Made from almost 8 pounds of gold and some 6,426 diamonds, a new coin honoring 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 “around $23 million.”
Unveiled on Monday, 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.
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 $18.9 million at Sotheby’s New York in June 2021.
The coin has a diameter of over 9.6 inches, making it wider than an NBA-regulation basketball and its design comprises almost a dozen 24-carat gold coins nestled in beds of diamonds.
The center 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-dollar 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.
His modern reincarnation sells luxury products including jewelry, 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 to CNN ahead of the unveiling, Mehta said that no expense had been spared honoring 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.
CNN’s Leah Dolan contributed to this report.