Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The day the World's Biggest Diamond was found

The uncut World's Largest Diamond

On a sunny day in January 1905 Thomas Powell made his regular descent down the Big Hole diamond mine in South Africa. 

Little is known about this humble employee of Premier Diamond Mining Company. But what is known is that on that January day he emerged from the mine brandishing the largest diamond ever to be ripped from the bowels of the Earth. A diamond so large that it filled his entire hand and weighed in at an astonished 621 grams. 

Thomas took his trophy to his foreman Frederick Wells. Frederick took it to the mine owner Thomas Cullinan. Thomas C. took it to an expert for confirmation that it was indeed what he thought it was. The expert took it... No, the expert didn't take it anywhere. But he confirmed that it was definitely a diamond. And then the terrible question arose - What shall to do with it?

After two years a buyer for the world's largest diamond emerged in the shape of the South African government. The politicians in Pretoria had decided that it would be a nice present for the English monarch King Edward VII on the occasion of his sixty-sixth birthday. And so the diamond was purchased for the sum of $150,000 and then sent across the seas to England.

The almighty diamond was presented to the king on 9 November 1907. And he was ecstatic! But that same terrible question once again arose - What shall we do with it? The decision was taken to have it cut into several stones and to use them to adorn the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.

The job of cutting up the world's largest diamond was entrusted to Joseph Asscher of Amsterdam. Legend has it that he had a doctor in attendance in case his made a fateful error during the cutting and had a heart attack. He completed his work several months later when 9 large stones and 105 little pebbles were delivered to the king.

The largest of the stones, at 530 carats, is now set in the royal sceptre and is known as the Star of Africa (Cullinan I). Next is the Second Star of Africa (Cullinan II) at 317 carats, followed by Cullinan III (94 carats) and Cullinan IV (63 carats). And so on to the minor stones hardly worth talking about.

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