Great Star of Africa
June 25, 1905: The world’s largest gem-quality diamond is discovered by Frederick Wells, manager of the Premier Diamond Mining Company in Cullinan, Gauteng, South Africa. It weighed 3,106.75 carats [621.35 g or 21.9 oz]. A larger carbonado, non-gem quality diamond, was found in Brazil weighing 3,600 carats. This largest diamond is named for the owner of the mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan. Wells received $10,000 for the find.
The Cullinan Diamond was purchased for $800,000 and presented to King Edward VII of England. The Asscher Brothers of Amsterdam were given the job of cutting the stone as they had successfully cut the Excelsior, the previous world record diamond. Joseph Asscher studied the gem for three months, trying to determine the proper way to proceed. Finally, on February 10, 1908 at 2:45 PM he took the cleaving blade and placed it at the prearranged point and struck it with his hammer. The blade broke. The gem was unharmed and a second cleaving blade was found. The stone split perfectly.
The first cut produced two massive stones weighing 1,977.50 and 1,040 carats. They were eventually made into nine major stones, 96 brilliants, and 9.5 carats of unpolished pieces. The total weight for the cut stones was 1,063 carats with a 65% cutting loss. The King kept the two largest stones and purchased a “chip” for Queen Alexandra – weighing 11.5 carats.
The largest gem was faceted into the pear shaped 530.2 carat diamond officially known as both The Cullinan Diamond and the Star of Africa. It is part of the Royal Scepter and remains in the Tower of London with the crown jewels. Queen Elizabeth II is the current owner. The Golden Jubilee, another Premier mine diamond, is a larger cut gem weighing 545.67 carats and is owned by King Rama IX, King of Thailand.
“He who finds diamonds must grapple in mud and mire because diamonds are not found in polished stones. They are made.” – unknown
“Next to sound judgment, diamonds and pearls are the rarest things in the world.” – Jean de la Bruyere
“I never hated a man enough to give him his diamonds back.” – Zsa Zsa Gabor
“Diamonds are nothing more than chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs.” – Malcolm S. Forbes
Also on this day, in Harry Thaw murders Sandford White.