Valentine’s Day is this Friday, so we’ve decided to kick off the week with a close-up look at one of the most famous — and romantic — diamonds of all time. It’s the remarkable 30.62-carat “Blue Heart Diamond,” a gemstone so special that it has lived on four continents and now has a permanent residence at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
A heart-shaped diamond has always been the ultimate symbol of love and romance. Whether mounted in an engagement ring or pendant, the heartfelt message to the lucky recipient on Valentine’s Day is powerful and crystal clear.
Discovered in 1908 at South Africa’s legendary Premier Mine (now known as the Cullinan Diamond Mine), the Blue Heart Diamond started as a 100.5-carat rough stone. It was cut into a heart shape by Parisian jeweler Atanik Eknayan in 1910 and purchased by Pierre Cartier that same year.
According to the Smithsonian, Cartier set the lively blue diamond in a lily-of-the-valley brooch and sold the piece to Mrs. Unzue of Argentina in 1911. Van Cleef & Arpels purchased the diamond in 1953, reset it as a pendant and sold it to a European family that same year.
In 1959, Harry Winston obtained the stone and mounted it into a platinum ring. The setting included 25 round brilliant-cut colorless diamonds. American socialite and founder of General Foods Marjorie Merriweather Post purchased the ring in 1960 and gifted it to the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection in 1964.
The Gemological Institute of American graded the Blue Heart as a natural fancy deep blue diamond with a clarity grade of VS2. The stone measures 20.01 mm wide, 19.99 mm tall and 11.89 mm deep. At 30.62 carats, the Blue Heart Diamond is the 11th largest blue diamond in the world and the largest blue diamond ever cut into a heart shape.
Historically, there has been some confusion about the origin of the Blue Heart Diamond. Some accounts say that it was once known as the “Eugenie Blue” and owned by Empress Eugenie of France. These claims don’t hold water because the empress died in 1870, 38 years before the diamond was discovered.
The GIA offered these tips when choosing a heart-shaped diamond: If the wearer has an active lifestyle, but sure to pick a diamond that is mounted with a V-shaped prong at the point to prevent chipping. Choose a stone that is nicely proportioned with both lobes of the heart the same size.
Photos by Chip Clark.