Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.
Discovering precious gemstones is something we all dream about. If you like Indiana Jones, you most likely hope that one day you’ll come across a buried diamond.
Some people are lucky enough to discover gemstones. However, this doesn’t automatically mean a happy ending to the story.
Let’s take a look at one of the largest diamonds ever discovered, and the subsequent controversy around such a brilliant diamond.
What is the Cullinan Diamond?
The Cullinan diamond is the biggest diamond ever discovered by humankind. Wikipedia explains that it was discovered in South Africa in 1905 at the Premier No. 2 mine. It was named after the mine’s chairman, Thomas Cullinan.
Less than three months later, the diamond was put up for sale in London. Despite many people being considerably interested in this gemstone, it was left unsold for two years.
There are a total of 9 diamonds that have been cut from the original Cullinan diamond. Cullinan I was named the Great Star of Africa. It is set at the top of the Sovereign’s Sceptre. It remains to this day the largest clear-cut diamond in the world.
The Cullinan II is aptly named the Second Star of Africa and is set in the Imperial State Crown. Unlike the Cullinan I, this diamond has a number of visible flaws, including scratches to the surface.
The ninth Cullinan diamond cut from the original, or Cullinan IX, is the smallest diamond to be cut. It is a stepped pear-cut diamond and can be found in a platinum ring. This ring is called the Cullinan IX ring.
Let’s take a look at the history of the Cullinan diamond.
Cullinan Diamond History and Facts
Captain Frederick Wells was the lucky man to discover this giant diamond in 1905 at the Premier No. 2 mine in South Africa. Worthy explains that he found it during one of his routine daily rounds.
Captain Wells initially didn’t believe his eyes and thought he had simply picked up a shard of glass. This gigantic diamond he had found weighed a whopping 1 and 1/3 pounds.
At the time of its discovery, the Cullinan diamond was twice the size of any diamond that had already been discovered.
As mentioned above, the Cullinan diamond was named after the mine’s chairman, Thomas Cullinan. It was subsequently sold to the Transvaal government.
The price of the Cullinan diamond was put at 150,000 pounds. Because the diamond was considered irreplaceable, the government decided to insure it for ten times its worth.
The Transvaal government was advised to present the Cullinan diamond as a gift to King Edward VII. It was to be considered a bridge of alliance between the Transvaal Colony to the English throne.
A vote was taken, and the results showed that the majority of voters didn’t want it presented as a peace offering. However, Winston Churchill eventually persuaded the King to accept the diamond.
Where is the Cullinan Diamond Now?
Once it was decided that King Edward VII would receive the diamond, he commissioned it to be cut into nine smaller diamonds. Heritage Daily explains that after eight months of extensive work, the Cullinan diamond was cut into nine main pieces and ninety-six smaller stones.
Currently, many of these cuts are on display. They form the principal parts of the Crown Jewels of England. Other cuts that aren’t included in the royal display have been used in various exquisite pieces of jewelry.
Some of the smaller cuts were taken to Amsterdam shortly after Edward VII had commissioned the separation. However, soon after their voyage to Europe, they were bought by the South African government.
These smaller diamonds owned by the South African government were subsequently presented to Queen Mary in 1910.
Her Majesty the Queen still wears various precious gems that originated from the Cullinan diamond. As mentioned, they are on public display in the Crown Jewels of England in the Tower of London Crown Jewels Exhibition.
The other remaining Stars of Africa are located within the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace. If the public wish to view these additions, they can do so on an exclusive tour.
Learning About the Cullinan Diamond
It’s now over one hundred years since the world was first fascinated with the discovery of the Cullinan diamond.
First found in a South African mine by the superintendent, the Cullinan diamond has since been separated into numerous cuts and divided amongst the British royalty. Some remain on public display while others are tucked away in various valuable pieces of jewelry.
However, many pieces of diamond resulted from the separation of the Cullinan stone, there’s one thing for sure – there hasn’t been a larger diamond discovered by humankind since.