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January 27, 2022

January 26, 1905: The World’s Largest Diamond Is Found in South Africa

On 26 January, 1905 during his routine inspection Frederick made an unexpected discovery changing the world of diamonds. It was on this historical day that he discovered the world’s biggest diamond. The diamond was then named the Cullinan after the owner of the mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan, who was visiting the mine on that particular day. A replica of this marvel can be seen at the Cape Town Diamond Museum. But, what happened to this rough diamond?

Sir Thomas Cullinan at Premier Mine, South Africa in 1905.

After Frederick had made the discovery, the large Cullinan rough diamond was taken to the mine office to be weighed. To everyone’s surprise, the stone weighed in at a whopping 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g) (21.9 ounces), making it the largest diamond ever to be found. Many experts believe that the Cullinan diamond was only a fragment of an even bigger stone that still needed to be discovered. This rumor caused sparks amongst the mining community, who hoped to find the other half of the stone.

The magnificent diamond was insured for R17 million before it was carefully transported to England. Here a Premier London agent named, Sigismund Neumann kept the large diamond for safe keeping. When they transported the large diamond, they had to take extreme measures to keep it safe. The Cullinan was sent in a plain box via parcel post while detectives from London were asked to transport a replica as a decoy publicly. After the Anglo-Boer War, the Transvaal government bought the diamond for R2.4 million. The Cullinan was then presented to King Edward VII of the United Kingdom as a gift of goodwill on his 66th birthday in 1907.

The Cullinan diamond was presented to King Edward VII.

The diamond was then entrusted to I. J. Asscher and Co where it was divided in various large stones. When the famous diamond cutter received the large diamond, he studied it for months. At first, it was difficult to cut the Cullinan, but after months of careful planning, Asscher divided the diamond into nine major stones, ninety-six smaller stones and about 19.5 carats of unpolished diamonds. The two largest diamonds weighing 1,977 carats and 1,040 carats respectively in the rough.

The two larger diamonds, known as the Cullinan I and Cullinan II, were given to King Edward VII. The polished Cullinan I (530.20 carats) is the biggest stone of the nine diamonds and the polished Cullinan II (317.40 carats) the second most significant. Today the stone is also referred to as The Star of Africa (Cullinan I) and The Lesser Star of Africa (Cullinan II).

The Cullinan I diamond, also known as the Star of Africa.

The Cullinan III and Cullinan IV.

Both of these breathtakingly beautiful stones are on display in the Tower of London as part of the Crown Jewels. The Cullinan III is pear-shaped and weighs 94.40 carats. The diamond was originally an ornament on top of Queen Mary’s Crown. Today Queen Elizabeth II can be seen wearing the Cullinan IV as a pendant-brooch.

The Cullinan IV is a cushion shape diamond that weighs 63.60 carats. The stone was previously placed in the band of Queen Mary’s crown, but today it can be seen as the top part of Queen Elizabeth II’s pendant-brooch.

The Cullinan V worn as a brooch by Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth II.

The two largest Cullinan diamonds mounted in the Royal Regalia.

The Cullinan V is a triangular-pear shaped diamond and weighs 18.80 carats. First, it was worn as a brooch by Queen Mary but was then later used in the circlet of her crown as a substitute for the Koh-i-Noor (a famous colorless diamond that was found near Guntur, India). The Koh-i-Noor was utilized in the new crown for Queen Elizabeth in 1937. Today Queen Elizabeth II can be seen wearing it as a brooch.

The large Cullinan diamond that was discovered back in the 1900s has indeed become part of history. Not only is it the largest gem-quality diamond ever discovered, but it’s also part of the world’s most classic jewelry pieces. The Cullinan, in essence, is remarkable and will continue to amaze throughout history.

1 comment:

  1. why did they cut it up? it would have been so much nicer and more impressive to see the entire diamond together




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