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Cullinan Diamond

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Description of the Cullinan Diamond including the Star of Africa
The giant Cullinan I is one of the most famous and the largest white gem quality diamond in the world (the 1985 Golden Jubilee 545.67 carat diamond is heavier but a relatively poor brown diamond). The Cullinan weighed a massive 3,106 carats as a rough diamond crystal. The rough diamond was 10 cm long, 6 cm high and 5 cm thick. The giant Cullinan was first cut into three large parts by Joseph Asscher and Company of Amsterdam, and cut again into  9 large stones and other smaller fragments. The nine larger stones are to be found in either in the British Regalia, the English Crown Jewels, or in the personal possession of the British Royal Family. The two largest and main diamonds are the Cullinan I (aka Great Star of Africa) and the Cullinan II.

The Cullinan Diamond
After cutting the giant rough Cullinan diamond the following stones were created each being given different numbers according to their diminishing weights. Facts and information about each of the diamonds are listed below together with details of their current mountings:

  • The Cullinan I aka the Star of Africa cut into a pear shape and weighing 530.20 carats is set in the Royal Sceptre
  • The Cullinan II in the center-front of the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain was cut into a cushion shape and weighing 317.40 carats is mounted in the band of the Imperial State Crown
  • The Cullinan III is cut into a pear shape and weighing 94.40 carats is mounted in the finial (an ornament projecting as a round or oval shape ) of Queen Mary's Crown. It can also be worn as a pendant-brooch
  • The Cullinan IV is set in the band of Queen Mary's crown after being cut into a square cushion shape and weighing 63.60 carats. It can also be worn as a pendant-brooch
  • The Cullinan V was originally mounted in a brooch for Queen Mary but now used as a replacement for the Koh-i-Noor diamond which was used in a new crown made for Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother) in 1937. It was cut into a heart shape and weighs 18.50 carats
  • The Cullinan VI is set in a diamond and emerald necklace was cut into a marquise shape and weighing 11.50 carats
  • The Cullinan VII is mounted as a pendant drop on a diamond brooch, cut into a marquise shape and weighing 8.80 carats
  • The Cullinan VIII was cut into a rectangular cushion and weighing 6.80 carats. It is mounted as the centre diamond on the same brooch as the Cullinan VII
  • The Cullinan IX was cut into a pear shape, weighing 4.39 carats and set in a ring

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Origin of the name of the Cullinan Diamond
The Cullinan Diamond was named after Thomas Cullinan (later Sir Thomas) who was a South African businessman. Thomas Cullinan was a successful Johannesburg building contractor and amateur geologist. Thomas became interested in the area because of the alluvial diamonds that were being found in nearby stream.

History of the Cullinan Diamond
The Cullinan diamond was discovered at the Premier Diamond Mine in 1905. Mr. Frederick Wells, the superintendent of the Premier Mine found the crystal when he was making a routine inspection of the mine, eighteen feet below the ground. Frederick Wells received 3,500 pounds as a reward. The Cullinan was sold to the Transvaal government for 150,000 who presented it to King Edward VII on his 66th birthday on November 9th, 1907. King Edward VII entrusted the Asscher brothers with cutting the giant stone which was finally finished in 1908.  The nine finished diamonds became part of the British Regalia, the English Crown Jewels, or in the personal possession of the British Royal Family.

Cutting the Cullinan Diamond
The King entrusted the cutting of the rough diamond to Abraham and Joseph Asscher who owned the famous Royal Asscher Diamond Company in Amsterdam. The skill of diamond cutting is complicated work consisting of cutting, polishing, setting and cleaving. The Asscher brothers studied the giant sized rough diamond for three months before making the final decision of where the diamond should be cut. On February 10, 1908 Joseph Asscher prepared himself for the greatest responsibility of his life - the cleaving of the giant Cullinan rough diamond. The tension, pressure and stress on Joseph Asscher can hardly be imagined. He was responsible for cutting the biggest and most expensive diamond in the world and a mistake in this task would, literally, cost a fortune. Joseph Asscher placed the cleaving blade at the prearranged point of the diamond and struck the blade with his hammer. To his horror the cleaving blade broke. Thankfully, the diamond was unharmed. A special, extra large, cleaving blade was obtained. The second attempt was understandably even more tense than the first. Failure was unthinkable. Joseph Asscher struck the rough diamond again but this time it split perfectly into  three large sections. These sections were closely studied and then divided into nine principal diamonds. The skill of the Asscher brothers ensured that each of the diamonds had a suitable cut and shape to give the most beautiful results in respect of their lustre, transparency, refraction and dispersion of light. The Polishing process began on March 3, 1908 and took a period of eight months to complete.

Information about the Premier Diamond Mine
The Premier Diamond Mine is a South African underground diamond mine which was established at the end of Second Boer War (South Africa War 1899-1902) in 1902.The land was originally part of the Cornelis Minnaar Farm. Thomas Cullinan (later Sir Thomas) bought the farm for the sum 52,000. His company was first registered on 6th November 1902 as the Premier Syndicate but re-registered on the 1st December 1902 as the Premier (Transvaal) Diamond Mining Company Ltd. The village of Cullinan lies 40 kilometres east of Pretoria in the Gauteng Province of South Africa and was established in 1903 to provide mine housing and services for Premier Mine. The famous Cullinan Diamond was found at the Premier Diamond Mine in 1905. In 1917, the De Beers Consolidated Mines acquired a controlling interest in the Premier mine. One hundred years after its opening, in November 2003, the Premier Diamond Mine was renamed the Cullinan Diamond Mine to celebrate its centenary.

How the Cullinan Diamond was formed
The Premier Diamond mine in South Africa, where the Cullinan diamond was found, is situated on an ancient diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe. The pipe is a carrot-shaped volcanic neck originating from great depths within the Earth and is the largest in South Africa. Diamonds are formed when extreme heat and extreme pressure cause carbon atoms to crystallize forming diamonds approximately ninety miles under the earth's surface. Diamonds reach the surface of the earth via volcanic pipes, or channels.

The Cullinan Diamond
The above history details important historical events and dates. Fascinating information about the history of this giant  stone providing comprehensive facts, information and about the history of the famous gem.

Famous - Cullinan Diamond - Precious - History - Star of Africa - Stone - Guide - Facts
Information - Info - History  - Cullinan Diamond - Premier Diamond Mine
Crown Jewels - History - I - II - III - IV - V - VI - VII - VIII - IX

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