The Excelsior Diamond

The excelsior diamond was discovered in Jagersfontein mine (Africa) on 30th June 1893. Originally, it weighed 971.75 carats (194.2g).

Rough Stone of Excelsior Diamond
Excelsior Rough

It was discovered when a worker saw the stone while loading a truck. Worker hid the stone from his supervisors and directly delivered the stone to his manager, who later rewarded him.

Original shape of this crystal was quite unusual. It was flat on one side and had peak on the other side. Due to this characteristic it got its name meaning "higher".

The stone had the peculiar features of Jagersfontein mine diamonds. Though having various internal black spots, it was of blue-white color and was rated to be of very fine gem quality.

Cutting of the Diamond

Since, this crystal was of huge size so it could have had posed difficulty in finding a suitable buyer. Hence, it was decided to cleave it into smaller pieces. So, it will be appropriate to say that for owner of this diamond, monetary value mattered more than its historical significance.

The responsibility of cutting this stone was entrusted with Asscher Diamond Company of Amsterdam, Netherlands. The cutting process resulted in 21 diamonds from this huge stone. The three largest stone weighed 158, 147 and 130 carats respectively. The smaller one’s ranged from 70 carats to less than 1 carat.

The total weight of 21 gems resulted in 373.75 carats, leading to total loss of 63%. Due to this, cutting of this huge stone in this manner can be considered as the worst decision of the diamond cutting history.

These gems were sold separately. Some were bought by Tiffany and Company. De Beers displayed one of the marquise shaped diamond at the 1939 world’s fair in New York.

Excelsior Diamond set in Bracelet
Excelsior set in Bracelet

Excelsior-I (one of the 21 pieces) - weighing 69.68 carats - was the most publicly noticed diamond amongst all. It is believed to have changed many hands. Finally, it settled with Robert Mouawad in 1996 for $2,642,000 who set it in a bracelet.

Return from Excelsior to Famous Diamonds page

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