Have you ever wondered what is the most magnificent diamond in the world? Then it’s time you checked out the Cullinan I, better known as The Star of Africa (530.2 carats pear cut stone). Nothing quite matches this little twinkler.
A close second, is it’s most esteemed ‘relation’, the Cullinan II, (317.4 carats rectangular cushion-cut stone) known as The Second Star of Africa. Both these prestigious gems exist within the British Crown Jewels and are definitely not for sale, so no point in wishing.
The uncut Cullinan Diamond, the largest ever discovered, was found in 1905 by Frederick G.S Wells at the Premier Mine in South Africa and named after the Chairman of the mining company.
More transfers were to follow when in 1907 the stone was presented to Edward VII as a goodwill token following the Boer War. Onward then to Amsterdam to be cut by E Asscher, owner of Asscher & Co, considered to be the supreme diamond cutter in all Europe. It was at this point, that serious twinkling really began.
The result – two large crystals, seven medium and over a hundred smaller fragments. The cutting and polishing gave the largest stone, Cullinan I, The Star of Africa, 74 facets in a drop shape weighing 530.2 carats. Set in the royal sceptre, it is the largest colourless cut diamond in the world.
The Cullinan II, The Second Star of Africa, (317.4 carats) takes pride of place in the British Imperial State Crown twinkling brilliantly in the centre front of the crown.
Cullinan I has a hinged mounting so it may be removed to hang as a pendant or paired with the Cullinan II diamond in a brooch. Tiny platinum loops are fitted to the the gems to create this heavenly jewellery piece to be worn by heads of state. This would have to be multi-tasking on a royal scale!
There are another seven ‘relatives’ but it’s the two big stars that command the most attention. Cullinan III and IV (158 carats) is worn regularly by Queen Elizabeth II and fondly referred to as ‘Grannie’s chips’ not to be confused with the configuration you can make with Cullinan I and II (847.6)!
The Cullinan V – VIII diamonds (heart shaped, marquise and cushion shaped) are variously combined to form brooches and a necklace while the pear shaped Cullinan IX sits all alone in a stunning ring.
It’s safe to say that the British Royals know their diamonds as well as knowing how to keep them protected. When times get turbulent, they reach for the biscuit tin and hide them skilfully under the house. Now there’s a tip worth keeping in mind when next you’re leaving town, even if you do happen to have a formidable tower perched on the banks of the Thames.