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Press release

Diamonds Star line-up

Star line-up of rare white and coloured diamonds makes the Natural History Museum’s Diamonds exhibition the biggest ever

Diamonds
8 July 2005 – 26 February 2006
Media Preview: 7 July 2005

A star line-up of many of the world’s most spectacular white and coloured diamonds will go on display at the Natural History Museum this July, in the world’s biggest-ever diamonds exhibition. Diamonds has been made possible by the generous support of principal sponsor Steinmetz, with additional support from the Diamond Trading Company. This dazzling event is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see such an astonishing array of important diamonds in one exhibition.

‘The sheer size and diversity of the collection of diamonds we’re assembling will make this an awe-inspiring exhibition,’ says Dr Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum. ‘This exhibition will bring together many of the most impressive single stones in the world alongside fascinating science and insights into the diamond industry to tell the story of diamonds from deep in the Earth to the red carpet.’

Not all diamonds are ‘white’ and this exhibition will focus on the variety of natural colours. For every 10,000 white diamonds only one coloured diamond is mined. Coloured diamonds, known as ‘fancy’ diamonds, are the most valuable gemstones in the world. The star line-up includes:

  • The De Beers Millennium Star. This 203.04-carat pear-shaped stone is the world’s largest ‘D colour’ internally and externally flawless diamond. White diamonds are graded by colour using a lettering system from D to Z, with D being completely colourless and Z a pale yellow. The De Beers Millennium Star was unveiled in 1999 at the Millennium Dome, where it became the target of a foiled robbery attempt in 2000. This is the first time since then that it has been on public display in the UK.
  • The Steinmetz Pink. The world’s largest fancy vivid pink, flawless diamond, kindly loaned by Steinmetz. It took Steinmetz almost two years to cut this magnificent 59.60-carat oval-shaped diamond, which was first revealed around the neck of model Helena Christensen in Monaco, May 2003.
  • The Incomparable. Cut from an 890-carat rough diamond, at a staggering 407.48 carats this yellow stone is the third-largest cut diamond in existence.
  • The Ocean Dream. The world’s largest naturally occurring fancy deep blue-green diamond at 5.51 carats. Its incredible colour, caused by exposure to natural radiation over millions of years in the Earth, makes this one of the world’s rarest diamonds.
  • The Moussaieff Red. There are very few true red diamonds in existence. To find a deep red diamond of this size – 5.11 carats – is astounding, making it one of the most rare and highly prized diamonds in the world.
  • The Allnatt. At 101.29 carats this vivid yellow cushion-shaped diamond is one of the most striking in the world.
  • The 616. A 616-carat diamond crystal as found and remaining uncut, the 616 is the largest single diamond crystal in the world, greater in carat weight than any cut diamond known today. 
  • The Orange Flame. Most orange diamonds are below one carat in size, so this 3.23-carat vivid yellow orange diamond is exceptionally rare. The colour is caused by small amounts of nitrogen within the diamond.
  • The Blue Empress. This 14-carat pear-shaped blue diamond was one of eleven fancy blue diamonds, which formed the unique Midnight Collection, unveiled by De Beers in 1999. Intensely coloured blue diamonds are incredibly rare and very few have such a pure, saturated colour. The blue colour is due to minuscule amounts of the element boron.

This is the first time these nine extraordinary stones have been displayed together.

The Aurora Collection – a set of 296 naturally coloured diamonds totalling a staggering 267.45 carats – is on loan from New York diamond collectors Alan Bronstein and Harry Rodman and displayed for the first time in Europe. This collection of exceptionally rare stones examples from the 12 colour varieties and reveals an enchanting spectrum from emerald green to blood red.

Mogul treasures, including the Shah Jahan table-cut diamond, are among the fascinating historic pieces on display once owned by the rich and powerful. Along with the George III Garter Star and Queen Victoria’s Lesser George (on loan from the Royal Collection), they celebrate our love affair with diamonds that spans at least 4,000 years. Also of great historical significance is the Eureka diamond, a 10.73-carat brilliant, cut from the first authenticated diamond found in South Africa, in 1866. It will be displayed alongside the Star of South Africa, a 47.69-carat old style pear-shaped diamond found in 1869. This stone is credited with starting the “diamond rush” in South Africa in the late nineteenth century. 

Spectacular items worn by celebrities, including Scott Henshall’s revealing Spiderman dress, worn by Samantha Mumba to steal the limelight at the premiere of the film Spiderman II, show the unrivalled glamour of diamonds on the red carpet. R&B star Usher’s watch, which features his face in coloured diamonds, has also been confirmed for the exhibition. Renowned jeweller Mouawad has loaned the pink and white diamond heart-shaped purse presented to Nicole Kidman by Robbie Williams in the video for their duet Somethin’ Stupid.

Every diamond is unique and some are older than the stars. This exhibition reveals diamonds as one of nature’s great miracles. Formed from humble carbon and transformed by colossal pressure and incredibly high temperatures, diamonds remained hidden deep beneath the Earth’s crust for billions of years until powerful volcanic forces and molten rock carried them to the surface. Only a small number of diamonds survived this remarkable journey. Just a tiny proportion of these are of the size and quality to be cut, polished and set into jewellery.

Ends

Visitor information
Admission
: £9, £6 concessions, Family (up to five, minimum one adult) £24, FREE to under 5s
Venue: the Natural History Museum
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10.00–17.50, Sunday 11.00–17.50
Ticket booking: www.nhm.ac.uk/diamonds or 0870 013 0731

Notes for editors

  • Winner of the 2004 Large Visitor Attraction of the Year award, the Natural History Museum is also a world-leading science research centre. Through its collections and scientific expertise, the Museum is helping to conserve the extraordinary richness and diversity of the natural world with groundbreaking projects in 68 countries. The Museum is committed to encouraging public engagement with science. This has been greatly enhanced by the Darwin Centre, a major new initiative that offers visitors unique access behind the scenes of the Museum. Phase One of the project opened to the public in 2002 and Phase Two is scheduled to open in 2008.
  • With seven decades of expertise in the diamond industry, Steinmetz has interests ranging from cutting, polishing and manufacturing, jewellery and e-tail. Known for its unique approach to marketing, the group has promoted the glamour of diamonds at various events such as the Oscars, the Baftas, the Smithsonian Institute of Natural History and the Monaco Grand Prix. Steinmetz has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, with offices around the world. Two of the most famous diamonds created by Steinmetz are the 203.04-carat internally flawless De Beers Millennium Star and the Steinmetz Pink – a 59.60-carat flawless fancy vivid pink diamond. www.steinmetz-group.com
    The Diamond Trading Company (DTC) is the sales and marketing arm of the De Beers Group. DTC is the largest source of rough diamonds, handling approximately half the world’s supply. Recognised around the world by its famous advertising promise ‘A Diamond is Forever’, DTC has a passion and commitment to diamonds and to consumers. As part of the De Beers Group, DTC is involved in the life of a diamond from the moment it is discovered in the earth. It uses its 115 years of diamond expertise and marketing knowledge to help consumers feel more confident when making their diamond purchase. In addition, the DTC has developed significant initiatives to improve the diamond industry’s standards of operation, ensuring ethical and professional practices are upheld at all times, and that there is a lasting contribution to the communities in which they operate.

For further information please contact:
Sarah Hoyle, Alison Enticknap or Becky Chetley
Tel: 020 7942 5654