The Enigmatic Krupp Diamond: A Gem of Extravagance and Romance
The Krupp Diamond // Getty Images
In the world of exquisite gemstones and legendary love stories, few gems can boast the prestige and romantic allure of the Krupp Diamond. This magnificent diamond has graced the fingers of several significant owners and captured the hearts of millions worldwide. Its history, from its discovery to its acquisition by the iconic Hollywood couple, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, is a tale of opulence, passion, and fascination. In this article, we will delve deep into the story of the Krupp Diamond, exploring its gemological details, its storied past, and its enduring value.
The Origin and Early Owners
The Krupp Diamond, known originally as the Krupp Diamond, was discovered in the Premier Mine in South Africa, a renowned source of some of the world's most exceptional diamonds. This remarkable gemstone weighed a staggering 33.19 carats in its rough form, making it a rare and precious find from the outset. Its stunning emerald-cut shape, which showcases the diamond's exceptional clarity and brilliance, is one of its defining characteristics.
The diamond found its way into the hands of Alfred Krupp, a prominent German industrialist, and owner of the Krupp industrial conglomerate. Krupp, who was known for his extravagant lifestyle, acquired the diamond during a time when South Africa's diamond mines were yielding extraordinary gems. The diamond was subsequently named after him and became known as the Krupp Diamond.
The Krupp Diamond's Remarkable Characteristics
The Krupp Diamond Ring // Christies's
The Krupp Diamond's impressive size and extraordinary quality are two factors that contribute to its enduring fame and value. This emerald-cut diamond measures approximately 25.6mm by 19.7mm by 9.7mm. This cut is known for its clean lines and step-cut facets. This cut showcases the diamond's exceptional clarity and allows for a beautiful play of light within the stone.
The Krupp Diamond is a Type IIa diamond. Type IIa diamonds are known for their exceptional purity, often containing little to no nitrogen impurities. This contributes to their colorless appearance and exceptional transparency. The stone is graded as internally flawless, a remarkable feat considering its size, with a color grade of D, which is the highest color grade on the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) scale, indicating its exceptional white and colorless appearance. Since the Krupp Diamond is a Type IIa diamond with a D color grade, it is entirely colorless. It exhibits no noticeable hue or tint, making it a truly white diamond, enhancing its value and visual appeal. These impeccable characteristics make it a true treasure among diamonds.
Beyond its stunning appearance, the Krupp Diamond possesses remarkable gemological attributes that make it a standout in the world of fine jewelry. Its crystal structure is cubic, a hallmark of diamonds, and its remarkable hardness (ranking 10 on the Mohs scale) ensures that it remains virtually impervious to scratches or damage. The stone's refractive index is approximately 2.42, allowing it to disperse light beautifully, resulting in the mesmerizing play of colors and brilliant sparkle for which diamonds are cherished.
The presence of fluorescence in diamonds can affect their appearance. The Krupp Diamond has been reported to have strong blue fluorescence when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. While fluorescence can sometimes cause a diamond to appear slightly hazy or milky, the strong blue fluorescence of the Krupp Diamond is not known to have a negative impact on its overall appearance or value.
The combination of these exceptional gemological characteristics, including its flawless clarity, colorless nature, and exquisite emerald cut, contribute to the Krupp Diamond's status as a remarkable and highly valuable gem.
The Magnificent Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
Elizabeth Taylor displaying The Krupp Diamond // Elizabeth Taylor
While the Krupp Diamond had already enjoyed a storied history by the mid-20th century, it was catapulted into even greater fame when it came into the possession of the iconic Hollywood couple, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Their relationship was as tumultuous as it was passionate, and their extravagant gestures of love often took center stage in the media spotlight.
Richard Burton, who was deeply enamored with Elizabeth Taylor, decided to gift her the Krupp Diamond. He acquired the diamond from the renowned jeweler Harry Winston on May 17, 1968 for $307,000 USD at the time, making it one of the most expensive diamonds ever purchased during that era. The diamond's striking emerald cut was a perfect match for Taylor's timeless beauty, and its size and quality spoke volumes about Burton's devotion. The Krupp Diamond replaced Taylor's previous engagement ring, which was also an impressive diamond but was overshadowed by the sheer magnificence of the Krupp.
Why the Krupp Diamond?
Richard Burton's decision to give Elizabeth Taylor the Krupp Diamond was symbolic of their extravagant love and his desire to outshine any previous gesture of affection. The diamond's exceptional qualities were a reflection of Taylor's own extraordinary beauty, and it became a symbol of their passion and the opulence of their love affair.
The Princess Margaret Meeting
The moment when Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Margaret crossed paths at a wedding became the stuff of legend. Both iconic women attended a lavish event, radiating grace and glamour. However, it was the Krupp Diamond that initially caught Princess Margaret's discerning eye. As they conversed, Princess Margaret, known for her candidness, remarked that the Krupp ring was "vulgar." Yet, the magic of diamonds and the charm of Elizabeth Taylor prevailed. Taylor, with her characteristic elegance, extended an offer that was impossible for the Princess to resist. She invited Princess Margaret to try on the remarkable Krupp Diamond herself. The moment the diamond graced the Princess's hand, it became clear that this spectacular gem transcended any judgment. It was a testament to the allure of fine jewelry and the irresistible charm of two unforgettable women.
The Value and Legacy
The Krupp Diamond, with its rich history and legendary ownership, is considered one of the world's most valuable diamonds. While it's challenging to determine an exact current value due to its unique historical significance, its size, quality, and association with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton make it a priceless gem. When Elizabeth Taylor passed away in 2011, the diamond was auctioned at Christies and sold for $8,818,500 (£5,643,840/€6,790,245) to the South Korean conglomerate E-Land. The selling price set a new record cost per carat for a colorless diamond. If the diamond were to be sold today, it would undoubtedly command a staggering price, reaching into the tens of millions of dollars.
The Krupp Diamond's journey from the mines of South Africa to the hands of Elizabeth Taylor is a testament to its enduring allure and captivating history. Its exceptional gemological characteristics, including its size, clarity, and brilliance, elevate it to the upper echelons of the world's most remarkable diamonds. As a symbol of extravagant love and opulence, the Krupp Diamond remains a cherished and priceless gem, forever etched into the annals of history as a testament to the enduring power of romance and luxury.