History: Most Valuable Jewelry of All Time

What is so special about some of the most iconic and valuable pieces of jewelry of all time? What considers them to be of higher value than most other jewelry in history? Let’s look at some of them…

-Famous Diamonds: The Hope

Rough weight: 110.50cts, Modern cut weight: 45.52cts, Shape: Cushion, Fancy deep grayish blue, VS1, Located at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC today set as a necklace. 

We’ll make this quick, if possible. Going back to the mid-seventeenth century in India, Jean Baptist Tavernier (17th century gem merchant) bought a sapphire-blue diamond and named it Tavernier Blue. In 1669, Tavernier sold the gem to Louis XIV that was then known as Blue Diamond of the Crown that remained with the royal family until 1792. The diamond re-surfaced in London when Henry Philip Hope purchased it (before 1839) and named it after his family and it stayed with them until 1901. Ownership was passed to two separate individuals in Turkey then Paris until Pierre Cartier wanted to enhance the diamond’s appeal by creating fictional tales to create the Hope’s famous “curse” implying bad luck to whoever owned it. The stone then crossed the Atlantic to America in 1911 and was owned by Evalyn Walsh McLean who bought it for $180,000. She did not treat it with great care, leaving it in a shoebox and lending it out to friends to wear. McLean passed in 1947 and sent it down the line to heirs who then sold it in 1949 to pay debts and claims against their estate. The stone was revived when Harry Winston bought the Hope for $1.3 million. In 1958, Harry Winston donated the diamond to the Smithsonian where it’s on public display and said to be the museum’s most popular attraction.

-Koh-i-Noor Diamond

This diamond originates from a long long long Indian royalty history (we’ll spare those gory and lengthy details to bring this closer to more modern times). Toward the end of India’s ownership of the diamond, their only heir to the throne was a 10-year-old boy who was then forced by the British to sign over this diamond and all claim to sovereignty because they were obsessed with holding this level of prestige and power (feel free to read that history yourself, it’s fascinating!). From there, the diamond became a special possession of Queen Victoria. Her husband, Prince Albert, had the stone re-cut and re-polished (which ultimately reduced its size by half), because people couldn’t understand the significance of this stone. Doing this, allowed the light of the stone to retract brilliantly which made it much more alluring. Queen Victoria went on to wear this stone as a brooch which was then placed in the Crown Jewels; first in the crown of Queen Alexandra, then to the crown of Queen Mary, now at the front of the crown famously worn by Queen Mother. Its last appearance was when the crown was placed on top of Queen Mother’s coffin at her funeral. 

-Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring 

We couldn’t skip this decadent historical piece that has become one of the most well known jewelry pieces of all time..Princess Diana’s engagement ring. This 12 carat oval sapphire surrounded by 14 round diamonds set in 18K White Gold is not only royal in ownership but royal-blue in color. Then, sold at roughly $60,000 is today worth an estimated $400,000. This was a peculiar pick by a royal for an engagement ring, although sapphires especially have been the beloved gemstone aesthetic for centuries for the royals. It was inspired by a brooch once belonging to Queen Victoria that included a sapphire center stone that was worn by the Queen as her “something blue” on her wedding day. 

Pieces like these inspire many recreated designs today. Passing down gemstones and jewelry through generations adds value, both monetary and sentimental. You too can invest in pieces like this, no matter its current worth! Use your own passed down gems to design a piece with meaning, or find a new stone to create a new family heirloom, that will last beyond your lifetime. 


Ready to reimagine a family heirloom or looking for that special new stone? Get in touch!

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