Famous Diamonds: "The Cullinan" – the World’s Biggest Diamond

Do you know which is the biggest diamond ever found on earth? It's called the "Cullinan Diamond", and in today’s "Famous Diamonds" series we will unravel its history and unique characteristics.

The place of origin of this colossal precious gemstone is the Premier Mine in Cullinan, South Africa, where some of the rarest and most expensive diamonds in the world were found during the years.

Discovered on 26th January 1905, the "Cullinan Diamond" was named so în honor of the founder of the Premier Mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan, who reportedly was visiting the facility that very same day.

The nearly flawless rough diamond weighed an incredible 3106.75 carats (621.35 grams), making it the world’s largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found.

The History of the "Cullinan Diamond"

The largest diamond ever found on earth was bought in 1907 by the Transvaal Colony government for 150,000 pounds (the equivalent of 15 million pounds in 2016) and offered to the British King Edward VII for his sixty-sixth birthday, in the presence of many distinguished guests, among which were included the Queen of Sweden, and the Queen of Spain.

This gesture was presented as "a token of the loyalty and attachment of the people of the Transvaal to His Majesty's throne and person". The King promised that "this great and unique diamond" will be kept and preserved among "the historic jewels which form the heirlooms of the Crown".

The rough precious stone was then sent by the king for polishing to the Joseph Asscher & Co in Amsterdam who divided the diamond into 3 segments, and later it was divided into 9 large gemstones of 1,055.89 carats (211.178 g), plus 96 smaller brilliants, and some unpolished stones weighing 19.5 carats (3.90 g).

So the "Cullinan Diamond" was cut and polished into 105 diamonds. Out of all of them, the "Cullinan 1 Diamond" is by far the largest and most valuable piece. Often referred to as the "Great Star of Africa", the exquisite pear-shaped gemstone weighs a total of 530.4 carats (106.08 g) and has 74 facets. It is the largest clear-cut diamond in the world.

While the "Cullinan 1 Diamond" was newer been on sale, it's thought to be worth an excess of 52 million dollars (estimated in 2019).

Then comes the "Cullinan 2 Diamond", dubbed as the "Second Star of Africa", measuring an impressive 317.4 carats (63.48 g). It is a cushion-cut brilliant with 66 facets.

On the third position, we see the "Cullinan 3 Diamond", named the "Lesser Star of Africa", a pear-cut gemstone that weighs 94.4 carats (18.88 g).

The entire collection of Cullinan colorless diamonds is by far one of the finest and more impressive collections in history.

What Happened to the "Cullinan Diamonds"

Have you ever seen the British Crown jewels? Then you have also seen the largest two gemstones of the collection – the "Cullinan 1" and the "Cullinan 2".

The "Great Star of Africa" was set in the head of the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross, but it is also removable so it can be worn separately, while the "Second Star of Africa" was mounted in the front of the Imperial State Crown.

The rest of the stones were received by Joseph Asscher & Co as payment.

Eventually, King Edward bought one of the major stones for his wife Queen Alexandra. The other large gemstones were sold to the South African government, who in turn presented them to Queen Mary. The seven major stones - weighing a total of 208.29 carats (41.66 g) – were eventually inherited by Queen Elizabeth II.

What happened to the minor stones? They ended up in the hands of various people such as the diamond merchants who supervised the cutting of the rough giant "Cullinan Diamond", the co-founder of the first trade union in the diamond industry, the then prime minister of South Africa, and the South African government, who again offered them to Queen Mary.

This is the story of the world’s largest diamond. Although more than 100 years have passed since its discovery, the "Cullinan Diamond" remains unchallenged in size until today.

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