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The Cullinan Diamond

  March 20, 2009 at 10:23 pm by

The Cullinan Diamond was found by Captain Frederick Wells in a mine in Pretoria, South Africa, on 25th January 1905. The diamond was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan who owned the mine. The stone weighed one and half pounds and measured about 3,106 carats. It is the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found. It was presented to Edward VII, for his 66th brithday, by the Transvaal governemnt. The Cullinan diamond was sent to the famous Dutch firm of Asscher where they cut the diamond. The first two diamonds to be cut (Cullinan I and II) were to be put into the Crown jewels collection whilst a third stone (Cullinan VI) was given as a personal present by the Edward to his wife Queen Alexandra. Until 1910 the remainder to the Cullinan diamond had stayed with Asschers in Amsterdam but Prime Minister Botha of South Africa insisted that his Government bought back the diamonds and they were presented to the new Queen Mary.

image1 – Publicity photo of the Cullinan crystal being handed from Fred Wells (right) to McHardy, who then hands it to Sir Thomas Cullinan (left)

image2 – glass copies of all nine cuts of the cullinan diamonds

Greater Star of Africa – Cullinan I
This pear shaped diamond of 530.2 carats was set into the royal sceptre with the cross in the Crown Jewels in 1911 for the Coronation of George V. Today it is on display along with the rest of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. Cullinan I can be removed from the sceptre and worn as a brooch. image3

image4 – Coronation 1953 Queen Elizabeth II holding the Royal sceptre with the cross and wearing the Imperial State Crown.

Second Star of Africa – Cullinan II
This diamond of 317.4 carats (image5) was set into the Imperial State Crown which is used for the annual State Opening of Parliament. image6 It is on display at the Tower of London in the Jewel House. It can also be used as a brooch along with Cullinan 1 and Queen Mary choose to wear the brooches on a number of occassions.
image7 Queen Mary pictured after the State opening of Parliament 6th February 1911 – wearing the Cullinan I and II as a brooch as well as Cullinan III and IV attached to the Crown collet necklace.

Lesser Stars of Africa – Cullinan III and IV (“Granny’s Chips”)
In 1910 Queen Mary had a brooch made up of a pear drop diamond of 94.4 carats (III) hanging from square-cut diamond of 63.6 carats (IV). image8 Howver for her coronation in 1911, Mary had the two stones temporally placed into her Crown and circlet. Queen Mary frequently wore the Lesser Stars of Africa brooch, or as she referred to them as her “chips”, at important official functions included the wedding of Princess Elizabeth in 1947. In 1953, the Queen inherited the brooch and it has become the most valuable item which she personally owns. Due to the weight of the brooch, the Queen has only worn the brooch a handful of times. image9 The first occassion she choose to wear the piece was on a visit to the Asscher diamond works in March 1958 whilst on a state visit to Holland. According to reports the Queen she unpinned the brooch and handed it to Louis Asscher who had witness the original Cullinan being cut by his brother. The brooch was put on display in the new Queen’s Gallery from 2002.

Cullinan V Heart Brooch
The unusual heart-shaped stone of 18.8 carats, given by the Government of South Africa to Queen Mary in 1910, is one of the nine numbered Cullinan diamonds. In its diamond and platinum setting, it was designed both as a brooch and as the detachable centre of the emerald and diamond stomacher made for the Delhi Durbar in 1911. (image10) For the 1937 coronation, Queen Mary used this brooch in her coronet in the place of the Koh-i-Nûr, which had been transferred to Queen Elizabeth’s (the Queen Mother) crown. The Queen inherited the brooch in 1953 and is one of her favourites with estimates of over 100 public outings in the last number of years. image11 It was put on display for the Queen’s 80th birthday in 2006 during the summer opening of Buckingham Palace.

Delhi Durbar Necklace – Cullinan VI
Queen Mary decided to have the neckace altered in 1912 by adding detachable diamond pendant. This is an 8.8 carat marquise diamond known as Cullinan VII, one of the nine numbered stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond. (image12) The marquise-cut stone had been a present to Queen Alexandra in 1907 from Edward VII and she then following her husband’s death she gave to the new Queen Mary. The necklace was inherited by the Queen in 1953 and was put on a display in 2006 at Buckingham Palace to mark the Queen’s 80th birthday. image13

Cullinan VII and Cullinan VIII Brooch
The marquise pendant of 11.5 carats, Cullinan VI, purchased by King Edward VII from Asschers, was set by Queen Alexandra on her regal circlet. It is now suspended from Cullinan VIII, an emerald-cut stone of 6.8 carats given to Queen Mary in 1910 by the South African Government. (image14) Like the Cullinan V brooch, Cullinan VIII was also designed to be used in the Delhi Durbar stomacher. When Queen Mary died in 1953, the Queen inherited the piece and with a number of other pieces was put on display in 2006 at Buckingham Palace. The Queen has worn this brooch fewer than 10 times and one of last occassions was when she meet Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan at Buckingham Palace on May 29, 2007. image15

Cullinan IX Ring
Queen Mary used the ninth Cullinan chip of a 4.4 carat pear shaped diamond to be set in a ring. The present Queen has worn the ring on a few official occassions.

Thanks to forum member GillW for the help with information on the cullinan brooches

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8 Responses to The Cullinan Diamond

  1. RoyalProtocol says:

    Great Blog PrincessofEurope! You really have put some great research into the Cullinan Diamond and have some lovely pictures.

    Thank you!

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  3. Maybeagma says:

    Other variant is possible also

  4. Christabelle Pinto says:

    I wonder what it feels to have a large diamond adorning a headpiece or pinnedd to a lapel? Would there not be a danger of it falling out because of its weight? Hahaha..these are just some questions that formed in my crazy head when I saw the diamonds. Great pictures, by the way… Somehow I now have vivid pictures on how those looked like. Good thing I don’t have to worry about weight or how my diamonds wil be cut. I am perfectly contented with my james allen diamond engagement ring offered to my by my fiance. It’s not as expensive as the ones featured in the pictures but, definitely worth keeping!

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  7. GONZALO says:


  8. Artemisia says:

    Cullinan I and II are Crown Jewels; that means they belong to the Monarch and the State. The Monarch cannot make provisions about the future of these particular jewels, any more than she could about the Imperial State Crown; they are Crown Property. On the other hand, most other Cullinans (III, IV, V, etc) are private property. While traditionally they are left from one Sovereign to another, in theory, the Monarch of the time could make different arrangements (although that is extremely unlikely to ever happen, save for some truly extraordinary circumstances).

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