Famous Diamonds 1: The Cullinan Diamond

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There are many sayings that go along with diamonds: “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” and “diamonds are forever” for example. There is no doubt that diamonds are popular with people all over the world flocking to buy these precious stones. Why do we have such a strong attraction to these glittering pieces of ages-old compressed carbon?

In this Blog Series we look at some of the most world’s most famous diamonds, and at the lucky (or in a few cases, unlucky) people who own them.

The Cullinan Diamond

The Cullinan Diamond is, at 3,106.75 carats, the largest diamond ever found. In its uncut form the stone weighed over 600 grams.

This spectacular gem was discovered in 1905 at the Premier Mine in South Africa by Frederick Wells, a mine superintendent. While walking through the mine one day he noticed something gleaming on the side of the wall. What he originally thought was a massive piece of glass was actually a huge diamond. Wells received $10,000 for his discovery.

The diamond was named Cullinan after the owner of the mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan. It was given as a gift to the then King of England, Edward VII, for his 66th birthday, and sent to Amsterdam to be cut. The rough stone was cut by Joseph Asscher, who examined it for 6 months before determining how to divide it. He eventually cut it into 9 major and 96 smaller brilliant cut stones.

The nine major diamonds produced from the Cullinan Diamond

The nine major diamonds produced from the Cullinan Diamond

The largest of the cut stones is The Star of Africa, or Cullinan 1. At a cut weight of 530.20 carats it subsequently holds the record as the largest cut diamond in the world. The stone became part of the British monarchy’s Crown Jewels, and was inserted into the Royal Sceptre. (The stone can also be removed from the Royal Scepter and worn as a pin or pendant.)

The Star of Africa in the British monarch's Royal Sceptre

The Star of Africa in the British monarch’s Royal Sceptre

The value of the Cullinan Diamond has been estimated at $2 billion.

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