The Cullinan Diamond

The Cullinan Diamond is the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found, at 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g or 1.3698 pounds). It was found by Frederick Wells, surface manager of the Premier Diamond Mining Company in Cullinan, Gauteng, South Africa, on January 25, 1905. The stone was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the diamond mine.

Sir William Crookes performed an examination of the Cullinan diamond and mentioned among others its exceptional clarity but also a black identify in the middle. The colours around the black identify were very vivid and changed as the analyzer was turned. According to Crookes this pointed to harsh internal strain. Such strains are not uncommon for diamonds, and have truly resulted in causing diamonds to explode when reaching the surface, or already in the pockets of the miners due to the exposure to the miner’s body warmth.

The major event of gem history in the year 1908 was the cutting at Amsterdam of the great Cullinan diamond, destined to become the brightest jewel in the British crown. In this connection it may be here mentioned that said crown was already of great weight-thirty-nine ounces and five pennyweights-a handicap that His Majesty King Edward VII probably does not relish on the scarce state occasions when he must submit to having it rest upon his head, as, for example, when it becomes his annual royal duty and prerogative to formally open Parliament. The crown, which usually rests in the Tower of London, contained, prior to additions from the Cullinan Diamond, two thousand eight hundred and eighteen diamonds and two hundred and ninety-seven pearls, besides many other scarce and exquisite jewels. Before its eclipse by the Cullinan Diamond, the chief gem ornamenting the crown was a ruby, valued according to an calculate at about $500,000; this famous gem is the one presented to the Black Prince by Spain, in the year 1367, and was worn by Henry V in his helmet at the battle of Agincourt.

The royal regalia are safely deposited in a chamber of the Wakefield Tower in the Tower of London. The valuable addition resulting from the partitions of the Cullinan Diamond additional nothing to the precautions against theft which before existed. The crown jewels are thoroughly lighted and guarded by night and by day, never, for an moment, being exempt from the scrutiny of armed and uniformed sentries. The jewels are kept in a glass case within a double cage of steel, and cleaned semi-yearly under the supervision of high officers of the British vicinity. The Cullinan Diamonds were on November 1, 1908, delivered to their Majesties, King Edward and Queen Alexandra, at Windsor Castle by Mr. Joseph Asscher of the Amsterdam firm which successfully cut the famous stone. Two secret service men of the Holland government, accompanied by several Scotland Yard detectives, guarded Mr. Asscher’s every movement against the possible attacks of thieves. In the following month the Cullinans were conveyed to the Tower by a closely guarded royal messenger in a motor car, and placed with the regalia beside a form of the Kohinoor. Since then the British public and visitors from all parts of the world have curiously viewed the famous gems.

There was disappointment among the diamond cutters and in the gem trade in England when it was decided to send the Cullinan Diamond to Amsterdam to be cut; the great distinction was conferred upon the house of J. Asscher & Co., of Amsterdam and Paris, whose “fabriek,” or factory is in the Tulp Straat or “Tol-straat,” as it is sometimes written, of Holland’s capital. The stone was delivered to the Amsterdam firm in January, 1908, where for nine months it was kept in the vault, of which the walls of concrete and steel are over two feet thick. On February 10th the stone was divided by Mr. Joseph Asscher under the supervision of Messrs. M. J. Levy & Nephews, precious stone experts, retained to additionally assure the best scientific methods in the operations in which so great a sum in values was involved. The stone was first cleft in two pieces by Mr. Asscher in such a way that a defective identify in the diamond was exactly in the centre, leaving a part of it on each piece of the stone. afterward the larger of these two pieces was divided.

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