The Cullinan Diamonds

23.06.08

 The Star of Africa Cullinan 1

 Cullinan rough diamonds

Cullinan Diamonds III and IV


Discovering the Biggest Diamond Ever Found

When the Cullinan Diamond was discovered at the South African Premier Diamond Mine in 1905, there was a huge debate about what should be done with it.

At 3,106.75 carats it was the biggest rough diamond ever found - as big as a large grapefruit. In the end, the diamond was bought by the Transvaal government for the huge sum of US$800,000 and gifted to King Edward VII of England on his 66th birthday.

Cutting the Diamond

The Cullinan was sent to Asscher Brothers in Amsterdam to be cut. It was not a perfect diamond, something that would be almost impossible at that size, as there was a black spot in the centre that needed to be worked around. In the end, the jeweller decided that the diamond should be cut into a 9 major diamonds.

There is also a legend that Mr Asscher fainted when he first cut the diamond, but as with much gemological mythology there is little to no evidence to support the rumour.

Cullinan I and Cullinan II

The largest of the diamonds was cut into a pear shape and named the Cullinan I, known also as the Great Star of Africa. At 530.2 carats it was the largest polished diamond in the world until the Golden Jubilee was discovered in the 1980s.

The second largest of the Cullinans is the Cullinan II, or the Lesser Star of Africa, which at 317.4 carats is the fourth largest polished diamond in the world. This has a cushion cut. Both diamonds were inserted into the British Crown Jewels and can be seen at the Tower of London.

Cullinan III and Cullinan IV

The Cullinan III is a 94.40 carat pear-shaped diamond. It is also part of the British Crown Jewels, mounted in Queen Mary's Crown, and can be detached and worn with the 63.60-carat cushion shape Cullinan IV as a pendant-brooch, as seen aside (right).

Cullinan V and Cullinan VI

The 18.8 carat Cullinan V is a triangular-pear cut and can be worn either in a crown or as a brooch, much as the Cullinan III

The 11.50 carat marquise-cut Cullinan VI was gifted by King Edward to Queen Alexandra, and is now worn by Elizabeth II as a drop on a diamond and emerald necklace. It is one of the most frequently worn of the Cullinans.

Cullinan VII, VIII and IX

These two diamonds are mounted together as a brooch (as seen to the left). The 6.8 carat Cullinan VIII formed the centre of the brooch, with the 8.8 carat marquis cut VII beneath it.

Last but by no means least, the Cullinan IX, is a 4.39 carat pear shaped diamond that is mounted in a ring with a prong setting. This ring was made for Queen Mary and is sometimes worn by Queen Elizabeth II.

About

Dianne is the Customer Services fairy for online jewellery company 1791 Diamonds Limited, proud supplier of New Zealand made, designer diamond engagement rings.

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