April is almost over, but I feel like I would be remiss to let this diamond birthstone month pass without mentioning perhaps the most famous diamond ever discovered, the Cullinan diamond.
The Cullinan diamond was discovered at a mine in the area that was known as the Transvaal in South Africa, in 1905. Weighing 3,106 carats (1.3lb), it was originally cast aside, believed to be too big for any use. The stone is named after the mine’s (then) chairman Thomas Cullinan.
However a buyer for the massive stone was not be found. The stone was then purchased by the Transvaal government for £150,000 and was presented to King Edward VII on his 66th birthday. When the diamond was eventually transported to England it traveled by way of the ordinary parcel post while a decoy was sent on a heavily guarded ship.
The Cullinan was cut into three large parts by Asscher Brothers of Amsterdam, and a number of smaller fragments. There is a story that the diamond cleaver Joseph Asscher promptly fainted after splitting the diamond in half, but this is likely just a myth intended to dramatize the stone's history. Ultimately the rough diamond was cut into nine major stones and ninety-six smaller ones. The two largest were incorporated into the Crown Jewels.
Cullinan I, the Star of Africa
This is the largest stone cut from the Cullinan. The diamond measures 5.9 centimetres (2.3 in) long and weighs 530.4 carats (106.08 g). It is a pear-shaped diamond and is set in the head of the Sovereign's Scepter with Cross. It may be taken out of the scepter and worn as a pendant or suspended from Cullinan II to make a brooch. (Can you imagine the neck ache the pendant would give you!?)
Cullinan II, the Second Star of Africa
This rectangular cushion-cut stone weighs 317.4 carats. It is set in the front cross of the Imperial State Crown, just below the Black Prince's Ruby (which is actually a large spinel).
Cullinan III & IV:
Cullinan III is a pear-cut, 94.4-carat diamond. Cullinan IV is square-cushion-cut and weighs 63.6 carats. They are both known as the Lesser Stars of Africa. They are also affectionately called "Granny's Chips" by Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Mary, the queen consort of George V, had Cullinan III and IV set in the surmounting cross of her newly acquired crown for her coronation in 1911. In 1914, they were removed and replaced by crystal models. Cullinan III is most frequently worn as a brooch, in combination with Cullinan IV. (Both stones could be placed back into the crown, but since Queen Mary's death on 24 March 1953 her crown has remained unworn.)
This is a heart-shaped diamond that weighs 18.8-carats. It is set into the centre of a platinum brooch. The brooch was originally part of a stomacher made for Queen Mary to wear at the Delhi Durbar in 1911.
The mounting of the jewel was designed to be as adaptable as possible. It can be suspended from the VIII brooch and can be used to suspend the VII pendant. It was left all the brooches to Elizabeth II when she died in 1953.
Cullinan VI, VII, & VIII:
Like the V the Cullinan VI-VIII were set with the Delhi Dubar in mind and are all subsequently part of what is called the Dehli Dubar Parure (see above photo).
Cullinan VI is marquise-cut and weighs 8.8 carats. It unusually hangs from the brooch containing Cullinan VIII. Along with the V they formed part of the stomacher of the Delhi Durbar parure.
Cullinan VII is also marquise-cut and weighs 11.5 carats. It was originally given by Edward VII to Queen Alexandra. After his death she gave the stone to Queen Mary, who had it set as a pendant hanging from the diamond and emerald Delhi Durbar Necklace, of the Delhi Durbar parure.
Cullinan VIII is a cushion-cut diamond weighing 6.8 carats. It is set in the centre of a brooch forming part of the stomacher of the Delhi Durbar parure. As mentioned earlier it can be paired with Cullinan VI to form a brooch. Queen Elizabeth II is rarely seen wearing this brooch, however she has worn the Cullinan V many times.
This was the last large diamond that was cut from the Cullinan. It is pear-cut and weighs 4.4 carats. It was mounted into an openwork 12-claw platinum ring setting for Queen Mary.