Published On: Thu, May 26th, 2022

A look at the Queen’s Cullinan Diamonds collection weighing over 1000 carats

The Cullinan Diamond is the largest diamond ever found, and it was unearthed near Pretoria in South Africa in the early 20th Century. Uncut, the enormous gem weighed 3,106 carats and it was presented to King Edward VII by the Transvaal government in 1907, in the hopes of building a good relationship between Britain and South Africa in the aftermath of the Boer War. The diamond was cut into nine large stones, some of which take pride of place in the Crown Jewels, and nearly 100 small brilliants were also created. spoke to Daniel O’Farrell; Founder, Bespoke Jeweller and Diamond Expert at DC Jewellery, about the Cullinan Diamond collection.

Cullinan I and II – The Great Star of Africa and the Second Star of Africa

The two largest Cullinan Diamonds are part of the Queen’s Crown Jewels, and the Great Star of Africa is the pendeloque-cut centrepiece of the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross.

The Cullinan II, or the Second Star of Africa, was incorporated into the Imperial State Crown and has been worn by the Queen on important state occasions throughout her reign and at her 1953 coronation.

The task of cutting the Cullinan Diamond was delegated to the Asschers of Amsterdam, the masterminds behind the iconic Asscher-cut diamond that remains popular today.

Mr O’Farrell said: “The larger of the two called Cullinan I, the Greater Star of Africa, is a pear-shaped diamond of 76 facets, weighing around 530.2 carats and measuring around one inch in thickness at its deepest segment.

“Cullinan II, the Lesser Star of Africa is a cushion-shaped diamond of 317.4 carats. Cullinans I and II were fitted with loops to be worn as a brooch, where Cullinan I was suspended from Cullinan II.”

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Mr O’Farrell explained: “Cullinan III is a second pear-shaped diamond of 94.4 carats, while Cullinan IV is a square-shaped diamond of 63.6 carats.

“Cullinan III is suspended from Cullinan IV to form the second most expensive royal jewel, worth over £50 million, known fondly as ‘Granny’s Chips’.

“In 1910, the South African government gifted Queen Mary Cullinans III and IV, as well as the rest of the collection of the nine big Cullinan diamonds and all the small chippings.

“Ever the innovator when it came to jewellery, Queen Mary set Cullinans III and IV onto her 1911 coronation crown, later onto her Delhi Durbar Tiara, used them as pendants on her Coronation Necklaces and her Ladies of India emerald necklace and wore them as a brooch to numerous important family functions, including the wedding of the then Princess Elizabeth.”

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“It is reportedly one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite brooches, worn most memorably for the official portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh’s 99th birthday.”

Cullinan VI is 11.5 carats and it is a marquise-cut. The stunning gem is often worn as a brooch with the Cullinan VIII oblong-cut diamond that weighs 6.8 carats.

Cullinan VII weighs 8.8 carats and like Cullinan VI is also a marquise-cut, and it often makes an appearance on Queen Mary’s Delhi Durbar necklace.

And the final large diamond weighing in at 4.39 carats is the Cullinan IX, which is a pear-cut stone and was set into a ring.

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