As pricey as diamonds are today, many stones hold the record for the highest value. And these gems feature staggering weights, impressive cuts, and rare colors rarely found in history. With these numerous factors highlighted, one may wonder if there’s such a title as the most expensive diamond in the world. And if you have, you’d be surprised to discover that there is.
But diamonds are valued based on numerous factors, making them the most expensive gems to date. Here, we’ll discuss what makes diamonds so valuable and determine their worth. Afterward, we’ll scroll through a countdown list featuring what history considers the most expensive diamonds in the world.
Diamonds- Why They’re So Expensive
Different factors have caused diamonds to rise as the most expensive crystals globally. And here, we’ll explore the numerous reasons these stones feature a hefty price tag.
A High-Class History
For centuries, diamonds have been associated with wealth and power, having been considered flawless crystals of incredible hardness. And in their early years, the stones were quite rare, making those found hugely demanded by nobility and royalty. But even after more mines were discovered, this high-class status remained, with gem-quality diamonds still commanding a significant price on the market due to this prestigious history.
Expensive Mining and Production
Because diamonds were formed deep in the earth billions of years before man, their mining and processing commanded capital. As more sites were discovered, sophisticated machinery was bought to excavate the ores, and many people were hired for the workforce. Regardless, the workload it takes to produce one carat of a gem-quality diamond is too extensive that it’s included in its cost price. Even the processes of sorting and cutting diamonds are tasking, excruciatingly long, and require extreme expertise to minimize loss. And though diamonds can be grown in labs today, the process requires replicating its natural formation process, which demands expensive production.
What Determines A Diamond’s Worth?
Numerous diamonds circulate the world, but not all are of the same quality. And this difference sets the regularly-priced stones from the high-cost gems of jewelry quality. And two factors determine which diamonds will rake in the highest bucks- their grading and rarity.
1. Diamond Grading- The 4C’s
Diamonds are graded using their four most prominent features, cut, clarity, color, and carat. And each factor features a grade scale that rates the stone from high to low. As such, diamonds with high ratings on each of these grading systems will command a hefty price, while those of lower grades won’t be as pricey.
2. Rarity In Features
Rarity boosts a diamond’s worth in terms of its attributes listed in the 4C’s. As stated, diamonds are ranked based on how their quality performs on the grading system when examined. But certain attributes are considered rare and can spike the diamond’s price tenfold when found. We’ll list some of these properties below, using the four C’s;
Cut- Some cut grades extend beyond the traditional, thus causing the stone to garner much attention and value. The Tiffany diamond, for instance, features an unusual cut grade which increases its total facets to 90- 28 more than the traditional number!
Clarity- Diamond clarity is graded from Flawless to Internally Flawless, meaning highest and lowest clarity. However, finding a natural gem of Flawless clarity is extremely rare, and such stones are considered extremely high value.
Color- Diamonds mostly occur as colorless crystals, so most stones found are transparent. As such, colored diamonds are very hard to find, with history featuring some of the priciest diamonds as stones of different hues. Some rarest gems feature pink, blue, yellow, or red shades and command a staggering price.
Carat- Most gem-quality diamonds mined occur around 2 grams, roughly less than 10 carats. The common assumption is that diamonds can’t be regularly found at weights beyond such levels. And since the weight reduces after the rough stone is cut and polished, discovering a real gem-quality raw diamond of, say, 100 carats means a great payday since you’ll get more yield from the cutting.
The Most Valuable Diamonds In The World
The value of diamonds has been proven time and again by purchasing some incredibly priced pieces. And many stones have been auctioned or appraised to provide worth so massive that they shape the course of fashion and gem history. To emphasize how impressive a diamond’s price can be, let’s look at this countdown list of some of the most expensive diamonds ever discovered or sold.
The Koh-i-Noor (Priceless)
This diamond’s name is of Persian origin and translates to ‘Mountain of Light,’ Its discovery is speculated around the 1300s. Then, it was found in the Indian mines of Golconda at a weight of 105.6 carats, which earned it the largest diamond circulated until 1852. Prince Albert cut the diamond in that year, reducing it to 86 carats and improving its sparkle and brilliance.
Like the Hope Diamond, the Koh-i-Noor Diamond shares a mythical cursed past, as speculations claimed the stone brought doom to its buyers. But the oval-shaped diamond would later be possessed by Britain in 1848 and own the stone till date as part of the Queen Mother’s Crown. The Koh-i-Noor’s rich history and ancient origin earned it a priceless status, having been the oldest and most valuable diamond in history.
The Sancy Diamond (Priceless)
This pale-yellow stone is one of the first diamonds to garner a reputation in Europe, starting from its first ownership in 1570. And it has passed through numerous prestigious buyers, including Charles the Bold, Manuel I of Portugal, Duke of Burgundy, Nicolas de Harley, King James I and II, King Charles I and II, and Loius XIV France. But it earned its name during its ownership by Seigneur de Sancy.
Many studies suggest the Sancy diamond originates from the Indian Golconda mines since these were the main sources at the time before the Kimberly and American mines. And the stone had vanished from history numerous times since the French Revolution but was finally discovered and sold to the Louvre for $1 million in 1978. Today, however, it resides in the Apollo Gallery as one of the unestimated diamonds in history and shares a tenancy with the Regent and the Hortensia.
The Cullinan Diamond ($400 million)
The Cullinan diamond is another stone that’s popular because of its price. The stone was found in the Premier No. 2 mine in the South African region of Cullinan at a staggering weight of 2,106.75 carats! This indicated that the stone is undoubtedly the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever discovered. And it has birthed nine stones, with the largest being the Cullinan I (the Great Star of Africa), and all adorn the Crown Jewels of the U.K.
At 545.67, the Cullinan I held the record of the largest diamond until 1985 when it was dethroned by the 545.67-carat Golden Jubilee of the same mine. And to date, it remains the largest clear-cut diamond ever discovered.
The Hope Diamond ($350 million)
The Hope Diamond is rich in recorded history and myth and is a household name to gem enthusiasts. The gem owes its intense blue shade to the traces of boron compounds in its crystals and displays a red fluorescence when observed under U.V. light. And its parent stone was found in the Kollur mines of India’s Andhra Pradesh in the 1600s. But the stone earned its name after it was purchased by the Hope banking family sometime in 1839.
After Tavernier first brought it to Paris, the Hope diamond has gone through at least 22 owners. And throughout its history, it has been haunted by a mythical curse fueled by the belief that the diamond brought bad luck to its former owners. Regardless of these claims, the diamond sits in the Smithsonian Museum to date, thanks to an acquisition in 1958. And the so-called cursed blue diamond is insured at a whopping $250 million!
De Beers Centenary Diamond ($100 million)
The De Beers Mining Company is known for its ownership of record-setting diamonds, and this stone is a testament to this fact. The 273.85-carat De Beers Centenary Diamond is a Flawless stone with the highest Grad D color rating by the GIA. The stone was found at an original weight of 599 carats- an astounding number for any diamond. And its name was derived when the rough gem was first presented for the 1988 Centennial Celebration of De Beers Consolidated Mines. The cut stone was later unveiled in 1991 to reveal its heart-shaped, brilliant cut, but still holds the record as the third-largest diamond from the Premier Mine.
The Pink Star Diamond ($71.2 million)
According to the GIA, this 59.60-carat gem was previously known as the Steinmetz Pink diamond and carried a Fancy Vivid pink color. It’s also considered the largest known diamond with such a color rating and was discovered in 1999 by the De Beers Mining Company. It took 20 months to cut this stone- an extensive duration borne out of its exceptional quality. And it made its public debut at a 2003 Sotheby’s auction, where it was bought by Hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook Enterprises for its massive price.
The Oppenheimer Blue ($57.5 million)
At 14.62 carats, this massive blue diamond became the largest diamond in an auction. Sir Philip Oppenheimer previously owned the Oppenheimer Blue before it was auctioned in 2016 to become the priciest diamond ever sold until 2017. And the gem features a fancy vivid blue hue with an emerald cut. The Oppenheimer Blue was named after its owner, who ran the De Beers mining company, and was a gift to his wife. And it was set at a pre-sale estimate of 38 to 45 million Swiss francs. According to the GIA, the stone remains among the 1% of blue diamonds of such vivid color.
The Blue Moon Of Josephine Diamond ($48.4 million)
This stone is one of the various diamonds purchased by the billionaire Joseph Lau and named after his daughter, Josephine Lau. The Blue Moon was found in 2014 in a South African mine and was graded almost flawless. It was also considered the largest blue diamond ever to feature the fancy vivid property but was overthrown by Oppenheimer Blue.
This gem was set at a pre-sale estimate of $3 to $5 million but would beat this price to become the highest ever price per carat diamond sold at $4 million per carat. And the 12.03 stone would be named the Blue Moon of Josephine after the billionaire purchased it at the record-setting price in 2015.
The Graff Pink Diamond ($46 million)
This 24.78-carat stone is a Type IIa diamond with a fancy intense vivid pink shade and sits among the top 2% of the entire diamonds worldwide. The renowned Harry Winston previously owned the stone before it was sold in the 1950s to a private collector. It was later auctioned in 2010 at the Sotheby’s auction in Geneva to set it as the costliest single jewel ever sold.
The gem’s pre-sale estimate was $27 to $38 million and was partly due to the 25 repairable flaws identified in its crystal. But it was eventually reduced to 23.88 carats- a move that enhanced its color and earned it an IF grade by the GIA.
The Princie Diamond ($39.3 million)
It’s no surprise that lots of pink diamonds are expensive, as the color is both rare and attractive. And the Princie diamond is a good representative of the best things its kind has to offer. The stone was found over 300 years ago in the famous Golconda mine of India, which is why it’s also referred to as one of the Golconda diamonds. And it weighs 34.65 carats and, when sold in 2013, became the most expensive Golconda diamond ever auctioned.
The 101 ($26.7 million)
The 101 is unique in both its name and reputation, so it’s a feature on our list. Its interesting title is coined from its 101.73 recorded carat weight at the time of sale. And the diamond features a colorless pear shape of incredibly flawless clarity and a D color grade. The stone was sold in 2013 at Christie’s and is considered one of the largest flawless diamonds ever marketed at the auction house.
The Perfect Pink Diamond ($23.17 million)
One of the world’s most famous pink diamonds, the Perfect Pink is one of the 18 pink diamonds of over 10 carats to have ever been found. But it holds its place in history well thanks to its intense pink shade, which is considered the best and probably where its name was coined. The stone weighs 14.23 carats and is considered the only stone of its shade to be of such weight- those close to it are much smaller (maximum of 0.2 carats). It’s also renowned for having no secondary color, unlike most others that display modifiers like orange, grey, or purple. But it contains light inclusions, so the stone is graded as a VV2 clarity.
The Wittelsbach Diamond ($23.4 million)
This gem originates from India and is the only blue diamond from the region on our list. The stone was also a favorite among royalty for centuries and weighed 35.56 carats in its original form. It was previously known then as Der BlaueWittelsbacher and was discovered in the mid-1600s, after which it would become an integral part of the crown jewels of Austria and Bavaria. It was last seen in public in 1921 when Ludwig II of Bavaria was buried, after which the Wittelsbachs owned it in 1951 during the Great Depression.
Lawrence Graff would later buy the gem in 2008 to become the most expensive diamond ever sold in that year. Graff then cut the stone, removing over 4.45 carats, which caused a stir among enthusiasts. But the move paid off, earning the diamond an F1 status. And in 2011, it was purchased by the former emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa, who paid no less than $80 million for the stone. However, it makes our list for once, holding the most expensive diamond title at some point in history.
The Winston Blue Diamond ($23.8 million)
This stone makes our list because it became the largest flawless, vivid blue diamond worldwide at its time of purchase by Harry Winston Inc. in 2014. And its price tag caused a massive stir at the Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewel sale. The gem weighed 13.22 carats and was changed from ‘The Blue’ to Winston Blue by its CEO after it was bought. The Winston Blue Diamond is a type II pear-shaped stone ranked as one of the most flawless diamonds ever sold at Christie’s.
The Sweet Josephine Pink Diamond ($28.5 million)
The Sweet Josephine is a 16.08 pink diamond sold at Christie’s to billionaire Joseph Lau in 2015. And the buyer is renowned for purchasing flamboyantly priced jewels. But while its heavy price tag earns it a spot as one of the most expensive diamonds ever sold, it also comes with a heartwarming story. Before its purchase, the pink diamond was nameless and earned its title ‘Sweet Josephine’ after the billionaire renamed it after Josephine Lau, his 7-year old daughter.
The Heart Of Eternity ($16 million)
After the Steinmetz group cut, the prominent De Beers Group unveiled this 27.64 carats stone. The gem displays a vivid blue hue and is also cut from the same 777-carat rough diamond that produced the Millennium Star. Its hold on popularity lies in its rare color, large size, and absence of the commonly found gray and black undertones in such diamonds. Plus, such diamonds are even rarer, with only 0.1% making up the diamonds found in their parent source, the Premier Diamond Mine.
Diamonds are pricey for numerous reasons, but some are offered at costs that make history. And what’s more, is that these stones increase in value as the market demand increases. Diamonds remain among the top jewels of immeasurable value and extreme financial resilience. So, when next you come across a pricey diamond ring, take a step back to revere its historical significance to the world’s market.