January 25, 2007

The Cullinan Diamond

This 3,106 carat diamond is the largest gem diamond ever found. It was discovered in 1905 at the Premier mines in South Africa by Frederick Wells, a mine superintendent. He was walking through the mine at the end of the day, when he happened to glance up. He noticed a large mass in one side of the mine wall. Thinking it was a big piece of glass embedded by a practical joker he examined what turned out to be a huge diamond. Wells received $10,000 for his find. The diamond was named Cullinan, after the mine's owner Sir Thomas Cullinan.

Weight: 3,106 carat (rough)
Cut: Final cut Pear shaped diamond

It was purchased for $800,000 as a present for King Edward VII for his 66th birthday. The stone was sent to the Asscher Brothers in Amsterdam to be cut. They had successfully cut the Excelsior, previously the largest diamond. The huge uncut stone was studied for months. Then on February 10, 1908, Mr. Asscher stuck the steel cleaver's blade to make the first cut. The blade broke while the diamond remained intact.

On the second attempt, it split exactly as planned. It was reported that after the second cut, Mr. Asscher fainted. Further cuts produced three principal parts, and these in tern were cut into 9 major gems, 96 smaller brilliants, and 9.5 carats of unpolished pieces.The Cullinan I was the largest gem produced from the rough stone. It is a pear shaped stone of 530.2 carats and is the world's largest cut diamond.

The Cullinan I is now in the head of the royal scepter in the British crown jewels. The second largest cut diamond, the Cullinan II, is a cushion-shaped stone weighing 317.4 carats, and is set in the British imperial state crown.

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