The word diamond comes from the Greek word “adamas,” which roughly translates to “I tame,” “I subdue” or “unconquerable” The name refers to the hardness of a diamond, which has a mohs scale rating of 10, making it tougher than any other gem. As far as we know the earliest diamonds were found around 4th century BC in India. Most of these diamonds were transported along a network of trade routes that connected China and India, the route commonly known as the silk road. During this time diamonds were valued for their brilliance and hardness, as well as their ability to refract light, and cut metal. Diamonds were used as cutting tools as well as adornments. It was believed that a diamond could ward off evil so it was often used as a talisman during battle. During the Dark Ages many also believed that diamonds could cure illness and heal wounds when ingested, so it was often used a medical aid.
Platinum engagement ring with one 2.18ct L-I1 4-prong set round diamond and open floral filigree detail. Size 6.5 but sizable, priced at $14,400.
It wasn’t until the 13th century that we started seeing diamonds used in European jewelry and regalia as accent pieces alongside pearls and gold. During this time, King Louis IX of France actually established a law reserving diamonds for the king, increasing the rarity and value of the gem. By the 16th century diamonds became larger and more prominent, in response to the development of diamond faceting, which enhances their brilliance and fire. By the 17th century diamonds were seen among the greater European aristocracy as well as occasionally, by the wealthy merchant class. Two things happened at the end of the 19th century that helped change the role of diamonds for centuries to come. The first being in the 1870s when rich diamond deposits were discovered in South Africa. This event changed diamonds from rare to available to anyone who could afford them. The second event was in 1887, when the French crown jewels were consumed by newly wealthy capitalist, mostly here in the United States. This was a time in which Americans taste for the finer things was burgeoning.
Platinum engagement ring with one 1.22ct I-VVS2 4-prong set princess cut diamond. Size 6 but sizable, priced at $12,000.
Like coal, diamonds are composed of carbon. When carbon is subjected to the extremely high temperatures found at the earth’s lithosphere, diamonds are formed. This occurs approximately 90-190 miles below the earth’s surface. Diamond-bearing rocks get carried up from the mantle to the earth’s surface by deep-origin volcanic eruptions, out of these eruptions comes magma. The diamonds are then carried by the magma through volcanic pipes, all over the world. Many diamonds are found in alluvial deposits, including deposits along existing or ancient shorelines. There have even been some rare cases where diamonds have been found in glacial deposits.
18k white gold flower key pendant with six 4-prong set round diamonds, one 6-prong set round blue sapphire, and six 4-prong set baguette diamonds. 16″ 14k white gold chain included.
Now that the history/science lesson is over, let’s talk about some of our favorite famous diamonds.
The Kohinoor Diamond
First up is the oldest and most famous diamond in the world, the Kohinoor. Kohinoor, meaning “Mountain of Light” in Persian, weighs 106 carats and was once the world’s largest diamond. Legends says that the diamond is almost 5000 years old, but the first document actually referring to the Kohinoor dates back to 1526 when the Indian conqueror Babur had it in his possession. He mentioned that the diamond was owned by the Raja of Gwalior in the 13th century. The diamond belonged to various Indian and Persian rulers who fought bitter battles throughout history. The diamond didn’t find its forever home until 1849 when the Brits came across the gem after conquering Punjab. At the time, never been cut, the Kohinoor was 186 carats. In 1851 the diamond was mounted on the Royal Crown, along with 2000 other diamonds. Today the diamond can be found on display in the Tower of London, along with the other Crown Jewels. The exact value of the Kohinoor is unknown but the total value of all the Crown Jewels is said to be between 10 and 12 billion dollars.
Left: Royal Crown with Kohinoor diamond in center. Right: unset Kohinoor diamond.
The Taylor-Burton Diamond
The Taylor-Burton diamond, also known as the Cartier diamond, got it’s name after it was purchased for Elizabeth Taylor by her then husband Richard Burton, from Cartier. The famous gem started off as a rough stone weighing an astonishing 241 carats. By the time it reached Elizabeth Taylor it had been re-cut, by Harry Winston, into a pear-shaped diamond that weighed 69.42 carats. The original owner, Harriet Annenberg Ames, sister to billionaire publisher Walter Annenberg, purchased the diamond in 1967. She had the diamond set into a platinum band, but soon realized that the diamond was way too big to safely walk around with in New York City. Rather than keeping the diamond locked up in a safe, she decided to sell it. The stone was then put up for auction in October of 1969. Elizabeth Taylor had seen the diamond before it went to auction and knew she had to have it.
Unset Taylor-Burton/Cartier diamond.
Despite her husband, Richard Burton’s efforts, the diamond was sold to Robert Kenmore of Kenmore Corporation, parent company of Cartier for $1,050,000; making it the first diamond ever to be sold for 1 million. At that time, the highest record selling diamond was only sold for $305,000. Making the Taylor-Burton diamond the most expensive diamond of its time. Burton was livid, and insisted that Cartier sell him the stone. 24 hours later his wish was granted and the diamond was sold to him for 1.1 million. Cartier agreed to sell the diamond on one condition, that they be allowed to put the diamond on display in their New York store as well as their Chicago store for a short period of time. Approximately 6000 people a day showed up and waited in line to see the diamond, after Cartier took out a large advertisement.
Crowd gathering in Manhattan to get a glimpse of the Cartier diamond in 1969.
After a short period of time the diamond was brought to Elizabeth Taylor, who then realized the diamond was too big for a ring, and had it set on a necklace instead. The necklace was positioned perfectly to cover up a scar that Taylor received after an emergency tracheotomy procedure. The diamond remained in Taylor’s position until her second divorce from Richard Burton, yes they were married twice, in 1978. The diamond was sold to a New York jeweler, named Henry Lambert for an estimated $5 million. Part of the sales proceeds went towards the building of a new hospital in Botswana. In 1979 the diamond was sold again, this time to jeweler named Robert Mouawad, he is still the current owner. The diamond is currently valued at 18.9 million dollars.
Late actress Elizabeth Taylor with the Cartier diamond set in a custom made diamond necklace.
The Tiffany Yellow Diamond
The world famous Tiffany Yellow Diamond is the second largest canary yellow diamond in the world, currently weighing 128 carats, but originally weighing 287.42 carats. The yellow diamond has been owned by Tiffany & Co. since 1877. Its origins are slightly unknown, but it is believed to have been discovered in either 1877 or 1878 in South Africa. The cushion-cut diamond measures 28.25 X 27 X 22.2 millimeters and features an unusual number of facets, 48 on the pavilion and 40 on the three-stepped crown, as well as table facets and an arrangement of facets that radiate out from the diamond’s culet in a star shape. The brilliant yellow diamond has been on display at the Tiffany & Co. flagship store, in Manhattan, for over 70 years.
1995 “Bird on a Rock” brooch designed by Jean Schlumberger
In 2012, to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Tiffany’s, the yellow diamond was reset in a diamond-encrusted necklace. The necklace took over a year to make and features 20 Lucida diamonds and 58 brilliant cut diamonds among its 481 stones. The necklace includes over 100 carats of diamonds, in addition to the yellow diamond. Would you believe this gorgeous diamond has only been worn 3 times? The first time being by Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse in 1957, at the Tiffany Ball, hosted here in Rhode Island, in Newport. The second, and arguably the most famous wearer of this diamond, was the Tiffany queen herself, Audrey Hepburn. She wore the necklace in a photoshoot to promote the classic 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Last but certainly not least is Lady Gaga, she wore the diamond earlier this year at the 91st annual Academy Awards. In 1983 the diamond was valued at $12 million.
Audrey Hepburn in 1961 with Yellow Diamond collar necklace.
Lady Gaga at 91st annual Academy Awards with the famous yellow diamond in its current setting.
Scroll down to view more of our favorite pieces featuring diamonds, available for purchase.
Platinum 2-piece wedding set. Engagement ring with one 1.39ct L-VVS2 4-prong set diamond with floral filigree and engraved millegrain detail. Matching curved wedding band with 7 diamonds set in millegrain and engraved filigree detail. Size 5.5 but sizable and priced at $14,900.
14k white gold hoops with prong set diamond halfway around. Priced at $1420.
14k white gold pendant with one 0.75ct F-SI1 pear shaped bezel set diamond with three 0.14ct 4-prong set round diamonds on top, on a 16″ 14k white gold chain. Priced at $5150.
14k yellow gold omega eternity necklace with channel/bar set diamonds. Priced $7450.
Visit our store or our Instagram to view more of our diamond pieces. Pieces can be purchased by phone or instore.