Dubbed "The Crown," the commemorative coin is made from 8 pounds of gold and over 6,400 diamonds.
Made from almost 8 pounds of gold and some 6,426 diamonds, a new coin honouring the life of Queen Elizabeth II may be “among the most valuable coins of all time.”
In fact, the creator of this one-off luxury object has valued it at “more than £18 million”.
Unveiled days before the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s death, the commemorative coin as a whole is not considered legal tender in the UK (although the denominations of coins contained within the design are). It was produced by the East India Company, a luxury lifestyle brand with rights to the name of the corporation that once controlled large swathes of Britain’s empire.
It is explained on the East Inia Company website, “Today our legal tender coins are issued in partnership with and under the authority of the Government of St Helena. Continuing the privilege granted by William IV nearly 200 years ago, in 2012 The East India Company coins first carried the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as we embarked on a new modern period of history for The Company.”
The £18 million ‘Crown’ is a work of art, not a coin. Although some of the ten gold coins set in the bed of diamonds might be legal tender coins.
Dubbed “The Crown”, in a press release, the company described its creation as an “objet d’art.” The current Guinness World Record for the most expensive coin ever to sell at auction is held by a rare 1933 US “Double Eagle” that fetched £15 million at Sotheby’s New York in June 2021.
Businessman Sanjiv Mehta, who acquired the rights to the East India Company in 2005, poses with the diamond-encrusted coin.
The coin has a diameter of over 9.6 inches, making it wider than an NBA-regulation basketball and its design comprises ten 24-carat gold coins nestled in beds of diamonds.
The centre coin weighs over 2 pounds, while the smaller ones around it each weigh 1 ounce and feature either portraits of the late monarch or depictions of virtues including truth, justice and courage.
On one side, thousands of diamonds have been arranged to resemble the UK’s flag, while the setting of the reverse was inspired by the late queen’s tiaras.
The East India Company said its multi-million-pound valuation was partly due to the quality of the materials and crafting processes, which involved artisans and experts from the UK, India, Singapore, Germany and Sri Lanka.
The original East India Company operated for almost 300 years before its dissolution in 1874. Indian-born businessman Sanjiv Mehta acquired the rights to name — and the accompanying coat of arms — in 2005 before relaunching it as a lifestyle brand five years later.
The coin's obverse side features a 24-carat gold centre coin sat in a bed of diamonds resembling the UK's flag.
His modern reincarnation sells luxury products including jewellery, homeware and commemorative coins that “capture moments in history for contemporary enthusiasts and future generations to treasure,” according to the company’s website.
“The Crown” took over a year to produce, meaning that it was underway before Queen Elizabeth died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland last September. Produced in partnership with the British Overseas Territory of St Helena, coin designs were fully approved by the territory’s Government as well as by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II prior to her passing in a process managed by the Royal Household and the Royal, Ceremonial and Honours Unit (RCHU) at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Speaking ahead of the unveiling, Mehta said that no expense had been spared honouring Queen Elizabeth, whom he described as “the Queen of the Earth.”
“An average diamond setter can set about four stones in an hour,” said Mehta, whose family business is in the diamond industry. “So, when you’re looking at (around) 6,500 stones on one piece, that’s a huge number of man-hours.”
“The tribute that we’re making to the Queen was not about cutting corners, but celebrating a life,” he added.
Following the 1857 rebellion by its soldiers, the East India Company was dissolved in 1874. For 130 years, the East India Company remained dormant. Now, ironically, the company is owned by an Indian entrepreneur named Sanjiv Mehta. Mehta bought the rights to trade as the East India Company in 2005. The revived East India Company trades in high-value food, teas and coffee. There is also an increasing range of commemorative coins marketed by Mehta’s Rast India company.
It is explained on the East India Company website, “Today our legal tender coins are issued in partnership with and under the authority of the Government of St Helena. Continuing the privilege granted by William IV nearly 200 years ago, in 2012 The East India Company coins first carried the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as we embarked on a new modern period of history for The Company.”