Where Are They Now? The Cullinan Diamond Cuts

Related Articles

Related Articles

The Cullinan Diamond is the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever discovered. Weighing in at over 3,106 carats or 621.35g, it’s easy to see why the manager of the diamond mine threw it away, not believing it could actually be a diamond.

The nine largest pieces after the split : Wiki Commons
The nine largest pieces after the split : Wiki Commons

The giant diamond certainly has a rich history. Having been purchased by the Transvaal Government and presented to King Edward VII as a birthday gift, the priceless gem was delivered through the post while a heavily guarded ship travelled to South Africa as a decoy.

 

The sheer size of the diamond also caused the man who split it – Joseph Asscher – to faint.

It’s definitely a piece that has attracted much discussion due to its unique and intriguing past, but what of its present? Where is it now? What happened to it and where can you see it, or at least parts of it?

The Separation

In the early 1900’s, eight months of extensive work resulted in the stone being split and cut into nine main pieces and 96 smaller stones. Many of these remain on public display to this day – forming principal parts of the world famous Crown Jewels of England – while others have been used in various extravagant pieces of jewellery.

When Edward VII commissioned the cut, the resulting nine stones were rather simply named Cullinan I to Cullinan IX, with several being incorporated into the Crown Jewels, while the remaining gems and smaller fragments stayed in the possession of the Asscher brothers in Amsterdam. However, these were shortly bought by the South African government and presented to Queen Mary in 1910.

The Cullinans: I-IX

The Cullinan I, pear-shaped and the largest cut from the diamond at 530.2 carats, can now be seen in the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross at the Crown Jewels exhibitions. The sceptre was initially crafted for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661, although following the discovery of the Cullinan, it was redesigned to incorporate what is believed to be the second largest diamond in the world.

Portrait of King George VI : CC

The largest of the Cullinan diamonds has on occasion been used in combination with Cullinan II as a brooch. The second largest of the gems – also known as the Lesser Star of Africa – is chiefly situated in the front of the Imperial State Crown, one of the British monarchy’s most symbolic treasures.

An incredible 2868 diamonds adorn the Crown, but the Cullinan II is undoubtedly the main attraction; sitting proudly at the front of the crown band. Cushion-shaped and weighing 317.4 carats, the diamond is a glorious spectacle to behold.

Another popular item of the Crown Jewels, Queen Mary’s Crown, once housed the pear-shaped Cullinan III. It has now been replaced with a rock crystal replica within the orb at the crowns pinnacle, with the precious stone now forming a brooch along with Cullinan IV.

The fourth largest of the precious gems was originally an integral part of Queen Mary’s Coronation Crown; centred within the front of the crowns circlet. It too has been replaced by a beautiful replica and incorporated into the brooch that The Queen, since inheriting in 1953, has worn frequently throughout her reign.

The Queen can also often be seen sporting the precious Cullinan V within a brooch. The heart-shaped diamond is mounted in a fine radiating platinum web with a pavé-set border of exquisite smaller diamonds. It was most frequently worn by Queen Mary during her reign, having been created as the detachable centre section of the stomacher designed for the Delhi Durbar in 1911.

Another grouping of the nine Cullinan diamonds features both VI and VIII, weighing 11.5 and 6.8 carats respectively, which also combine to form an elegant brooch. Cullinan VI was inherited by Queen Mary after Queen Alexandra’s death in 1925 and along with VIII, was mounted in such a way that it could also form a part of the Delhi Durbar stomacher.

Another attractive element of Queen Mary’s parure of jewellery for the Delhi Durbar was a diamond and emerald necklace that featured the Cullinan VII diamond – a marquise-shaped jewel that hangs delicately from the green emerald necklace. Also incorporated in the piece are nine of the Cambridge emeralds that were first owned by Queen Mary’s grandmother, the Duchess of Cambridge.

The ninth and smallest of the famous Cullinan jewels still looks rather impressive in its current location, set into a platinum ring designed for Queen Mary in 1911. The pear-shaped diamond weighs 4.4 metric carats and perfectly demonstrates the incredible level of detail that the Asscher brothers were able to achieve with the rather rudimentary equipment they used to cut the Cullinan more than a century ago.

The Cullinans Today

When the various gems that originated from the Star of Africa are not being worn by Her Majesty The Queen, interested parties can discover them for themselves. The Sceptre with the Cross and the Imperial State Crown can be seen at the Tower of London Crown Jewels exhibition, while the remaining Stars of Africa, in their current guises, are held within the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace and can be viewed on an exclusive tour. You can also find out more about the Cullinan Diamond and other famous diamonds in the Crown Jewels on the Historic Royal Palaces Website.

Next time The Queen is on television, why not take a closer look at her choice of jewellery and see whether you can identify one of the Cullinan diamonds.

Header Image : Imperial State Crown : Credit Christine Darrington

Contributing Source : Historic Royal Palaces

 

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Photos of Stolen Mosaic Reveals Oldest Representation of Roman Hydraulic Wheel

Researchers from the University of Warsaw have determined that a mosaic stolen from Apamea in present-day Syria is the oldest representation of a Roman hydraulic water wheel.

Study Reveals True Origin of Oldest Evidence of Animals

Two teams of scientists have resolved a longstanding controversy surrounding the origins of complex life on Earth.

The Microbiome of Da Vinci’s Drawings

The work of Leonardo Da Vinci is an invaluable heritage of the 15th century. From engineering to anatomy, the master paved the way for many scientific disciplines.

The Private Estates of the Royal Family

The private estates of the Royal Family are the privately owned assets, not to be confused with the Crown Estates which belong to the British monarch as a corporation sole or "the sovereign's public estate".

Field Geology at Mars’ Equator Points to Ancient Megaflood

Floods of unimaginable magnitude once washed through Gale Crater on Mars' equator around 4 billion years ago - a finding that hints at the possibility that life may have existed there, according to data collected by NASA's Curiosity rover and analyzed in joint project by scientists from Jackson State University, Cornell University, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Hawaii.

Middle Stone Age Populations Repeatedly Occupied West African Coast

Although coastlines have widely been proposed as potential corridors of past migration, the occupation of Africa's tropical coasts during the Stone Age is poorly known, particularly in contrast to the temperate coasts of northern and southern Africa.

Naqa – The Meroitic City

Naqa, also called Naga'a, and presently referred to as the El-Moswarat Andel-Naqa'a Archaeological Area was one of the ancient cities of the Nubian Kingdom of Kush, located on the east-bank of the River Nile in Western Butan (historically called the Island of Meroë) in Sudan.

Prehistoric Shark Hid its Largest Teeth

Some, if not all, early sharks that lived 300 to 400 million years ago not only dropped their lower jaws downward but rotated them outwards when opening their mouths.

Popular stories

Legio IX Hispana – The Lost Roman Legion

One of the most debated mysteries from the Roman period involves the disappearance of the Legio IX Hispana, a legion of the Imperial Roman Army that supposedly vanished sometime after AD 120.

The Secret Hellfire Club and the Hellfire Caves

The Hellfire Club was an exclusive membership-based organisation for high-society rakes, that was first founded in London in 1718, by Philip, Duke of Wharton, and several of society's elites.

Port Royal – The Sodom of the New World

Port Royal, originally named Cagway was an English harbour town and base of operations for buccaneers and privateers (pirates) until the great earthquake of 1692.

Matthew Hopkins – The Real Witch-Hunter

Matthew Hopkins was an infamous witch-hunter during the 17th century, who published “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647, and whose witch-hunting methods were applied during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts.