When Beyoncé appeared alongside her husband, Jay-Z, in the Tiffany & Co. About Love campaign last year, she became only the fourth woman in history to wear the stunning 128.54 carat ‘Tiffany Diamond’. Her appearance ignited an abundance of new interest in the sunny jewel.
Acquired by Tiffany & Co. founder Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1877, the 287.42 carat rough stone was cut to enhance its radiant colour rather than for size. The finished diamond sparkles as if lit by an inner flame and on its rare public appearances garners headlines around the globe. Originally worn by Mrs E Sheldon Whitehouse to the 1957 Tiffany Ball, it was mounted for the occasion in a surround of white diamonds. Subsequently, it was reset in the now iconic Ribbon Rosette necklace by Jean Schlumberger and most famously worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 promotional photographs for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. While it never graced the neck of Audrey Hepburn in the film, its brief appearance during Holly Golightly’s trip to Tiffany’s was iconic: “It isn’t that I give a hoot about jewellery – except diamonds, of course…[spotting the necklace]…like that!” The necklace was later modified again for Lady Gaga to wear to the 2019 Academy Awards and remained in the same elegant setting for Beyoncé’s About Love campaign.
Natural yellow diamonds are scarce and extremely valuable. Even the major jewellery houses rarely create collections centred around yellow diamonds, as sourcing these special stones is so challenging. Like other high-end items, yellow diamonds, especially larger ones and those with a high colour intensity, are a lot harder to come by. The yellow diamond’s unique colour comes from the presence of nitrogen in their composition. The nitrogen molecules absorb blue light, making the stone a yellow shade. Depending on the amount of nitrogen, a yellow diamond could range from light to dark. Different chemicals present during the diamond’s formation result in additional colours, such as the common brown or orange tint found with yellow diamonds. Due to the natural process necessary for a diamond to have a deep, intense yellow colour, these diamonds are very rare indeed.
So which cut is favoured for these cheerful gems? World-renowned gemmologist, Peter Schneirla, whose experience includes working as the Chief Gemmologist at Tiffany & Co. and Director of Education at the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) recently explained to 1stDibs, “The popularity of yellow diamonds surged after the invention of the radiant cut in 1977. All of the facets on the shape, which range from sixty-six to seventy, and the depth of it mean that light travels around within the stone and comes back to the eye looking more saturated.” Cushion and oval cuts are similarly preferred for the same reason.
The love for these bright and optimistic gems appears not to be fleeting or bound to a fashion season but is timeless, spanning generations. Zendaya, 25, revealed in British Vogue’s October 2021 cover story that she had splurged on a yellow diamond ring by Bulgari, which writer Marisa Meltzer estimated to be “at least five carats, maybe six.” The Dune and Euphoria actress divulged “This is my splurge, my treat-myself. It feels like it’s gonna be an heirloom, like one day I can give it to my grandchildren.”
CHRISTEL REID / Important Jewels Consultant
Banner Image: A Magnificent 41.7-carat Fancy Yellow Diamond Ring | $1,500,000 – 2,000,000