Nothing beats daydreaming about beautiful jewels, so today we’ll look at one of the biggest and brightest ever mined. The Cullinan was found in South Africa’s Premier Mine in 1905. The mine manager almost discarded it, thinking something so enormous could only be a crystal. But the whopping 3,106.75-carat, 1.33 pound stone was the real thing. It was named for Thomas Cullinan, the Premier Mine’s chairperson.
The Cullinan was presented as a gift to King Edward VII of England in 1907. The Dutch firm I.J. Asscher of Amsterdam was entrusted with cutting the huge and precious stone. Joseph Asscher began eight months of careful work on the Cullinan in 1908. The story goes that Asscher studied the stone for six months before successfully splitting the diamond. Then he fainted from nervous exhaustion. Three polishers put in 14-hour days cutting, grinding and polishing the resulting 9 large stones and 96 little brilliant diamonds.
The nine large stones became part of the Royal Jewels. The biggest stone is called the Great Star of Africa, or Cullinan One and weighs in at more than 530 carats. If you visit the Tower of London, you can see it topping the royal scepter. The second biggest stone, which is called Star of Africa II or Cullinan II, is also in the Tower. Other stones became earrings, brooches and necklaces worn by royalty. For Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, visitors could see seven of the nine big Cullinan stones on display in Buckingham Palace.
Since the queen has the Cullinan, we diamond lovers have to console ourselves with smaller but still lovable diamonds. Ben David has a ton to choose from, all sparkly and gorgeous.
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