Star of South Africa (diamond)

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Star of South Africa
Dudley Diamond
Weight47.69 carats (9.538 g)
Country of originCape Colony
Original ownera Griqua shepherd, then Schalk van Niekerk

The Star of South Africa, also known as the Dudley Diamond, is a 47.69-carat (9.538 g) white diamond found by a Griqua shepherd in 1869 on the banks of the Orange River. The original stone, before cutting, weighed 83.5 carats (16.70 g).[1] The finding of this large diamond led to diamond prospectors coming to the area, culminating in the July 1871 rush to the nearby new diamond field at Colesberg Koppje, soon known as New Rush, and later to be known as Kimberley.

The shepherd sold the stone for the hefty price of 500 sheep, 10 oxen and a horse to Schalk van Niekerk, a neighbouring farmer locally famous for having acquired a 21-and-a-quarter carat diamond in 1866 after it was found by a 15-year-old boy, Erasmus Jacobs, which he had sold for a good price.[2][3]

Van Niekerk sold the stone on to the Lilienfield Brothers in Hopetown for £11,200 ( £1,363,334 in 2020 pounds).[4] The Lilienfield Brothers sent it to England where it changed hands twice before finally being bought by the Countess of Dudley for £25,000.[5][6] William Ward, the Earl of Dudley, had it mounted with 95 smaller diamonds in a head ornament.[5]

The diamond stayed in the earl's estate until 2 May 1974 when it was sold on auction in Geneva for 1.6 million Swiss Francs, equivalent to around £225,300 (equivalent to £2,497,910 in 2021),[7] at the time.

It was last seen[8] in public at the vault of the Natural History Museum London, 8 July 2005 – 26 February 2006. A reproduction of the uncut and cut diamond is still on show there.

The diamond may have inspired Jules Verne's 1884 novel The Southern Star.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roberts, Brian (1976). Kimberley: turbulent city. New Africa Books. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-949968-62-3.
  2. ^ Doughty, Oswald (1963). Early Diamond Days: The Opening of the Diamond Fields of South Africa. London: Longmans, Green and Co Ltd.
  3. ^ Roberts, Brian (1976). Kimberley: turbulent city. New Africa Books. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-949968-62-3.
  4. ^ "Inflation calculator".
  5. ^ a b Streeter, Edwin William, Hatten, Joseph & Keane, Augustus Henry (1882). The great diamonds of the world. Their history and romance. London, G. Bell & Sons. p. 241. Retrieved 2009-07-25.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Williams, Gardner Fred (1904). The diamond mines of South Africa. New York, B. F. Buck & company. p. 123. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
  7. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  8. ^ "Diamonds Star line-up". Natural History Museum, London. 2005-07-07. Retrieved 2014-01-26.