October, Some famous diamonds

Given my profession is there any doubt I would like diamonds. There is a large diamond going to be sold this month in Hong Kong that will probably create history. A lot of buzz going on about this beautiful diamond given its size and colour but I am going to leave talking about it till next month when I will update what it sells for.

However, there are diamonds I want to talk to you about. You may not know of them but they are part of the history of diamonds and man’s fascination with the pebbles of the earth.

The Star of South Africa an 83.50 carat crystal was found in 1869 near Orange River near Hopetown.

Star of South Africa Diamond
Star of South Africa Diamond

The crystal was cut into this 47.69 carat flawless pear shape as seen here in the detachable pendant by Cartier in 1910″s.

The story of the discovery of this important diamond has some variations but in essence, it was bought from a shepherd,  who  had discovered it,  by Schalk Van Niekark for the sum of 500 sheep, 10 cattle and 1 horse.  Schalk then sold the Star rough “pebble for $56,000 in Hopetown. This diamond was important as it started the African diamond rush.  The Star of South Africa was said to have been fashioned by Louis Hond. Today this is in a private collection.

The Star of South Africa was not the only important diamond to have passed through Schalk Van Niekark’s hand.

He also was instrumental in discovering the “Eureka” diamond which was the first diamond discovered in South Africa. There are conflicting stories but it is said that a 15 year old boy named Erasmus Jacobs,  who found the crystal on the banks of the Orange River in 1866, kept it a while before he gave it to his farmer neighbour Schalk van Niekark whom he knew liked unusual stones.eurekadiamond

This brilliant cut diamond is not exceptional, especially by todays standards,  being of a brown yellow colouration with many imperfections and inclusions. The crystal was 21.25 carat rough finished down to a 10.73 carat faceted gems. It was identified by Dr. W. G. Atherstone of Grahamstown, one of the few people who knew anything about minerals and gems. I believe today it is the property of the Government of the Republic of South Africa.

Another interesting diamond is the Shah Jahan Diamond which is a 56.71 carat pink table cut octagonal shape. It has been confirmed by experts to have been worn in the turban of Shah Jahan in his miniature portrait done 1616-17. It is held in a private collection.  The stone has two holes in it which allowed the sewing it into a turban.

shahjahantablecutdiamond-2            shahjahantablecutdiamond

There are many more interesting diamonds that I will be exploring in upcoming blogs for you.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I.


Karen Howard FCGmA, RMV, AAP (CJA)


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