What are Some of the Biggest Diamonds in the World and Where are They Located?
Serena Norr / February 22, 2018
Diamonds have long held our fascination, and there is no doubt that they rank as one of the most prized possessions on the planet due to their striking beauty. Still, there is nothing more fascinating for gemstone enthusiasts than a truly massive diamond, which is what makes the recent news from Lesotho so exciting. According to British-based mining company Gem Diamonds Ltd., in early January 2018 a worker at one of its mines in the mountains of Lesotho found a massive 910-carat stone that ranks as the fifth-largest diamond ever found. For this reason, we thought we’d take a look at some of the other biggest diamonds in the world to see just why this new Lesotho find is so extraordinary.
Ranking the Biggest Diamonds in the World
1. The Cullinan Diamond
Although Gem Diamonds’ recent find in Lesotho is undoubtedly huge, it doesn’t come anywhere close to the size of the world’s biggest diamond, the Cullinan Diamond. In fact, this 3,106-carat diamond is almost three times larger than any of its closest competitors. This spectacular stone was discovered in 1905 at South Africa’s Premier No. 2 mine, and it was named after the mine’s chairman, Sir Thomas Cullinan. The diamond was originally put on sale in London, but it failed to sell despite considerable interest.
Eventually, it was given as a gift to the United Kingdom’s King Edward VII, who had it cut down into numerous smaller stones. The largest of these is the Great Star of Africa, or Cullinan I, which weighs 530.4 carats. This diamond is part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, along with the 317.4-carat Second Star of Africa or Cullinan II. Numerous smaller stones were also cut from the Cullinan diamond, including seven major diamonds with a total weight of 208.29 carats that are owned by Queen Elizabeth II. As well, the Queen owns many other smaller unpolished stones and fragments from the Cullinan diamond.
2. The Sergio Diamond
The Cullinan Diamond may have the distinction of being the biggest gem-quality stone ever found, but in fact, the non-gem quality Sergio Diamond is actually larger in terms of total carat weight. This extremely rare, black carbonado diamond was discovered in 1893 in Brazil and, with a total weight of 3,167 carats, has the distinction of being the largest diamond ever found.
3. The Lesedi La Rona Diamond
Many of the biggest diamonds in the world were found in the late-19th to early-20th century. Nonetheless, the Lesotho diamond isn’t even in the biggest diamond discovered this decade. Instead, that distinction belongs to the 1,111-carat Lesedi La Rona, which was found in Botswana’s Karowe mine in 2015. This colorless/white diamond is the second-largest gem-quality stone ever found.
Currently, Graff Diamonds owns this stone, which was sold last year at a Sotheby’s auction for $53 million. However, it seems that there isn’t much of a market for such a huge stone, as this price was significantly less than the 813-carat Constellation diamond found alongside it sold for.
4. Excelsior Diamond
The story of the world’s third-largest gem-quality diamond is a sad one. Found at South Africa’s Jagersfontein mine in 1893, the 995-carat Excelsior diamond failed to sell after years on the market. As a result, it was unfortunately cut into 70 smaller stones, the largest of which is the 70-carat Excelsior I.
5. The Star of Sierra Leone
Another unfortunate diamond that was tragically chopped into numerous smaller stones, the 969-carat Star of Sierra Leone was found in the country of the same name in 1973. This stone was cut into 17 smaller diamonds, but not everything went to plan. After cutting the largest stone, a flaw was discovered that required the diamond to be recut. As a result, the largest stone from this previously massive diamond only ended up weighing a mere 54 carats.
The World’s Biggest Cut Diamonds
1. The Golden Jubilee Diamond
South Africa’s Premier Mine is famous for having produced some of the world’s biggest diamonds. In addition to the Cullinan Diamond, Premier Mine is also where the stunning Golden Jubilee Diamond was found. With a rough, uncut weight of 755.5 carats, this stone was nowhere near the size of the Cullinan. Nonetheless, it still resulted in the 545.67 carat Golden Jubilee Diamond, which currently ranks as the world’s largest cut diamond. After being given as a gift to King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand in honor of the 50th anniversary of his coronation, the diamond was sent to the Thai Royal Palace to become part of the Crown Jewels where it remains today.
2. Cullinan I/Star of Africa I
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the biggest gem-quality diamond ever found also resulted in one of the world’s largest cut diamonds, the 540-carat Star of Africa I. If you’re interested in checking out this diamond, you can view it mounted on the head of the Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross along with the rest of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom at the Tower of London.
3. The Incomparable Diamond
The Incomparable Diamond is an absolutely stunning yellow-brown diamond that was found in a trash pile by a young Congolese girl in 1989. Originally, the stone weighed an astonishing 890 carats before being eventually sent to Antwerp, Belgium, where it was cut into one large stone and fourteen smaller satellite stones. The result is the 407.48-carat Incomparable Diamond, which is now still thought to rest in the private collection of one of its original buyers.
4. Cullinan II
This 317.4-carat stone is mounted on the UK’s Imperial State Crown. Despite only being the second-largest stone cut from the Cullinan diamond, the Lesser Star of Africa is still the fourth-largest cut diamond in the world.
5. Spirit of de Grisogrono Diamond
This awe-inspiring 312-carat diamond has the distinction of being the world’s largest cut black diamond in addition to the fifth-largest cut diamond overall. The diamond was cut from a 587-carat rough stone found in a mine in the Central African Republic. After being cut, the diamond was set into a ring surrounded by 702 smaller white diamonds. The ring was rumored to have been sold, but its owner is currently unknown.