The Millennium Star is a unique, pear-shaped diamond owned by De Beers, a South African diamond mining company. It is “reputed to be worth around £200million” and was the target of a high-profile robbery in November 2000.
The Millennium Star is an internally and externally flawless (clarity ) top-colour (‘D’) diamond, weighing 203.04 carats (40.608g). This makes it the “second largest faceted 'D' flawless diamond in the world.” The cut diamond has 54 facets.
It was discovered in “alluvial deposits” in the Mbuji-Mayi district of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). In its rough state, the diamond weighed 777 carats, making it the sixth largest diamond of “gem quality” ever found. It was studied for six months after discovery, before the cutting process commenced. Cut by the Steinmetz Group, it was split in Belgium, polished in South Africa and finished in New York. The process took over three years in total and used laser technology.
The unique diamond has been described as “priceless”, “perfect” and “extremely exceptional”. Businessman Harry Oppenheimer described the Millennium Star as “the most beautiful diamond he had ever seen.”
The Millennium Raid
In late 2000, The Millennium Star, alongside eleven “exceptionally rare” blue diamonds, was displayed in the Millennium Dome, Greenwich, London. On 7th November, a criminal gang consisting of five men attempted to steal the collection of diamonds from the venue. The robbery was “planned professionally and carefully down to the last detail”.
The gang, “[a]rmed with smoke bombs, ammonia and a nail gun”, used a stolen “JCB digger to smash through the perimeter fence and the gates of the Dome”. Four members of the gang then “attempted to smash their way into the display case” containing the diamonds. Their intention was to “escape by speedboat, moored outside on the River Thames”.
However, what would have been “the world's biggest robbery” was foiled by “a massive and meticulous police operation”, codenamed Magician. Utilising extensive surveillance and a force of 200 officers, suspects were arrested in and around the dome by the Metropolitan Police and later convicted.
De Beers has been “careful not to put a value on the Millennium Star, saying that any figure [it] would give would be purely academic”. However, sources refer to the diamond as being worth at least £200 million.
UK newspaper |The London Evening Star allegedly “insured the [Millennium] Star for 100 million English pounds”, although it has been commented that “[t]his is believed to be a fraction of its true worth”. Its rarity and notoriety (particular since the Millennium Dome raid) suggest that such estimates are not necessarily excessive.
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