1905, South Africa: The place was the Premier mine in Transvaal. The person blessed with the find was an ordinary worker. The treasure was the largest diamond ever found. The rough diamond was weighed to abut 3,106 carats - a one-carat polished stone is about 6.5 mm. The diamond was not named after its anonymous discoverer, but after Sir Thomas Cullinan, who had founded the mine three years earlier. In 1907, the Transvaal government gifted the diamond to King Edward VII of Great Britain.
The King long pondered what to do with a diamond the size of a grapefruit. Finally he decided to have it cut into smaller, but still rather impressive pieces. The Asscher brothers of Amsterdam were given the prestigious task. Two thirds of the crystal's weight were lost in the process, yet one hundred and five stones were cut from it.
How to transport the most valuable diamond in the world proved a bit of a headache, for diamond thieves strike when one least expects. Simple tricks did the trick, as they often do. From Transvaal to London a box was sent under strict security, yet contained nothing. The real diamond had been sent as a registered packet as ordinary mail. When the gemstone was to go to Amsterdam, the Royal Navy transported another empty box across the North Sea, while Abraham Asscher travelled unescorted to the Netherlands with the diamond safely hidden in his pocket.
The most distinguished stones:
- Great Star of Africa
, is the largest polished gemstone in the world and placed in the British Royal Sceptre
Cullinan II - Lesser Star of Africa, can be found on the British Imperial Crown.
Cullinan III and IV - originally parts of a flower in the crown of Queen Mary, they now decorate a brooch sometimes worn by the reigning monarch.
The rest were scattered randomly around the British crown jewels.