The Premier Rose Diamond

The Cullinan Diamond’s Younger Cousin

The Premier Rose Diamond is a relatively recent find in the gemstone world. The magnificent gemstone comes from the same mines where the legendary Cullinan Diamond was unearthed. Though not close to the Cullinan’s size, the Premier Rose Diamond was a whopping 353.9 carats in its rough form! The mine hid the news of the Premier Rose from the world for two whole months to avoid unkind eyes.

If you’d like to learn more about the Premier Rose Diamond, in this article you will find:

The Premier Rose Diamond
The Premier Rose Diamond
Discovered in
March 1978
Country of Origin
South Africa
Mine of Origin
Premier Mine
Carat Weight
Rough form 353.9 carats
Cut Shapes
  • The Big Rose (Premier Rose): Pear-shaped brilliant cut, 137.02 carats, 189 facets
  • The Little Rose: Pear-shaped, 31.48 carats
  • The Baby Rose: Brilliant-cut, 2.11 carats
FL (Flawless)
Previous Owners
  • De Beers (Premier Mine)
  • Jacob Mouawad
  • William Goldberg Diamond Corporation
  • Anonymous buyer (The Big Rose)
  • Mouawad Company
Current Owner
The Louvre Museum (Mouawad Company sold The Big Rose to an anonymous buyer in 1979)
Estimated Value
$14 million

The Origins of the Premier Rose Diamond

The Premier Rose Diamond was discovered in the Premier Mine in South Africa in March 1978. The Mine is owned by De Beers and has produced many astonishing stones like the Cullinan diamond. 

Another success at the Premier Mine 

Over 750 diamonds, whose weight is greater than 100 carats have been unearthed in the location. The Premier Mine is also the largest and one of the few producers of blue diamonds in the world. Yet another amazing product of the ground below the mine surfaced as The Premier Rose. In its rough form, the diamond weighed 353.9 carats and had a triangular form. Its anatomy led to the stone being falsely labeled as a cleavage piece although the gem did not exhibit any signs of cleavage. The stone was still very impressive and promised a lot of potentials. However, it still had to go through the usual route of gems in the Premier Mine. The protocol entailed that it went through every stage of the mining process until it arrived at the ultimate test – the grease table. A grease table is a tool used by most mines to determine whether an uncovered stone is a diamond or not because diamonds have a unique quality – they are the only known mineral that sticks to grease. Once it has been confirmed that the unearthed piece is a diamond, it is sent for cleaning. 

The Premier Rose Diamond Draws the Attention of the Media

The Premier Rose Diamond was kept secret for two months. After its announcement to the world, the gem received a lot of media attention. The stone’s coverage resulted in a lot of speculation about potential buyers. Prince Rainier of Monaco was mentioned often as the media presumed he was keen on acquiring the diamond for his daughter, Princess Caroline, who was expected to marry soon. However, the Prince quickly dismantled these rumors. Allegedly, there was interest from another European royal family but they remained anonymous. The media even included the self-proclaimed King of the Central African Republic, Emperor Bokassa as a potential buyer. Ultimately speculation proved to be fruitless but showed how special and coveted the Premier Rose Diamond was. In the end, through a partnership with William Goldberg of New York City, it was purchased by Mouawad Diamond Cutting Company in Johannesburg.

The Cutting of the Premier Rose Diamond

The Premier Rose Diamond was 353.9 carats in its rough form. It was cut into three stones – the Big Rose (which retained the name ‘Premier Rose’) at 137.02 carats, the Little Rose at 31.48 carats, and Baby Rose at 2.11 carats. The three diamonds together are referred to as ‘The Premier Rose Family’.

The Risky Undertaking of the Premier Rose Diamond’s Cutting

The cutting of the rough stone was done in South Africa by a team of experts from the Mouawad Diamond Cutting Company. They were very careful about their plans with the diamond. Around 60 prototypes and plastic copies of the Premier Rose were initially done to determine what the best way to cut the stone would be. The team wanted to retain as much of its mass as possible and the verdict was that the diamond was to be sawed against its grain. An operation like this is extremely risky, even by today’s standards and it had never been attempted on a stone of this size. Sylvain Mouawad and Jacques Mouawad cleaved the lesser half of the diamond. On the other hand, it took Frans Swanepoel and his team 385 hours to emerge victoriously from the ordeal that was the sawing of the diamond. 

The Mouawad Diamond Cutting Team

After the sawing is completed, what follows is the shaping process. The Big Rose (The Premier Rose Diamond) was cut in a pear shape and remained at an impressive 137.02 carats with 189 facets; the Little Rose was cut into a 31.48-carat pear-shaped jewel, and last, but not least, the Baby Rose was cut into a brilliant-shape diamond that weighed 2.11 carats. 

David du Plessis is the one who worked on polishing the Big Rose and the Little Rose. Du Plessis was a famous polisher in the 1970s. He was a respected individual in the industry, known for polishing the Golden Jubilee Diamond and for having taken part in the polishing team for the Centenary Diamond too. The quality of the finished jewels attests to Du Plessis’ professional rigor.

Mike Botha and Willem Joubert worked on the polishing of the Baby Rose, they were both experienced professionals with many years of trajectory supporting their reputation Furthermore, both had international work experience in countries leading the diamond industry. They worked on two 100-carat diamonds and one 314-carat diamond in Canada. These are the biggest stones ever cut and polished in Canada to this day. 

The Ownership History of the Premier Rose Diamond

The Premier Rose attracted a lot of media attention after its discovery, which in turn, led to the spreading lot of rumors circled about potential buyers. Ultimately, the Premier Rose was purchased by the Mouawad Diamond Cutting Company. 

Jacob Mouawad acquires the stone

The firm’s owner was Jacob Mouawad who was heavily involved in the buy. Jacob’s wife, Rose Mouawad is the one who advocated for the bisection of the gemstone. The jewel’s name is a combination of her name and the mine’s name, hence Premier Rose. The Mouawads managed to buy the diamond from De Beers for an undisclosed amount. 

They contacted their American partner William Goldberg. Goldberg became instantly interested in the Premier Rose. He decided to purchase an equal share in it as well. He knew the potential the rough stone had. Once he saw the gem for himself, he knew he was right. He also had a lot of trust in his partners from Mouawad.

The William Goldberg Diamond Corporation of New York handled the sale of the Premier Rose Family after they acquired it from Mouawad. The Big Rose was sold to an anonymous buyer in 1979 for $10 million. The sales of the Little Rose and the Baby Rose followed soon after this. The estimated value of the Premier Rose Diamond nowadays is $14 million.

The Mouawad Company’s Collection of Historical Gemstones

Throughout the years, Mouawad has proved itself as a company, it is renowned for the acquisition of iconic diamonds with large historical significance. These include the Jubilee Diamond which weighs 245.35 carats (est. value $4-12 million), The Star of Stanley Ho Grand Lisboa, Macau which weighs 218.08 carats (est. value over $100 million), The Excelsior Diamond which weighs 69.68 carats (est. value over $5 million), the Queen of Holland Diamond which weighs 135.92 carats (est. value over $15 million) and many others. 

The Technical Characteristics of the Premier Rose Diamond

The GIA Grades of the Premier Rose Diamond

The Premier Rose Diamond weighed 353.9 carats in its rough form. The Big Rose, which has retained the homonymous name was cut down to 137.02 carats with 189 facets in a pear form. It roughly measures 43.40 by 23.20 by 18.93 mm. The diamond is rated FL by the Gemology Institute of America (GIA). This is the highest clarity grade given by the GIA and is awarded very rarely. The Premier Rose also has a D-color grade. This means the gem is completely colorless. It is a type IIa diamond. Those are stones that have undetectable amounts of nitrogen in them or are completely nitrogen-free. There are no plastic deformations to such gems, making them perfectly formed.

The Rarity of the Premier Rose Diamond

Diamonds of the IIa type are structurally perfect and considered chemically pure. All of these factors contribute to them being colorless, which in return deems them the purest form of diamonds out there. They make up roughly 2% of naturally occurring diamonds. Similar jewels of such characteristics are the Cullinan Diamond, the Centenary Diamond, and the Millenium Star Diamond. The Premier Rose Diamond (The Big Rose) is the 11th biggest D-color diamond in the world. However, it is the 3rd biggest D-color diamond in the world that has a pear shape.

The Significance of the Premier Rose Diamond

The Premier Rose Diamond was yet another brilliant find for Premier Mine. Its technical characteristics make it a very rare discovery. It comes from a line of famous gemstones uncovered on the premises. The Cullinan Diamond (3,106.75 carats), of course, but also the Niarchos Diamond (discovered in 1959, 128.25 carats, est. value over $19 million) and the Taylor-Burton Diamond (discovered in 1966, 68 carats, est. value $3 million). The precision of the work carried out on the Premier Rose Diamond Family is impressive. This is why they rank as some of the finest polished diamonds in the world. They have become the gemstone by which the quality of symmetry and proportions for large fancy cut diamonds are determined. The Premier Rose Diamond’s history is still in the making. Hopefully, it will reemerge from anonymity and become available for the public to see once again.

We hope you enjoyed the read!

If you’d like to read about other famous diamonds like the OrlovEureka, or Premier Rose diamonds, you can visit Ajediam’s Famous Diamonds glossary. Or, if you’re feeling inspired, you can browse Ajediam’s premium diamond collections shop.