‘Flawless 100 carat diamond sells for whopping $22 million!’ This title rocked the online media on a Tuesday night in the spring of 2015.
It’s comforting to know some things never change. Ever since man first discovered how to cut, polish and wear gemstones that shined at him from the depths of the ground, diamonds have ruled an unbreakable reign among rocks.
Nowadays, famous or infamous, rightly pure or corrupted by tragedy, any diamond outweighing 10.8 carats is considered more than your run of the mill stone and offered to wholesale buyers at such exorbitant prices that, most of the time, they remain undisclosed.
How Big is a 100 Carat Diamond?
Earth has been mined almost dry of tens of millions of carats of diamonds- it must have lost some weight in the process, but polished 100 carat diamonds are still a rare sight. Fewer than one hundred of these gemstones have been registered.
Carat is the term used to describe the weight of the gemstone, and we’ve detailed the process in another one of our posts. Although the definition of a carat has changed over time, since 1913 the international standard has meant 200 milligrammes.
These special gems that weigh in at a 100 carat-plus go beyond the generic 4C that describes diamonds. They are graded a 5C- colossal.
Needless to say, the value of a finished diamond is different from the value of a raw 100 carat diamond. In the first case, a diamond’s rating is given by the Gem Institute of America or another specialised body. Surface distortions, blemishes, scars, lack of clarity will affect a diamond’s chances on the market.
Carat weight is not the only decisive factor used in evaluating the gem. The skills and precision of the jeweller, imprinted in the cut of the diamond, along with the clarity and color of the stone may either shape the diamond into a ‘girl’s best friend’ or take its celebrity spark away and sink it into oblivion.
Our next list focuses on dazzling 100 carat diamonds that have made history. Diamonds that have survived the wars, burning passions, political back-stabbings, royal egos and ideological upheavals of men. Diamonds that have survived men.
The Koh-i-Noor Diamond
Dating back to the beginning of the 14thcentury, the 100 carat diamond called Koh-i-Noor entered history as the first of the largest cut diamonds in the world. Mined in the Golconda region of India, an Atlantis of the world’s most highly valued diamonds, the ‘Mountain of Light’ Stone blinded both Indian and Persian rulers with a desire for power and wealth. It turned them against each other in a war where the diamond itself was at stake.
This 100 carat diamond was the most prized spoil of war in the Mughal region until the British East India Company seized control. The stone was passed onto the hands of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who sent it as a gift to Queen Victoria, proclaimed Empress of India.
It finally ended up on display for the benefit of the British public, but what it made up in weight- at the time, the stone had 186 carats, it lacked in clarity and brilliance. By some accounts, it was almost unimpressive.
Prince Albert had the stone cut to a 100 carat diamond, hoping to make it more worthy of the British Crown. It did make the cut, but just barely. The Koh-i-Noor was set into the Crown of the Queens Consort, first to be worn by Queen Alexandra, then Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.
Still owned by the royal family, it is now on display with the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. But the descendants of the old Mughal warrior kings have not forgotten. India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are still lobbying for having the stone returned to them.
The Regent Diamond
To witness the downfall of the diamond-rich Golconda region and see its mines, the same ones that in the 1700s produced the top heavyweight diamonds in the world, depleted into the palaces and museums of the West almost seems like a curse. The Regent diamond speaks plenty of it.
According to legend, a slave discovered the 410-carat rough gem in a diamond mine in 1692, stole it, then hid it in a wound inside his body. Somehow, the man ended up on a vessel where he was murdered by the captain. The diamond carried on the route of blood. A celebrated merchant called Thomas Pitt got wind of the diamond’s existence. He bought it, only to sell it to Philippe II, Duke of Orleans who considered the rock worthy of a king’s crown.
Almost a century later, Louis XVI offered it as a gift to his wife, Marie Antoinette. But the revolution was underway, and while the queen found her death at the blade of the guillotine, the precious stone was set into his sword of Napoleon Bonaparte. And yet, its place had always been on royal heads.
It finally, and to this day, shines on the Greek style Diadem crown for Empress Eugenie and is displayed in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Its original appearance yielded a 140.50 carat cushion-cut diamond, the color of sea foam. White with a hint of blue.
The Tiffany Diamond
When diamonds started being unearthed in South Africa in 1867, they ushered in a new gem boom that caught the world’s attention. Who wasn’t out trying its luck in the Californian gold rush, boarded a ship to the mines of the old continent.
One decade later, the Kimberley mine produced a beautiful 287.42-carat yellow rough, cushion-cut into the 128.54-carat, 82 faceted fancy Tiffany Diamond.
First, consider the color. Given that the majority of the 100 carat diamonds were white by rule, it was observed that almost every diamond from South Africa came out of a yellow hue. Science stepped in to clear the mystery.
Apparently, most yellow colors are related to nitrogen, which can be found in high concentrations in the southern Africa kimberlite.
The Tiffany Diamond had been showed off in expositions all over the world and, to our knowledge, it had only been worn by two women in history. Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse at the 1957 Tiffany Ball, and Audrey Hepburn in 1961. You guessed it, it was for the movie that would turn her into legend, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.
Sotheby’s 100 Carat Diamond
By law of supply and demand, you’d think the market is oversaturated with super sized, super priced stones with no owners to find around.
This is where Sotheby fills an invaluable role. In fact, it would not be an understatement to trace the entire modern history of auctioning colossal diamonds to the New York based broker.
In the summer of 1990, David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of the International Jewellery Division at Sotheby’s and aptly known as the ‘100 carat diamond man’, received a phone call from a dealer who proposed that he presided over the sale of a 100 carat diamond. This set the precedent, and Sotheby soon became synonymous to diamond auctioning.
How Much is a 100 Carat Diamond?
Only five other 100-plus carat diamonds have ever been sold at auction. One example is the 118 carat oval cut gem sold for $30.6 million in Hong Kong, in 2013.
Since then, silence on the market. Until the highly anticipated sale of a flawless emerald-cut stone rocketed the price for value to $22.1 million. And they don’t call it ‘flawless’ for nothing. This 100 carat diamond shines a blindingly white reflection that borders transparency, while revealing no internal imperfections. A diamond among diamonds.
Diamonds preserve their beauty in almost any instance. One could admire them unmounted, or fashionably set in a ring, a stunning pendant or a velvety red crown. Whatever their employment, as long as the colossal 100-carat diamonds make occasional wild appearances on the gem scene, they will always find a buyer.