The Cullinan II is one of nine major diamonds cut from the largest piece of gem quality diamond ever discovered, the Cullinan stone. Late one afternoon in 1905, Mr Frederick Wells, superintendent of the prolific Premier Mine in South Africa, was making a routine inspection. He noticed something bright glinting in the mine wall several feet above him and so quickly climbed up to investigate. At first he thought that somebody was playing a practical joke and that he had been tricked by a large piece of glass. Tests quickly proved to the contrary. He had discovered a massive piece of rough diamond weighing some 3106 carats.
Sir Thomas Cullinan
The stone was named the Cullinan after Sir Thomas Cullinan who opened the mine and who had been visiting on that eventful day. It was sold to the Transvaal government which presented it to King Edward VII on his 66th birthday on 9th November 1907. A decoy of the stone was sent under heavy guard via steam ship to London in order to throw any would be thieves off the scent of the real stone. Meanwhile this was posted via Royal Mail in an unmarked box!
The House of Asscher
To cut the Cullinan, King Edward chose the House of Asscher in Amsterdam. After months of study, everything finally came down to a single blow from a steel cleaver’s blade. Mr Asscher brought down the blade – which instantly broke on impact! A second attempt cleaved the stone exactly as planned, upon which Mr Asscher promptly fainted! Several more cleaves produced the nine major stones that we know today, Cullinans I to IX.
The Imperial State Crown
King Edward pledged to maintain the Cullinan as a part of the Crown Jewels where the subsequent stones remain today. The Cullinan II ended up as a 317.40 carat cushion shaped diamond, the fourth largest polished diamond in the world. It now sits in the centre front of the Imperial State Crown and is on display at the Tower of London. It is fitted with two tiny platinum loops which also allow it to be worn as a brooch, alone or together with the Cullinan I.
If you have any diamonds that you would like to have valued then please contact Simon Rufus at Grand Auctions in Folkestone, Kent for a free auction valuation.
- Posted by Simon Rufus