamond that was first unveiled in 1991. A D color flawless gem with a modified heart shape, the Centenary was exhibited as a part of the De Beers company’s centennial celebration before being sold to an anonymous buyer in 2008. Although the purchase price was not revealed, it has been discovered that the stone was insured for $100 million.
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