Biggest Diamond in the World
The Cullinan


The Premier mine, which is found in Pretoria, South Africa, was the site of an incredible discovery on January 25, 1905. During a customary inspection of the main, Frederick Wells, who was a mine supervisor, stumbled upon a 3,106-carat diamond, while he was 18 feet below ground. At the time, he saw a speck of light just above him, which compelled him to check things out.

Cullinan - The Biggest Diamond in the World Cut into Smaller DiamondsCullinan - The Biggest Diamond in the World Cut into Smaller Diamonds
Image: Wikipedia

The light was reflecting one of the sun’s rays. Initially, Wells thought he was looking at a piece of glass, but he scaled the wall to get a closer look. He soon realized that this was no piece of glass, but he believed it to be a large diamond crystal. It was after extensive rounds of testing were performed that it was revealed to be the largest diamond of gem quality that the world had ever seen.

Though Wells was the one that discovered the diamond, his superior, Sir Thomas Cullinan was the owner of the Premier mine. Though he owned it, he wasn't always present, but he just happened to be there when all the festivities took place. The incredible diamond weighed 1.33 pounds, and it still stands as the largest rough diamond that has ever been found. It was named the Cullinan Diamond after Sir Cullinan.

Cullinan Diamond in the Rough Cullinan - The Largest Rough Diamond in the World
Image: Wikipedia

Selling the Largest Diamond in the World

Following the discovery, Cullinan was faced with the choice of what to do with the world's largest diamond. He eventually settled on selling it to the Transvaal Provincial government. This led to the diamond’s presentation to King Edward VI of Britain. It was given to him as a 66th birthday gift at the time.

Travel Arrangements for the Largest Diamond Ever Found

As you can expect, such a rare find was incredibly valuable, and so the King worried that it may be pillaged during the journey from South Africa to London. Therefore, he came up with a ploy to create a diversion and minimize risk.

This arrangement saw him have a phony stone loaded onto a steamer ship with numerous detectives. Surely, persons who potentially wanted to steal the diamond would not only believe that it was aboard a ship with such heavy security, but they would also think twice about attempting to steal it.

The King then had the real diamond brought to England in an unassuming box. Without the fanfare surrounding it, no one would suspect what the real cargo was.

The Cutting of the Largest Diamond

The next order of business was for the rough stone to be cut. Joseph Asscher, who was the head of Amsterdam’s Asscher Diamond Company, was the one who was entrusted with the operation. In 1893, Asher had successfully taken part in the cutting of the renowned Excelsior diamond. For context, that was a 971-carat diamond.

Asher was a thorough man, which is the reason that he was chosen. Before he attempted to cut the diamond, he spent six months studying it, so he could carry out his operation optimally. Unfortunately, he initially miscalculated, which led to the steel blade that he used getting broken by the diamond with no effect on the stone.

The second time was the charm, however, as Asscher executed his diamond cutting plan flawlessly. This was a very important job, and one that Asscher could not afford to mess up. So, it is understandable why he fainted from nervous exhaustion once the cut was complete.

Commercializing the Largest Diamond in the World

After the initial cut, the Cullinan Diamond was then cut into nine large stones and 96 smaller ones. The smaller prized pieces are sold in places, such as De Beers.

The largest of the cuts is known as the Cullinan I or the Star of Africa I. This is a 530-carat diamond, which has the distinction of being the largest colorless and fine quality diamond in the world. The second and third cuts were known as the Cullinan II and the Cullinan III respectively.

The Great Star of Africa Diamond - The Largest Diamond Cut from The Cullinan DiamondThe Great Star of Africa Diamond - The Largest Diamond Cut from The Cullinan Diamond
Image: Wikipedia

Is There a Larger Diamond Than the Largest Diamond in the World?

I'm aware it sounds weird, how can there be something larger than the largest...?

But, after analyzing the Cullinan diamond, Sir William Crookes determined that it was likely a piece of a larger one. The middle of the stone featured a black spot, which was not an uncommon feature for diamonds to have. However, the colors that could be seen around the spots were not faded, which indicated that there may have been A separation from a bigger piece.

The texture of the diamond on one side was also an indicator of this, as it was remarkably smooth. The conclusion here, which some have blatantly expressed is nothing more than a rumor, is that the Cullinan Diamond got separated from the whole by natural forces.

What makes this interesting is the potential size that the diamond used to be. As big as the Cullinan Diamond is, it is believed that it is not the larger part of the arrangement. In fact, Crookes concluded that the diamond accounted for less than half of the complete rock size.

Of course, this theory inspired numerous miners and prospectors, who hope to recover the other part of the diamond.

Where Is the World's Biggest Diamond Now?

After King Edward VI passed in 1910, the Cullinan I diamond was placed in the Sovereign's Royal Scepter and the Cullinan II diamond was placed in the Imperial State Crown. The decision to make the diamonds into crown jewels was made by King George V.

The other large stones, of which King Edward VII desired two, were retained by the Asschers as payment for cutting the initial piece. King Edward VII eventually purchased Cullinan VI and VIII privately. He wanted them to present to Queen Alexandra as gifts. The other numbered diamonds would then find their way to the South African government, and eventually into the hands of Queen Mary. These were bequeathed to the Queen in 1953 to remember the Inauguration of the Union.

Battle for the Title of the Largest Diamond in the World

Some people who are familiar with the Cullinan Diamond think of it as the overall largest diamond that the world has ever seen. While that was once true, is the rock no longer completely has the title. It remains the largest uncut diamond that has ever existed. However, it no longer holds the distinction in the world of polished stones. That distinction belongs to The Golden Jubilee Diamond, which is a 546-carat diamond that was discovered in 1985.