Unless you’ve been living under a rock, by now you’ve probably seen the massive Tiffany yellow diamond that Lady Gaga wore this past weekend at the 2019 Academy Awards. Besides it’s tremendous size and sparkle, this diamond has a vibrant history dating back to its discovery in 1877. The diamond was last worn by Audrey Hepburn in 1961 during a promotional photo shoot for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and has spent the interim displayed on the Main Floor of Tiffany & Co.’s flagship Fifth Avenue store. For those who tuned in to the Academy Awards, it was impossible not to notice the beautiful, grand diamond around Gaga’s neck, and the buzz it instantly generated. With so much talk and interest in the spectacular Tiffany yellow diamond, we thought it would be fitting to take a closer look at how it came to be the legendary jewel that it is today.
History of the Tiffany Diamond
The Tiffany yellow diamond was originally discovered in South Africa in 1877, and weighed an astonishing 287.42 carats in its rough form. Just one year later, Charles Lewis Tiffany secured the diamond for a mere $18,000, far less than its current estimated worth of $30 million. The stone traveled back to Paris where Tiffany & Co.’s renowned gemologist, Dr. George Frederick Kunz, oversaw the cutting of the diamond into a radiant, cushion-shaped gem with some impressive specs. The cut and polished finished product weighs in at 128.54 carats and boasts 82 extraordinary facets that amplify its beauty and rich color. The Tiffany yellow diamond has become somewhat of an American treasure, and has traveled around the world for various exhibitions and showcases. Lady Gaga is one of only three women who’ve had the privilege of wearing this exquisite and elusive gemstone for a public event. The first was Mrs. Mary Whitehouse, the wife of an American diplomat, who wore the jewel to the 1957 Tiffany Ball in Rhode Island. Just four years later, the diamond was set in Jean Schlumberger’s Ribbon Rosette necklace, and worn by Hollywood starlet Audrey Hepburn while promoting her film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Is the Tiffany Yellow Diamond for Sale?
Though the Tiffany yellow diamond is not presently for sale, and likely never will be, this wasn’t always the case. In 1972, Tiffany & Co. placed an ad in the New York Times, offering the diamond for sale for $5 million, the equivalent of nearly $26 million in today’s dollars. The catch? The diamond would only be available for 24 hours, so anyone interested had to act fast. As you might imagine, there were no serious buyers, and the diamond became a permanent part of the brand’s jewelry archives.
The 175th Anniversary Tiffany Diamond Necklace
In 2012, Tiffany & Co. celebrated 175 years as a leader in fine jewelry. To mark the occasion, the Tiffany yellow diamond was reset in a breathtaking necklace with over 100 carats of glittering white diamonds. This same necklace was fitted for Lady Gaga to wear to the 2019 Oscars, where she channeled her inner Audrey in an elegant, black Alexander McQueen gown and glamorous gloves. She tied the look together with white and yellow diamond drop earrings that perfectly matched her necklace. Prior to the Tiffany Diamond’s red-carpet debut, the most expensive jewel ever worn to the Oscars was the blue Harry Winston diamond necklace that was modeled after the Titanic’s Heart of the Ocean, which was estimated to be worth $20 million.
Shop Tiffany & Co. and more at Leo Hamel’s
Though you may not be able to score the Tiffany Diamond for yourself, there’s a wealth of other Tiffany jewels to ogle over and enjoy. At Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers in San Diego, we carry a selection of vintage Tiffany jewelry from beloved collections like the Elsa Peretti Open Heart collection, or the Atlas collection. Searching for something special? Let us know what you’re looking for, and we can help you find it! Because we buy jewelry in addition to selling, we are always receiving new, one-of-a-kind items to fill our showroom. Stop by our store today to explore all that we have to offer!
* All images courtesy of The Adventurine