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The Victoria Transvaal Diamond

By 19.06 September 20th, 2018 No Comments

In 1951 the Premier Mine in the Transvaal, South Africa, one of the most prolific diamond mines in the world, yielded a very large stone, subsequently named the Transvaal Diamond. This is a Type 11a diamond, the colour coming from distorted areas within the crystal formed by twisted and bent crystal units during the stone’s formation. These distorted areas change the absorption spectrum of the stone imparting the brown colour to the diamond.

The original owners of this stone, which weighed 240 carats, are unknown, as are the people involved in the cutting. At first it was cut to 75 carats with 116 facets in a pear shape, with a huge loss of 165 carats,  but in order to improve the cut stone’s brilliance and proportions by reducing its depth, but not its length and width, it was recut to 67.89 carats.

It is said that this Transvaal Diamond travelled around the United States for many years, perhaps as a part of exhibitions. It was graded by the Gemological Institute of America as a natural fancy brown-yellow diamond with a clarity grade of VS-2. It is the 6th largest famous brown diamond in the world.

thevictoria-transvaal-diamondIn 1976 Leonard E. Wilkinson, a timber baron in the North Western United States, paid $430 000 for the diamond at the Desert Auction Galleries of Palm Springs, California. Wilkinson assigned Baumgold Brothers, Inc. to design a magnificent necklace with this unique stone as its centre pendant: the gold chain was set with 66 round brilliant-cut diamonds, fringed with 10 drop motifs, each set with two marquise-cut diamonds, a pear-shaped diamond and a small round brilliant cut diamond completing this stunning piece of art. The total weight of the included 106 diamonds is 45 carats. Leonard Wilkinson presented this exquisite piece of jewellery to his wife, Victoria and renamed the stone, The Victoria Transvaal Diamond.

Prior to being bought by Leonard Wilkinson, the owners marketed this diamond by featuring it in the 1952 movie, Tarzan’s Savage Fury, starring Lex Barker as Tarzan and Dorothy Hart as Jane. It was worn by Jane towards the end of the film. It was also featured in other US films and has been shown in many high profile exhibitions in the United States and Canada.

In 1977 Leonard E. Wilkinson made the magnanimous gesture of bequeathing the necklace to the Natural History Museum at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., together with many other valuable pieces of jewellery.

Seen in the Smithsonian Institute are the Victoria Transvaal Diamond, the Portuguese Diamond, the Pearson Diamond (colourless), the De Young Pink Pear, the Eugenie Blue Heart Diamond, an unnamed oval-shaped diamond, and the yellow Oppenheimer Diamond Crystal at the back. Photo by Chip Clark.

Clarity

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Color

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Carat

The international unit of weight, used for measuring diamonds and gemstones. 1 carat is equal to 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams.

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Clarity

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Color

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Cut

Nothing is more impactful on a precious stone’s brilliance than its cut. The cut refers to the angles and proportions of a diamond. Known in the industry as ‘fire’, referring to the coloured light reflected, and ‘brilliance’ for the uncoloured light. The cut of a diamond – its form and finish, its depth and width, the uniformity of the facets – determines its beauty. The skill with which a diamond is cut determines how well it reflects and refracts light. A diamond should be cut proportionally, neither very shallow not very deep, given its dimensions. A diamond’s cut is its most important characteristics and a measure of its apparent beauty.

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Certificate

A diamond certificate or grading report provides an expert opinion on the quality of the diamond and is provided by an independent gemology lab. Trained gemologists with specialized equipment measure the weight and dimensions of the diamond and assess quality characteristics such as cut, color, and clarity. Brilliant Earth diamonds are certified by the world’s leading gem grading labs including GIA, IGI, and GCAL.

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Depth

The height of a diamond, from the culet to the table referred as a Depth of the diamond . Depth % is the height of the diamond as a percentage of the girdle diameter.

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Table

Table referred as the largest facet of a gemstone, located at the top. Table % is the table width as a percentage of the girdle diameter.

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Polish

Polish refers to the smoothness of the exterior of a diamond. Polish is graded from Ideal, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor. Polish grades of Good or higher have the least effect on the brilliance of the diamond and recommended by us for the finest quality jewelry.

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Symmetry

Symmetry refers to the angles to which the facets are aligned. Basically exactness of the shape of a diamond, and the symmetrical arrangement and even placement of the facets. If facets are misaligned, the diamond may poorly reflect light. Symmetry is graded from Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor. We recommends diamonds with Good or higher symmetry grades.

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Fluorescence

Describes the diamond’s response to ultraviolet light. In diamonds with strong or very strong fluorescence, there may be some interference with the flow of light which causes a milky or oily appearance. Canadian diamonds almost always have none to slight fluorescence.

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Measurements

Diamonds with “fancy” shapes are measured according to their length, width and depth. These diamonds will have a longer axis (the biggest measurement) and a shorter one that represents their width. The depth indicates the measurement of the diamond from the bottom to the top. The relative proportions of a diamond ultimately affect its quality and value.

Round-shaped diamonds are never perfectly round even though they may seem to be that way when you look at them. There is a tiny variation between maximum and minimum diameter, so dimensions are reflected as measurements of maximum diameter, minimum diameter and depth.

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