The Eureka Diamond


A Lucky Diamond Find

The Eureka Diamond does not owe its fame to either great size or outstanding perfection, but to the fact that it is the very first recorded diamond find in South Africa, hence the name Eureka, meaning "I've found it".

The Eureka diamond was first discovered in 1866 by the children of the Jacobs family playing near the Orange River, Hopetown, South Africa. For a while, it was considered merely an attractive pebble for the children to play with - until a neighbour, Schalk van Nierkerk, saw it and suggested it may be a mineral of some merit. He did not, however, think for a moment that it could be a diamond, and as the children's mother felt the same, she gave the diamond to her neighbour, refusing to take any payment at all.


The stone then went on a journey of discovery, as people sought to determine what exactly it was. Nierkerk first took the diamond to John Robert O'Reilly, and from there it was passed to Dr Atherstone. In 1867, Atherstone finally established that the rock was indeed a diamond - the first recorded, authenticated diamond in the history of South Africa! The diamond was reported as being over 21 carats in its natural state, and worth ₤800 - a not insignificant sum in 1867.

Eureka Diamond

A Long Journey Home

The diamond was of such note that it was sent to Queen Victoria for her jewellers to inspect. A replica of the diamond was meanwhile displayed on the South African stand at the 1867 Paris Exhibition.

Over the following century, as is commonly the case with rare and significant diamonds, The Eureka changed hands a good number of times. In 1946, the Eureka was auctioned set in a bangle alongside other large stones, and fetched the princely sum of ₤5,700.

The next notable event was in 1967, 100 years after it was originally found. In this year, De Beers bought the Eureka and gifted it back to the people of South Africa. And as an item of such significant and historical interest, the South African government put The Eureka on display at the Mine Museum, Kimberley, to be enjoyed by visitors and recognised as the humble beginnings of South Africa's phenomenal diamond industry. So, if you want to see South Africa's 'first' diamond - you know where to go!


Dianne is the blog and Customer Services fairy for online jewellery company 1791 Diamonds Limited, proud supplier of New Zealand made, diamond engagement rings.

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