Friday, December 30, 2016

The Cullinan Diamond

The Cullinan diamond is the largest gem quality diamond ever found, at 3106.75 carats (621.35 gms, 1.37 lb). It was found on January 26 1905, in the Premier No. 2 mine, near Pretoria, South Africa.

The diamond was discovered and presented that same afternoon to Sir Thomas Cullinan, who owned the mine and happened to be on site.
Cullinan then sold the diamond to the Transvaal provincial government, which presented the stone to Britain's King Edward VII as a birthday gift.

Sir William Crookes performed an analysis of the Cullinan diamond before it was cut and mentioned its remarkable clarity, but also a black spot in the middle. The colours around the black spot were very vivid and changed as the analyser was turned. According to Crookes, this pointed to internal strain. Such strain is not uncommon in diamonds.
The story goes that when the diamond was split, the knife broke during the first attempt.

"The tale is told of Joseph Asscher, the greatest cleaver of the day, that when he prepared to cleave the largest diamond ever known, the Cullinan, he had a doctor standing by and when he finally struck the diamond and it broke perfectly in two, he fainted dead away."
The Cullinan was split and cut into 7 major stones and 96 smaller stones. Edward VII had the Cullinan I and Cullinan II set respectively into the Sceptre with the Cross and the Imperial State Crown, while the remainder of the seven larger stones and the 96 smaller brilliants were presented to Queen Mary on 28 June 1910.