The Centenary

IMG Auteur
From the Archives : Originally published April 24th, 2009
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Category : Gems and Treasures





The Centenary was found on July 17th 1986 in the Premier Mine but brought to light 2 years later. Its discovery was possible due to modern technology and the use of X-ray imaging system.




At its public presentation on March 11th 1988, at the centenary celebrations of De Beers and a banquet was held to close the Kimberly Mine (also known as “The Big Hole"). An audience of four hundred people, including representatives of several national governments of diamond-producing countries and dignitaries from various sections of the industry, listened to the welcoming speech of the chairman, Julian Oglivie Thompson, totally unprepared for his final sentence: “We have recovered at the Premier Mine a diamond of 599 carats (119.8 g) which is perfect in color – indeed it is one of the largest top-color diamonds ever found. Naturally it will be called the Centenary Diamond.”


No more fitting way of celebrating 100 years of achievement by De Beers could have been devise than the discovery of such a diamond and nowhere was it more likely to have been recovered than at the Premier Mine.


Over the years the extraordinary Premier mine has produced several outstanding diamonds of the most superb color, which have been cut into famous gems: The Cullinan in 1905; the Niarchos in 1954; the Taylor-Burton in 1966 and the Premier Rose in 1978


When found in 1986, only a few people knew about the discovery of The Centenary, and were sworn to secrecy.  The rough stone presented many difficulties in polishing it.  One of the most accomplished cutters in the world, Gabi Tolkowsky, was chosen to study and appraise the great stone. 



A special room was designed in the underground of Beers Diamond Research Laboratory in Johannesburg (in South Africa) in order to have the perfect conditions for the cutting task. As a rough stone, After the first cuttings Gabi Tolkowsky decided over the design and then the brilliant Centenary Diamond was given 247 facets. The Centenary Diamond weighted 599 carats but after cutting and polishing became a beautiful 273.85 carat polished diamond gem. It was insured for $100 million at that time but now is said that De Beers is not longer the owner of the amazing diamond and the current owner is unknown.


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