The Centenary Diamond was discovered in the Premier Mine on July 17, 1986 using their X-ray imaging system. The original rough was 599 carats (119.8 g) and it was presented on May 11, 1988 in the Centennial Celebration of the De Beers Consolidated Mines. As then-chairman Julian Oglivie Thompson said, "We have recovered at the Premier Mine a diamond of 599 carats (119.8 g) which is perfect in color - indeed it is one of the largest top-color diamonds ever found. Naturally it will be called the Centenary Diamond."
Cutting such an immense and valuable diamond required expertise and a considerable investment. Gabi Tolkowsky was chosen to head the team responsible for cutting the Centenary Diamond, along with Geoff Woolett, Jim Nash and Dawie du Plessis, assisted by a specially picked group of engineers, electricians and security guards to facilitate in the work on Centenary Diamond. There was a special room designed underground in the De Beers Diamond Research Laboratory in Johannesburg, South Africa for the sole purpose of working on the Centenary Diamond with design specifications including strength and stability so as to preclude mechanical vibration and temperature variation to minimize any mitigating factor that might interfere with the cutting of the Centenary Diamond.
The Centenary was completed in February 1991, weighing 273.85 carats (54.770 g) with its dimensions measuring 39.90 x 50.50 x 24.55 mm. The final gem had 247 facets: 164 on the stone proper and 83 on the girdle. While the stone has never been publicly appraised for value, it is known to have been insured at over US$100 million at the time of its unveiling in May 1991. The stone was loaned to the Tower of London, where it was displayed for a number of years. It is believed that De Beers no longer owns the Centenary, but the current owner is unknown. Gabi Tolkowsky has said that he believes that the gem has been sold and De Beers declines comment, citing its anonymity policy.