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Natural Gemstones




The Koh-I-Noor is a 105.602 carats weighing oval cut diamond. The weight of the rough-diamond is estimated at 600 carats. The stone is set in the Maltese Cross at the front of the crown made for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother with more than two thousand other diamonds. “Koh I Noor” comes from the Persian language and means “Mountain of Light”. It is regarded as one of the most famous diamonds in history. Its origin is in the subcontinent of India and it belonged to various Indian and Persian rulers at different points in history. The diamond was first described in 1304 when it was held by the Rajah of Malwa, India. Later it fell into the hands of the Sultan Baber. During the next two centuries, the diamond was one of the precious jewels of the Mogul Emperors. 1739 Nadir Shah of Persia invaded Dehli, India and pillaged the city to acquire the great diamond but failed. The legend says one of the harem women informed Nadir Shah that the jewel was kept hidden by Mohammed Shah in his turban. Taking advantage of an Oriental custom, Nadir suggested to exchange turbans at the victory celebration. This is a well-known oriental custom signifying the creation of brotherly ties, sincerity and eternal friendship. Mohammed Shah was astonished at his quick-thinking rival but he was hardly in a position to resist such a request. So he accepted. Later that night, when Nadir Shah had gone to his appartement for the night, he unfolded the host's turban and found the diamond. When he set his eyes on this beautiful gem he exclaimed: “Koh-i-noor”, meaning “Mountain of Light.” The famous diamond now had a name. Nadir Shah carried off the Koh-i-noor to Persia in 1739. In 1747 Nadir Shah was murdered and the diamond came into the hands of Ahmad Shah of Afghanistan until it was taken by the Sikh Maharaja (King) of Punjab Ranjit Singh, during a campaign in Afghanistan in 1813. Later Ranjit Singh crowned himself as the ruler of Punjab. On his deathbed in 1839 he willed the Koh-i-noor to a Hindu temple in Orissa. But after his death the British administrators did not execute his will and Ranjit Singh’s successor gave the diamond to Queen Victoria in 1851.

Because of the lack of brilliance in the stone it was decided to re-cut the diamond to increase its brilliance. The Koh-I-Noor was reduced from 186 carats to its present size of 105.602 carats.

In 1936 the diamond was set into the crown of the new Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI. The crown rested atop her coffin in 2002.

The government of India started some question to the British Government for the return of this diamond, claiming legitimate ownership. Until today the gem remains in the United Kingdom.

Mostly the weight of the Koh-I-Noor is published with 108,93 carats. But in 1988 during the maintenance and cleaning of the crown by the Crown Jeweller Mr. Bill Summers the opportunity was taken to remove the diamond. It was weighed in the presences of witnesses on a modern certified electronic balance. The measurements are 36.00 × 31.90 × 13.04 mm.


The Excelsior

The Excelsior which means "higher" This large diamond weighing 995,2 carats was found on the evening of June 30th, 1893 by an African mine worker. He picked it up in a shovel of gravel which he was loading into a truck. The diamond was discovered in the Jagersfontein mine in the Orange River Colony. It is not only one of the worlds largest diamonds it is the second largest diamond ever found. It is about one third the size of the Cullinan. It originally weighed 995.2 carats. The diamond was cut into ten pieces, the three largest weighing 158, 147 and 130 carats. These pieces were then cut into 21 gems ranging from 70 carats to less than 1 carat. An African mine worker found the diamond as he was loading his truck, he kept the find secret until he could safely turn it over to the mine manager who rewarded him with some money, a horse and a saddle.

After prolonged study it was decided to first cleave the diamond into ten pieces: this operation which was performed by Mr. A. Asscher, resulting in the three largest pieces weighing 158, 147 and 130 carats. The polishing was supervised by Henry Koe and yielded 21 gems, ranging from 70 carats to less than 1 carat. They totalled 373.75 carats which represented a loss in weight of almost 63 percent. The final result, however, was considered to have been better than anyone had expected. The specifications of the larger gems cut from the Excelsior are as follows:

(metric carats)
Excelsior I ... 69.68 carats ... pear shape
Excelsior II ... 47.03 carats ... pear shape
Excelsior III ... 46.90 carats ... pear shape (the Rovensky?)
Excelsior IV ... 40.23 carats ... marquise
Excelsior V ... 34.91 carats ... pear shape
Excelsior VI ... 28.61 carats ... marquise
Excelsior VII ... 26.30 carats ... marquise
Excelsior VIII ... 24.31 carats ... pear shape
Excelsior IX ... 16.78 carats ... pear shape
Excelsior X ... 13.86 carats ... pear shape
Excelsior XI ... 9.82 carats ... pear shape

The Excelsior gems were sold seperately, three of them were bought by Tiffany & Co., in their old store in Union Square in New York City. The names of the other buyers have not been disclosed but it is known that De Beers displayed one of the marquise-shaped fragments at the 1939 World's Fair in New York.


The Excelsior I


Darya-e Noor

Darya-e Noor (Sea of Light) diamond was brought back from India by Nader Shah in 1739. After Nader Shah's death, the Darya-e Noor was inherited by Shahrokh Mirza, his grandson. It then came into the possession of Alam Khan Khozeimeh, and later, Lotfoli Khan Zand, a member of Iran's Zand Dynasty. Agha Mohammad Khan, cruel founder of Qajar dynasty, defeated the Zands, and so it came into the possession of the Qajars. Fathali Shah Qajar had his name inscribed on one facet. Later, Nasseridin Shah Qajar believed that that this diamond was one of the gems decorating the crown of Cyrus the Great, so he often wore it on an armband. When armbands fell from royal fashion, he wore it as brooch. On occasion, the gem would be left in the care of high personages of the land, as a sign of honor, though it was eventually kept hidden in the Golestan Palace treasury museum until Mozzafaridin Shah's time, when he wore it as a hat decoration while visiting Europe in 1902. Reza Shah, the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, wore it as a decoration on his military hat during his coronation in 1926, and it was used in Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi's coronation ceremony in 1967.
There is no doubt that the diamond was taken from the Golkandeh mines of southern India. In 1965, a Canadian team which was conducting research on the Imperial jewels concluded that this Darya-e Noor may have been part of a large pink diamond which was incorporated in the throne of the Moghul emporor Shah Jehan and described in the journal of the French jeweller Tavernier in 1642, who called it the "Diamanta Grande Table" in his journal. This diamond may have been cut into two pieces; the larger part is the Sea of Light, and the smaller part of is believed to be the Noor-ol Ein diamond which is presently incorporated in a tiara in Iranian imperial jewel collection. Including the frame, it is 7.2 cm. high and 5.3 cm. wide. It is believed to weigh between 182 to 186 cts. Fathali Shah's name is inscribed on one facet.

The Millennium Star

In 1990 the diamond was discovered in the Mbuji-Mayi district of Zaire (Republic of the Congo) in alluvial deposits and was purchased by De Beers. The cutters of the Steinmetz Diamonds Group took over three years to complete the classic pear form with 54 facets. Some 100 plastic models of the original rough were made, and these were almost all used to plan and design the optimum polished stone in beauty and weight. The cutting was done using lasers. The Millennium Star is a pear-shaped diamond weighing 204,04 carats. It is the world’s second largest diamond in the top colour-grade D, internally and externally flawless, cut to perfect proportions. The rough diamond was weighing the magic number of 777 carats. The first is the 273.15 carat Centenary Diamond. The first display to public was in October 1999 as the centerpiece of the “De Beers Millennium Diamond Collection” in London. A second exhibition was the “De Beers Millennium Jewels Exhibition” at the new Millennium Dome in London in 2000. There was an attempt to steal the diamond from the exhibition hall by using bulldozers to break in but the attempt was thwarted by a tip to Scotland Yard.



Natural Gemstones