At JCS, we are fascinated by diamonds and the role they played in history. In the “Famous Diamonds” section of our blog, you will find out the stories behind some of the most famed and extraordinary diamonds in the world.
The giant Cullinan is one of the largest and most famous diamond in the world. It was found at the Premier Diamond Mine in South Africa in 1905. The Cullinan weighed a massive 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g) as a rough diamond crystal. The rough diamond was 10 cm long, 6 cm high and 5 cm thick. The Cullinan diamond was named after Thomas Cullinan who was a South African businessman, owner of the Premier Diamond Mine.
The Cullinan was first cut into three large parts by Joseph Asscher, and cut again into nine large stones and other smaller fragments. The nine finished diamonds became part of the British Regalia, the English Crown Jewels, or are in the personal possession of the British Royal Family.
The largest cut and polished gem from the original stone is named Cullinan I or the Great Star of Africa. At 530.20 carats (106.0 g) it was the largest cut and polished diamond in the world until the discovery of the Golden Jubilee Diamond in 1985. The Cullinan I is a pear shaped diamond and measures 58.9 × 45.4 × 27.7 mm. It has 76 facets (counting the culet and the table) and is set in the Royal Scepter, which is currently located with the rest of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.
The Cullinan was purchased for £150,000 by the Transvaal Colony government, who presented it to King Edward VII on his birthday on November 9th 1907. King Edward VII entrusted the cutting of the rough diamond to Abraham and Joseph Asscher, who owned the famous Royal Asscher Diamond Company in Amsterdam. The skill of diamond cutting is a complicated work consisting of cleaving, cutting, and polishing. The Asscher brothers studied the giant sized diamond for three months before making the final decision of where the stone should be cut.
On February 10th 1908 Joseph Asscher prepared himself for the greatest responsibility of his life: the cleaving of the giant Cullinan rough diamond. The tension, pressure and stress on Joseph Asscher can hardly be imagined. He was responsible for cutting the biggest and most expensive diamond in the world and a mistake in this task would, literally, cost a fortune. The skill of the Asscher brothers ensured that each of the nine diamonds had a suitable cut and shape to give the most beautiful results in respect of their luster, transparency, refraction and dispersion of light.