For thousands of years, jewellery has played a central role in culture. Accessories were first worn by remote ancient civilisations and are still enjoyed by the modern population today. Over the years, some of the most extravagant pieces have been passed from person to person, gifted or sold for large sums of cash. In this article, we look at some of the most expensive jewellery in the world.
Number ten on the list is a dazzling Chopard Watch. Containing a total of 874 diamonds, the 201-carat watch was last sold for £19.1 million. The three largest diamonds on the watch are heart-shaped and range in colour from white to blue to pink. When swivelled apart, the heart-shaped stones reveal the watch face underneath. Valued at almost £20 million, this piece is thought to be the most expensive watch in the world.
Number nine on the list is a Cartier necklace, crafted from Jadeite beads and secured with a diamond, platinum, ruby and gold clasp. The piece was last sold at an auction in 2014 where it went for a whopping £20.9 million. The luxurious necklace was once owned by Barbara Hutton, heiress to the Woolworth fortune. In the past, the piece was also owned by Princess Nina Mdivani.
This pink diamond ring broke records in 2010 when it was sold for £35.2 million to jeweller Laurence Graff. The piece was originally owned by Harry Winston, who kept the jewel in his private collection for many years. In 2010, Graff purchased the diamond and recut and renamed it. Today, the intense pink diamond is mounted in a ring by Graff.
The seventh piece on the list is another diamond ring. In 2015, this piece was purchased by Hong Kong billionaire and collector, Joseph Lau. Spending a mighty £37 million on the jewellery, Lau renamed the piece “Blue Moon of Josephine” after his 7-year-old daughter. The Blue Moon diamond was discovered one year prior to its sale, in the Cullinan mine in South Africa.
Number six on the list is the world’s most valuable necklace. Created by jeweller Mouawad, the piece contains the world’s biggest internally flawless diamond. The stone was discovered in the 1980s when a young girl found it in a pile of mining rubble in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Today, the 407.48-carat stone is attached to a rose gold chain decorated with smaller diamonds.
In May 2016, this dazzling blue diamond was sold for £44 million at a Christie’s auction. Before its sale, the emerald-cut stone belonged to Sir Philip Oppenheimer and was the most expensive stone to ever be sold at auction.
In April 2017, the Pink Star was sold for £54.5 million at a Sotheby’s auction. Taking the place of Oppenheimer Blue, the Pink Star then became the most expensive jewel to ever be sold at auction. The piece was purchased only five minutes into the auction by Hong Kong conglomerate company Chow Tai Fook Enterprises. Before this, the stone was known as the Steinmetz Pink; when Chow Tai Fook Enterprises bought the piece, they renamed it the Pink Star. Weighing 59.6 carats, the luxurious pink stone is the largest internally flawless pink diamond ever to be graded by the GIA. The jewel was discovered in 1999, mined by De Beers in Africa. Before being cut and polished, the diamond weighed 132.5 carats.
The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond was discovered in an Indian mine in the 1600s. The fancy grey-blue stone was first owned by King Philip IV of Spain and was included in the dowry of his daughter upon her engagement to Emperor Leopold I of Austria in 1664. For many years, the jewel remained a part of the Austrian and Bavarian crown jewels. In 2008, the Wittelsbach Diamond was sold for £16.8 million to jeweller Laurence Graff. Controversially, Graff had it recut to its current state to improve the jewel’s clarity and brilliance. In 2011, the 31.06-carat, cushion cut diamond was sold to a member of the Qatari royal family for £61.2 million.
The Peacock Brooch by Graff Diamonds was unveiled in 2013 at the TEFAF luxury art and antique fair in the Netherlands. With a total carat weight of 120.8, the extravagant brooch contains 1,305 gemstones and measures around 10 centimetres in height. In the centre of the brooch is a pear-shaped deep blue diamond that weighs 20.02 carats. Surrounding the centre diamond are white, pink, green, orange, and yellow diamonds.
Currently, the Hope Diamond is the most expensive jewellery in the world. Widely recognised, the stone is a 45.42-carat, grey-blue, cushion cut diamond worth somewhere between £150 and 200 million. The gemstone was discovered in Golconda, India in 1666. Since its discovery, the jewel has changed hands many times. Rumour has it that the stone was originally purchased by King Louis XIV in 1668 and named the “French Blue”. For many years, the stone remained in the possession of the French royal family; however, in 1792 the jewel was stolen along with the crown jewels. In 1839, the diamond reappeared in the gem collection catalogue of Henry Philip Hope. After passing through several more hands, the diamond was purchased by jeweller Harry Winston in 1949. When he passed away, Winston donated the piece to the Smithsonian Institution where it is displayed today.