Treasured Stories Behind World’s Most Expensive Jewels

by Yvette in Comment — Updated November 9, 2023

I’ve always viewed jewelry as more than just a fashion accessory.

From ancient civilizations to modern-day society, precious stones had the unique ability to transcend ages and cultures, standing as symbols of power and wealth and records of craftsmanship.

There’s definitely more to them than just carats – honestly, sometimes it seems like they hold the weight of history.

And if you stick around, this article will give you a glimpse into the most expensive jewelry in the world – some of which might make your jaw drop!

Diamond ring with blue and white diamonds

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Key Takeaway

  • The article covers the most expensive and famous diamonds like Koh-I-Noor, Hope Diamond, Pink Star, and Oppenheimer Blue.
  • It also highlights luxury pieces of jewelry like the Hutton-Mdivani necklace, Peacock brooch, and L’Incomparable diamond necklace.
  • Many gems have long, intriguing histories, passing through royal hands over centuries.
  • Colored diamonds like pink, blue, and green are especially rare and drive high prices at auction.
  • Top jewelry houses like Cartier, Harry Winston, and Graff have handled or owned many of the pieces.
  • The high values stem from large carat sizes, rare colors, flawless clarity, and record sales prices.
  • While unattainable for most, these iconic jewels represent master craftsmanship and are important cultural heritage pieces.

8 Most Famous Diamonds in the World

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, right?

Well, if that’s the case – and I’m sure Marilyn Monroe wouldn’t lie about it – here’s a look at some of the world’s most valuable gems!

Koh-I-Noor Diamond

Koh-I-Noor diamond

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First on the list is the Koh-I-Noor, one of the largest cut diamonds in the world. The name “Mountain of Light” says a lot.

The colorless 105.6-carat stone has been a part of the British Crown Jewels since 1849, but its history actually spans centuries and is riddled with controversies.

Its true value remains unknown, although some diamond experts speculate it might be worth up to $400 million.

The Hope Diamond

Hope Diamond on display at Smithsonian Museum

The Hope Diamond is easily one of the most famous blue diamonds in the world – and it’s one of the most expensive ones, with an estimated worth of $250 million.

The fancy deep blue diamond was uncovered in an Indian mine in the 17th century and was acquired by King Louis XIV in 1668.

Over the years, it made its way into the hands of Henry Philip Hope and, eventually, Pierre Cartier.

Some even believed it was cursed!

Finally, Harry Winston gifted the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institute.

It remains a part of the permanent collection in the National Museum of Natural History.

The Pink Star Diamond

Fancy Vivid Pink diamond named the Pink Star

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Formerly known as the Steinmetz Pink, De Beers mined this pink diamond in South Africa in 1999.

The fancy, vivid pink diamond weighed 132.5 carats in the rough.

It took nearly two years to cut it to the 59.60-carat gem we know today as the Pink Star.

In 2017, Sotheby’s sold the Pink Star at a Hong Kong auction for a remarkable $71.2 million – over twice its estimated value.

This sale instantly established a new record for the highest price per carat achieved for any jewel at an auction.

That’s not the only record this pink diamond holds, though.

It is also the largest gem ever to be rated as a Vivid Pink diamond by the Gemological Institute of America.

The Oppenheimer Blue Diamond

Fancy vivid blue diamond set in a ring

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The trace amounts of boron within the diamond’s crystal lattice is the simple but rarely seen recipe behind blue diamonds.

It’s no wonder many consider them a pure coincidence – flukes of nature, if you will.

So, when one does appear, it instantly becomes legendary.

The Oppenheimer Blue is a 14.62-carat vivid blue diamond and another perfect example.

This emerald-cut gem was sold for $57.5 million, beating the Blue Moon!

The Zoe Diamond

Vivid blue diamond named "Zoe"

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Many of these expensive jewels have a rich history, and their origins and date of discovery are typically well-known, but the same cannot be said about the Zoe Diamond.

In fact, there’s very little information about this fancy vivid blue diamond.

It’s veiled in mystery – which, I think, adds to its charm.

The pear-shaped 9.75-carat vivid blue diamond was once owned by Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and was sold at auction in 2014 after her passing.

It was acquired by Hong Kong tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-Hung for over $32.6 million, and he named it after his daughter Zoe.

The Blue Moon of Josephine

Blue Moon Diamond

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Remember what I said earlier: blue diamonds are incredibly rare.

So, the mere fact that this list contains not one but four blue gems is mind-blowing.

Joseph Lau – the same Hong Kong businessman who bought the Zoe Diamond in 2014 – spent a record-breaking $48.4 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Geneva only a year later, in 2015.

The 12.03-carat gem was a gift for his younger daughter, who was only seven at the time, and was promptly renamed “Blue Moon of Josephine” after her.

The Graff Pink Diamond

The Graff Pink diamond set in a platinum ring

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This exceptional gem has been a part of Harry Winston’s private collection for over 60 years.

However, it was purchased by Laurence Graff – where the pink diamond’s current name, “Graff Pink,” comes from – at Sotheby’s auction in Geneva in 2010.

The diamond was sold for $46 million, which, at the time, was the new record for the most expensive jewel sold at auction.

It’s not just the sheer size of the diamond. The gem weighed 24.78 carats at the time, contributing to its value.

The Gemological Institute of America assessed it as a Type IIa diamond, meaning it belongs to the top 2% of the world’s diamonds.

The Aurora Green Diamond

Aurora Green diamond

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Pure green diamonds, the rarest among fancy-colored diamonds, are a remarkable natural phenomenon, with their color originating from radiation exposure.

While most lose their green hue after cutting and polishing, a select few retain their vivid green color, significantly increasing their value.

In 2016, the Aurora Green, one of the world’s most renowned green diamonds, made history by becoming the largest vivid green diamond ever sold at an auction.

The price? To put it into perspective, an astonishing $16.8 million equates to $3.3 million per carat.

Most Expensive Jewelry in the World: Necklaces, Earrings, Rings & More

Celine Dion wearing The Heart of the Ocean

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When you think of the world’s most famous jewelry pieces, your mind probably jumps to The Heart of the Ocean, right?

The iconic necklace featured in the movie Titanic was designed by Harry Winston and turned out to be one of the most famous necklaces in popular culture.

But as you’re about to see, it’s far from the only one!

The Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace

Jadeite necklace belonged to Princess Nina Mdivani

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The Hutton-Mdivani necklace was commissioned by Franklyn Laws Hutton in 1933 as a wedding gift for his daughter, Barbara Hutton, who married Alexis Mdivani.

The necklace, as you can probably tell, bears the name of the couple and was a part of the family’s collection for nearly five decades.

It was sold for $27.4 million at a 2014 auction – and is currently a part of the Cartier Collection.

What makes the Hutton Mdivani Jadeite necklace so valuable?

Generally speaking, high-quality jade does not yield beads with a diameter of more than 10 millimeters.

And yet, the 27 graduated jadeite beads that make up the necklace – all carved from the same boulder – measure more than 15 millimeters in diameter.

Now, add the elaborate ruby and diamond-studded gold clasp into the mix – and, well, you get the idea. This valuable necklace is a true rarity.

The Peacock Brooch

Peacock Brooch designed by Graff Diamonds

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From beetles and butterflies to birds and serpents, animals have always been a source of inspiration for jewelers. Laurence Graff, a renowned English jeweler and the founder of Graff Diamonds nicknamed the King of Diamonds, embraced the motif of birds in the Peacock Brooch.

This spectacular piece of jewelry is adorned with 1,305 diamonds with a combined weight of 120 carats – and features a pear-shaped, 20.02-carat fancy deep blue diamond as its centerpiece.

It was designed by Graff Diamonds and unveiled at the TEFAF fair in 2013. The price tag?

A jaw-dropping $100 million!

The L’Incomparable Diamond Necklace

L'Incomparable necklace on display

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With a total weight of 637 carats – and an estimated value of $55 million – the L’Incomparable sets the record as the most expensive diamond necklace in the world.

One look at this stunning necklace is more than enough to make your jaw drop.

The 18-carat gold necklace contains 91 clear diamonds and a large diamond at the center, about the size of an egg. It’s really deserving of its name – “Incomparable.”

And you know what’s funny?

The center diamond was discovered by pure chance.

Rumor has it that it was found by a young girl in the Democratic Republic of Congo – and in a pile of rubble, no less.

The Chopard 201 Carat Watch

The Chopard 201-carat watch

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You likely know Chopard as a Swiss manufacturer and retailer of luxury watches.

One particular timepiece in the company’s collection takes the term “luxury watch” to a new level. I am, of course, referring to Chopard’s 201-carat watch.

It features 874 individual precious stones set in white and yellow gold and three heart-shaped diamonds at the center that reveal the actual watch.

No wonder it comes with a price tag of $25 million. And what do you know – it also tells time!

The Apollo Blue and Artemis Pink Diamond Earrings

Apollo and Artemis, a pair of pear-shaped diamonds

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I couldn’t possibly put together a list of famous jewelry without mentioning the world’s most expensive earrings.

Yes, I’m talking about “Apollo and Artemis,” now known as The Memory of Autumn Leaves and The Dream of Autumn Leaves.

The two stones are perfectly matched in size and cut.

The Apollo Blue, an exquisite gem showcasing a vivid blue hue, boasts a weight of 14.54 carats. Its counterpart, the Artemis Pink, a stunning pink diamond with an intense hue, tips the scales at 16 carats.

The colored diamond pair set a new record in 2017 at Sotheby’s auction in Geneva, when they were sold for a staggering $57.4 million. How’s that for expensive jewelry?

The Henckel Von Donnersmarck Tiara

The Henckel von Donnersmarck tiara

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I guess one of the perks of being married to one of the richest men in the world is that you occasionally might get a magnificent tiara made up of emeralds and diamonds from your husband.

Katharina Henckel von Donnersmarck would agree with me, I’m sure.

The tiara featured 11 pear-shaped emeralds – supposedly linked to the French Imperial Crown Jewels – totaling roughly 500 carats and resting on a cushion-shaped diamond base.

It was commissioned in the early 1900s by her husband, Count Guido, a member of a German noble family.

Since then, it passed through various hands – before appearing at an auction for the first time in Zurich in 1979.

It was finally sold at a 2011 auction to a private buyer for a whopping $12.7 million.

Cartier Sunrise Ruby Ring

Cushion-shaped brilliant-cut ruby and diamond ring by Cartier

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Did you know that this 25-carat ruby, part of the Cartier collection, actually holds not one but two world records?

It is currently valued at $30.4 million, which makes it the most expensive ruby and colored gemstone in the world.

A Heritage in Bloom

A Heritage in Bloom

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Originally unveiled in 2015, the jade and diamond necklace named “A Heritage in Bloom” quickly became one of the most expensive jewelry pieces ever made.

How expensive, you ask? Well, it’s estimated to be worth roughly $200 million.

Designed by Wallace Chan, a world-famous Hong-Kong-based jeweler, the necklace features a total of – get ready to have your mind blown – 11,551 diamonds with a combined weight of 383.4 carats.

The star of the show is the internally flawless, 104-carat colorless diamond surrounded by jade.

What makes it even more unique is the fact that it can be arranged and worn in 27 different ways, too!


From the Hope Diamond to the Pink Star, the jaw-dropping gems we looked at aren’t your average jewelry.

These gems have stories behind them that go back ages and connect to some seriously iconic moments and people in history.

Even though styles come and go, these legendary jewels have sticking power.

When you see the Hope Diamond, you instantly think “Titanic,” right? And royal crowns wouldn’t be the same without huge diamonds like the Koh-I-Noor.

These over-the-top, crazy expensive pieces aren’t just for flexing – though they definitely do that!

They represent a heritage of master craftsmanship and one-of-a-kind natural treasures.

To be honest, most of us can’t even dream of owning something like the Graff Pink diamond.

But we can still gawk at them and appreciate their history – like famous paintings in museums that blow your mind.

So next time you see a blinging celebrity rocking rare diamonds and rubies, remember they’re continuing a longtime love affair humans have had with shiny, gorgeous gems.

Diamonds are forever, and so are these iconic jewels!

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