Late one afternoon in 1905, the superintendent of the Premier Mine in South Africa, while inspecting the mine on a routine visit, saw something reflected in the sun. He extracted the shiny large crystal and at first thought it must have been a large piece of glass. He had it tested, and was delighted to learn that he had found the largest gem-quality diamond ever discovered. The rough weighed 3106 carats (approximately 1 1/3 pounds). It was named after the man who opened the mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan, visiting on that eventful day. The Cullinan was sold to the Transvaal government, which presented it to King Edward VII on his 66th birthday. It was insured for $1,250,000.00. The cutting of the stone was executed by the famed Asscher’s Diamond Company in Amsterdam. After studying the stone for months, the cutting process began. Mr. Asscher placed a steel cleaver’s blade in a previously prepared V-shaped groove and tapped it once with a heavy steel rod. The blade broke, but the diamond didn’t! The second time, it cleaved exactly as expected (it was reported that Mr. Asscher actually fainted!). A second cleavage in the same direction produced three principal sections which in turn would produce nine major gems, 96 smaller brilliants and 9.50ct of unpolished rough. The nine larger stones remain either in the British Crown Jewels or in the personal possession of the Royal Family.
The Cullinan I through IX
The Cullinan I is also known as the Star of Africa, and weighs 530.20 carats. King Edward placed it in the Sovereign’s Royal Sceptre and it is now on display in the tower of London. It can be removed from the Royal Scepter and worn as a pin or pendant. It is pear shaped and has 76 facets, including the culet and the table. This stone holds the place of the 2nd largest cut diamond in the world.
The Cullinan II is a massive 317.40 carat cushion shaped diamond in the center-front of the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain. It is also in the Tower of London as part of the Crown Jewels. The III is pear-shaped and weighs in at 94.40 carats. It is in the finial of Queen Mary’s Crown and can be worn with the !V as a pendant-brooch. There are many historical photographs of Queen Mary wearing these two stones, and Elizabeth II makes use of them in the same way. The Cullinan IV, a 63.60 carat cushion shape, was originally set in the band of Queen Mary’s Crown, but can also be converted as jewelry (as described above). The Cullinan V is a triangular-pear cut with a weight of 18.80 carats and was originally mounted in a brooch for Queen Mary, to be worn alternately in the circlet of her crown as a replacement for the Koh-i-Noor, which was removed to the new crown that was made for Elizabeth (now the Queen Mother). The VI, an 11.50 carat marquise, was originally presented by King Edward to his wife, Queen Alexandra, and is now worn by Elizabeth II as a drop on a diamond and emerald necklace. It is the Cullinan most worn by the young Queen. The VII is an 8.80carat marquise mounted ina pendant on a small brooch, in the center of which is the 6.80-carat cushion cut Cullinan VIII, and lastly the Cullinan IX is a 4.39 carat pear shape mounted in a ring with a prong setting that was made for Queen Mary.
Written by Wendy Adeler Hall
For more information Contact us.