The largest diamond ever was unearthed right here in our beautiful South Africa on 26 January 1905. The diamond was named the Cullinan – named after Thomas Cullinan, who was the chairman of the mining company.
The diamond weighs 3 106 carats and according to the story, the uncut rock was so enormous and was so clear with a unique blue and white tint, that the mine’s manager first dismissed it for a crystal and threw it out the window! Luckily, they took a second look at the gem and realised what they had found.
It took 8 months to cut the Cullinan diamond
Since the mine where the uncut rock was found was part of the Transvaal region, it was still a British colony. Thus, it was sent to Buckingham Palace and presented to King Edward VII. However, despite fascination and interest from the public, no one could figure out how to cut such a massive rock.
In 1907, the Cullinan diamond was officially gifted to King Edward as a “show of good faith and loyalty” after the Second Boer War. From there, the Asscher brothers, Joseph and Abraham, were called on to cut the famous diamond.
And due to the lack of technology, it took Joseph Asscher 8 months to split and cut the Cullinan as each incision had to be absolutely precise.
The Cullinan diamond became royal property
In 1909, Kind Edward was finally presented with the largest two gems. The 530.2-carat pear-shaped Cullinan I and the 317.4-carat cushion-cut Cullinan II was later incorporated into the Crown Jewels.
Cullinan I was put in the Sovereign’s Sceptre.
And Cullinan II was placed in the Imperial State Crown.
Originally, Kind Edward only had these two diamonds and the 11.5-carat marquise-cut Cullinan VI and left the rest to the Asscher brothers as payment.
However, the South African government purchased the leftover diamonds from the Asscher brothers and presented them to the new consort, King George V and Queen Mary, in 1910. And that is how the royal family still owns all the Cullinan diamonds.