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The Millennium Star

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From the Archives : Originally published August 28th, 2009
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Category : Gems and Treasures





The 777-carat rough diamond that was eventually transformed into the 203.04-carat "Millennium Star" diamond was discovered in the Mbuji-Mayi district of Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo), in 1990.


The discovery set off a gold-rush type of influx of diggers hoping to find a similar stone. But, as it was the only stone of this type found in the present millennium, statistically the odds are against finding another one within the next few hundred years or so.



The 203.04-carat (40.608 g), finished diamond was unnamed until October 1999, when it was unveiled to the world, as the centerpiece of the De Beers Millennium diamond collection, by the Chairman of De Beers Nicky Oppenheimer, who christened the diamond "The Millennium Star."


The Millennium Star is a D-color, pear-shaped, diamond with an internally flawless clarity grade (IF). It is said to be the second largest faceted, D-color, flawless, diamond in the world after the 273.85-carat Centenary Diamond. The Millennium Star is said to be the only diamond in the world that is both internally and externally flawless.



It was purchased by De Beers during the height of the country's Civil War that took place in the early to mid-nineties. It was decided to cut the rough in three pieces. The Millennium Star is the outcome of the largest piece.


The stone was cut perfectly to proportions by Nir Livnat and the other cutters of the famous Steinmetz Diamond Group. This group of experts took about three years to cut and fashion this sparkling gem in a perfect pear shape using lasers. In fact the cutting was so flawless that not even one burn or scratch mark was visible on the facets of the diamond.



It was learned, however, that some 100 plastic models of the original rough were made, and these were almost all used to plan and design the optimum polished stone, both in terms of beauty and weight. The stone's classic pear shape totals 54 facets.



It was first displayed in October 1999 as the centerpiece of the De Beers Millennium diamond collection. The collection also includes eleven blue diamonds totaling 118 carats (23.6 g) and The Heart of Eternity. They were displayed at London’s Millennium Dome over 2000. There was an attempt on November 7, 2000 to steal the collection but the Metropolitan Police discovered the plot and arrested the robbers before their escape.


French actress Sophie Marceau holding the Millennium Star diamond


The Millennium Star is the sixth largest white diamond in the globe. Later in 2003, the Millennium Star was also displayed at the ‘Splendour of Diamonds Exhibition’ that was held at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.





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