African diamonds have been objects of desire for many centuries and have been associated with supernatural qualities for health and protection. In African tradition, diamonds, gemstones, and beads have always been used as a form of personal adornment. Some of the continent’s largest and most radiant gemstones have also been coveted by royalty around the world and used in world-famous jewellery masterpieces such as the British Crown Jewels. Here are some of Africa’s biggest, brightest, and most beautiful finds.
The largest diamond ever found in the entire world was found in Africa, and it weighed over 3,000 carats. The Cullinan diamond was found in 1905 in a South Africa mine. While the Cullinan was divided into smaller stones, part of it is still considered the second largest polished diamond in the world. The Cullinan I is more popularly known as the Great Star of Africa and can be found at the Sceptre with the Cross, which is part of the British Crown Jewels. The Cullinan II is another portion of the original diamond and weighs 300 carats. It is also part of the British Crown Jewels and is called the Lesser Star of Africa.
Tanzanite is a rare African gemstone that is only found on Mount Kilimanjaro. In 1967, the Queen of Kilimanjaro was discovered, and it weighed 242 carats. This piece is not the largest that was ever discovered, but that does not make it any less popular. The Queen of Kilimanjaro is set in a tiara that is surrounded by 900 diamonds and 800 green tsavorite garnets.
Imagine a gemstone that weighs 90,000 carats and is approximately the size of a rugby ball. The Millenium Sapphire was found in Madagascar in 1995, and the owners started the Millenium Sapphire Project. Many historical people were carved into the gemstone in order “to pay tribute to humanity’s greatest examples of ingenuity and accomplishment.” Some of the people who were carved into the gemstone include Beethoven, Michaelangelo, Shakespeare, and Albert Einstein.
The very first diamond to be found in South Africa was the Eureka Diamond. It was found near Hopetown in 1867, and this find actually started the big diamond rush of the entire area. The Eureka Diamond weighs over 20 carats and is currently being shown at the Mine Museum.
New gems are still being found, and the Lesotho Promise was discovered in the Letseng Diamond Mine in 2006. Lesotho Promise weighed over 60 carats and was sold to a dealer for $12 million. The dealer then cut the Lesotho Promise into 26 smaller stones.
Imagine one diamond being cut into three smaller stones. Premier Rose was found in the De Beers’ Premiere Mine during the late 1970s. The Mouw Diamond Cutting Company bought the diamond after it was found. The owner’s wife was named Rose, which is where the name of the stone came from. Once this stone was cut into three smaller stones, it became known as the Premier Rose Family. The Big Rose weighs 137.02 carats, Little Rose weighs 31.48 carats, and Baby Rose weighs 2.11 carats. Premier Rose was last valued at over $10 million.
The highest quality blue coloured African gemstone called Jeremejevite can be found in Namibia. Jeremejevite was originally found in Siberia, but the quality was not as good as the ones in Namibia. Jeremejevite is also considered a gemological rarity.
The Kimberley Diamond was discovered in the Kimberley Mine in the 1920s. The Kimberley Diamond was eventually cut into an emerald cut shape that is unique to that diamond. The Kimberley Diamond is now part of a private jewellery collection. The diamond weighs over 55 carats and is worth at least $500,000.
There are a few rare African gemstone types in the entire world, and the Blue Garnet is the rarest garnet of all the garnets. The Blue Garnet was found in the 1990s in Bekily, Madagascar. Since it is so rare, one carat of the Blue Garnet can cost at least $2,000.
Most people believe that diamonds are clear, but some of the most magnificent ones are coloured. The Tiffany Diamond is one of the largest yellow diamonds in the entire world. The Tiffany Diamond was found in 1878 and was originally 287.42 carats. The Tiffany Diamond was eventually cut down to half of its size.