What is the Tiffany Diamond?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

The Tiffany Diamond is simply one of the most unique and spectacular diamonds in the world. Not only is it incredibly large, but it is also a rare vivid yellow color. The yellow tone is caused by an unusual absorption of nitrogen during the genesis of the stone. The Tiffany Diamond was discovered in the famous DeBeers Kimberly Mine, which is located in South Africa. At 287.42 carats, the Tiffany Diamond is not only one of the largest diamonds known to man, but it is also the largest diamond of its color.

The Tiffany Diamond was discovered in South Africa.
The Tiffany Diamond was discovered in South Africa.

The famous New York jewelry company, Tiffany & Co., purchased the diamond in 1888, one year after it was unearthed. The raw diamond was then cut in Paris under the expert supervision of the company’s gemologist Dr. George F. Kunz. When the diamond was finished, it had over ninety facets. The cushion shape of the diamond has thirty-two more facets than a traditional brilliant cut diamond; not only is the Tiffany Diamond perfectly massive, but its brilliance has also been maximized by its cut. Although the diamond was a complete marvel to everyone who had seen it or even hear about it, the stone was not set into a piece of jewelry for eight years after it was cut.

The Tiffany Diamond can be viewed in New York City.
The Tiffany Diamond can be viewed in New York City.

Over the years, the famous Tiffany Diamond has traveled the world, been set in different fashions, and exhibited in different museums. Since its discovery, the diamond has been on almost continuous display and has been viewed by millions of people. In 1957, the stone was mounted into a necklace and worm to the Tiffany Ball in Newport. The lucky woman who had the honor to wear the Tiffany Diamond was Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse, the chairwoman of the event.

Although there have been rumors of attempts to buy and sell the Tiffany Diamond over the years, it has not officially exchanged hands since the Fifth Avenue jewelry firm purchased it in the late 1800s. The Tiffany diamond is currently on display at the flagship store in Manhattan. The present setting of the diamond was designed in the 1960's by Jean Schlumberger. The “Bird on a Rock” setting is both quirky and perfectly splendid. In it, a small jewel-encrusted bird perches atop the magnificent Tiffany Diamond. Although the Tiffany Diamond is estimated to be one of the most valuable gems in the world, it is free for anyone to look at as they stroll down Fifth Avenue in New York, New York.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


I just googled a picture of the Tiffany diamond after reading this article, and I am totally in love with it!

Of course, I love pretty much everything by Tiffany's so that's no surprise, (honestly, where can you find better jewelry?), but I think that seeing the Bird on a Rock may have totally swung my love over to art deco diamond fixtures.

I would love to get a three stone diamond necklace with that same 1920s art-deco-y feel. I may have to mosey on over to my local Tiffanys (I live in London, so no bird on a rock there!) and see what I can find...


So what exactly is the whole connection between diamonds and eternity? I mean, I always hear about this, but it just seems so gimmicky to me. I mean, of course every girl wants to be Audrey Hepburn with her Tiffany diamond, but what about all the other beautiful stones out there?

Me, I prefer to give something a little more unique, like a moonstone or a jade. You can get some really quite beautiful non-diamond jewelry, and its a shame to only stick with one style; I think.

Of course, I may get cruficied in replies for this, but seriously, what's so great about a diamond band? I say, get a stone that's really personal to you, and that suits your personality, and you'll look better than you would with any old diamond.


Do you know, I once got the chance to see the Tiffany diamond when I was in New York, and I can tell you, it really is something else.

It's so cool to be able to see something that's such a part of history, but still so accessible to the public.

And it also really reminds you exactly how much of an art jewelry making can really be. I mean, it's easy to think of paintings or sculpture as art, since that's what you grow up learning about, but when you see an antique diamond arranged like that, well, it's just amazing.

I love all kinds of art deco style diamonds, and that really has to be my very favorite.

If you do ever get a chance to go to New York, be sure to go see it. It really is worth the whole trip, in my opinion.

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