Famous Diamonds Pt 2 – The Cullinan Diamonds

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December 31, 2012 by epochbeadsuk

The Cullinan I

The Cullinan I

The Cullinan Diamonds are so large, beautiful, important, famous and noteworthy that I have decided to give them a page of their own! 

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Frederick Wells with the rough Cullinan 1905

Frederick Wells with the rough Cullinan 1905

Late in the afternoon of 25th January in 1905, Mr. Frederick Wells, the superintendent of the prolific Premier Mine in South Africa, was making a routine inspection trip through the mine when his attention was attracted by something reflecting the sun. Curious, he stopped for a closer look. He was eighteen feet below the surface of the earth, and the shiny object was on the steep wall of the mine a few feet above him. Mr. Wells extracted what appeared to be a large diamond crystal. At first, he thought he was being fooled by a large piece of glass, but tests proved it to be the largest gem-quality diamond ever discovered.

This magnificent stone is named after Sir Thomas Cullinan who owned the mine where it was discovered. This stone is also known as the star of Africa; the stone tipped the scales at 3,253 and ¾ carats.

Publicity photo of the Cullinan crystal being handed from Fred Wells (right)to McHardy, who then hands it to Sir Thomas Cullinan (left). 1905

Publicity photo of the Cullinan crystal being handed from Fred Wells (right)
to McHardy, who then hands it to Sir Thomas Cullinan (left). 1905

While the diamond was becoming famous in Great Britain, Thomas Cullinan was struggling to find a buyer for such an enormous stone. The first report on the diamond stated it was a world record, both in size and colour.  The diamond was then put on display to the public in the offices of the Standard bank in Johannesburg it was decided that the stone should go to England.  It was insured for $1,250,000 when it was sent to London.  Transporting such a valuable gem stone raised many problems. It reached Cape Town hidden in a hat box of the wife of a South African postman.  The diamond was taken to Buckingham palace for inspection by King Edward VII. Over the next two years the stone remained a public wonder, however no one bought it and it remained in a vault.

The 9 rough Cullinan Diamonds

The 9 rough Cullinan Diamonds

The Cullinan was sold to the Transvaal government, which presented it to King Edward VII on his 66th birthday on November 9th, 1907.  The King entrusted the cutting of the stone to the famous Joseph Asscher of the Asscher Diamond Co. in Amsterdam.

On February 10th, 1908, it produced nine major gems, 96 smaller brilliants,

The 9 Cullinan main stones cut & polished

The 9 Cullinan main stones cut & polished

and 9.50 carats of unpolished pieces.

The nine larger stones remain either in the British Crown Jewels or in the personal possession of the Royal Family.

These historically celebrated gems and their present mountings are as follows:

The Cullinan I

Star of Africa Royal Scepter

Star of Africa Royal Scepter

The Cullinan I, also known as the Star of Africa, weighs 530.20 carats.  Star of Africa was purchased for King Edward on his 66th anniversary, at the price of $800,000.00.  King Edward VII ordered the Cullinan I –Star of Africa to be mounted on the head of the Royal Scepter.  The beautiful Star of Africa Royal Scepter it is now hosted and on display in the Tower of London.

The Cullinan II

The Imperial State Crown

The Imperial State Crown

The Cullinan II, also known as the Second Star of Africa,  is a 317.40 carat cushion cut stone mounted in the band of the Imperial State Crown; it is also in the Tower of London as part of the Crown Jewels.  The Imperial State Crown, or Crown of State, is the crown the monarch exchanges for St Edward’s Crown, at the end of the coronation ceremony.

The Cullinan III & IV

Queen Mary Crown

Queen Mary Crown

The Cullinan III is a pear-shaped diamond weighing 94.40 carats and is in the finial of Queen Mary’s Crown. The Cullinan IV is a square-cut stone of 63.6 carats which is in the band of Queen Mary’s Crown.

Cullinan Diamonds III & IV

Cullinan Diamonds III & IV

Queen Mary’s Crown was designed for the coronation of June 1911.  Mary also wore the crown without its arches as a circlet, in particular for the coronation of her son, King George VI at the coronation in 1937.

Both the III and IV can be worn together as a pendant-brooch. Many of Queen Mary’s portraits show her wearing these two stones, and Elizabeth II makes use of them the same way.

The Cullinan V

cullinan5The Cullinan V is a triangular-pear cut weighing 18.80 carats, was originally in a brooch for Queen Mary.  The mounting of the jewel was designed to be as adaptable as possible, so that it could be worn in several different guises.

It was most often worn by Queen Mary, and now by Queen Elizabeth (who inherited it 1953), as a brooch.

The Cullinan VI & VIII

Cullinan VI & VIII

Cullinan VI & VIII

The Cullinan VI,  an 11.50 carat marquise-cut stone which was inherited by Queen Mary after Queen Alexandra’s death in 1925, was generally worn as the pendant to Cullinan VIII. Cullinan VIII is an emerald-cut stone of 6.8 metric carats.  Cullinan VIII was mounted to be just as adaptable as the other numbered stones, and could be worn as part of the Delhi Durbar stomacher and also linked to the Cullinan V Brooch. Cullinan VI and VIII were inherited by The Queen in 1953.

The Cullinan VII (The Delhi Durbar Necklace)

Delhi Durbar Necklace with Cullinan VII Pendant

Delhi Durbar Necklace with Cullinan VII Pendant

The Cullinan VII is an 8.8 carat marquise cut stone and is worn as a pendant in the Delhi Durbar necklace.  The necklace incorporates nine of the celebrated Cambridge emeralds as well as one of the Cullinan VII. The diamond is detachable and can be used with the Cullinan VIII brooch as an alternative to Cullinan VI.  Originally, a detachable pendant with a pear-shaped emerald was attached to the cushion-shaped emerald centerpiece of the necklace. Later, Queen Mary added the Cullinan VII to the pendant.  Will we be seeing the new Duchess of Cambridge wearing this celebrated necklace?!

The Cullinan IX

The Cullinan IX Ring

The Cullinan IX Ring

The Cullinan IX is a positively tiny 4.39 carat pear shape diamond that was mounted in a ring for Queen Mary in 1911.

The pear shape is known as a pendeloque and is mounted in an openwork 12-claw setting which was then inherited by Queen Elizabeth. Of course, with the amount of glove-wearing going on in the queen’s life, the occasions on which to actually see a ring like this are relatively few.

‘Granny’s Chips’

That’s the end of the nine prominent stones but there are still bits remaining: 96 small brilliants and 10 or so carats of unpolished pieces, what was left over when the large stones were cut and polished. Where have they gone?

Queen Mary and her daughter, Princess Mary (Mary is also wearing Cullinan's VI and VIII)

Queen Mary and her daughter, Princess Mary (Mary is also wearing Cullinan’s VI and VIII)

According to Leslie Field (Source:www.orderofsplendor.blogspot.co.uk), this pendant necklace worn by Queen Mary includes some of those bits and pieces.  But where the rest are – who knows?

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Runner up in Beads & Beyond Magazine's Jewellery Maker of the Year Competition 2012 - Chain Maille Category

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