British Sovereign's Sceptre with Cullinan I Diamond

British Sovereign's Sceptre with Cullinan I Diamond

A History of the Coronation Ceremony of the British Monarchy

A c. 1661 CE portrait by John Michael Wright of Charles II of England (r. 1660-1685 CE) wearing his royal regalia. The orb and sceptre have been used in English/British coronation ceremonies ever since and are part of the British Crown Jewels. (Royal Collection, Hampton Court Place, England). / Wikimedia Commons

The earliest English coronation that is recorded in detail was the crowning of the Anglo-Saxon King Edgar (ruled 959-975 CE) in 953 CE.

By Mark Cartwright

The World’s Most Expensive Diamonds

We love diamonds – after all who doesn’t? (For those of you that prefer other gemstones, don’t worry, we have those too.) Diamonds get their glittery appeal thanks to natural chemistry. When heat and pressure deep under the surface of the Earth combine, they force carbon atoms to rearrange, which is how we end up with natural diamonds. We then rely on volcanic eruptions and other geological forces to push diamonds closer to the surface, which allows us to mine them. After all that, only a fraction of diamonds meet the requirements a jeweler is looking for – clarity, color, cut, and carat weight.

With all of these criteria in play, some diamonds come with a dramatic backstory. Dive in with us as we explore some of the tales history has bestowed on these famous diamonds.

Some diamonds are special because of their unusual color. One such example of this is the Hope Diamond. Weighing in at a whopping 45.52 carats, it contains shades of blue and gray and a legacy as colorful as the diamond itself. The Hope Diamond’s legacy begins in India in 1600, where it is said to have been stolen from a statue of the Hindu goddess Sita. From there, it has traversed the world from India to France to England to its present home in the Natural Museum of History in New York, where it has lived since 1958.

Along the way, there are rumors of tragedy befalling those who have dared handle it – from being torn apart by dogs, facing the guillotine (sorry, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette), gambling debts, illnesses, and general family misfortune. Perhaps it’s safest that the Hope Diamond is under lock and key with no one owner these days, especially with its current value rumored to be $250 million.

Similar to the Hope Diamond, the Orlov Diamond is said to have originated from India as well. What happens from there depends on which version of history you want to believe. Was it pried from the eye of an idol in an Indian temple by a deserter of the French Army in the 1700s? Or maybe it was stolen following the 1747 assassination of Nader Shah, King of Persia.

Either way, the diamond clearly didn’t have auspicious beginnings. It made its way to Russia where its first instance of documented history appears in the early 1770s. The diamond was acquired by Count Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov for his lover, Russian Empress Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great. She rejected his affections, but kept the diamond – and had it mounted in the Imperial Sceptre. It is believed to weigh in around 190 carats, and remains part of Russia’s regalia, on display at the Kremlim Armoury in Moscow.

Unlike the other two diamonds listed above, the Great Star of Africa doesn’t have nebulous beginnings – or endings. Instead, it has the distinction of being the world’s largest diamond – or part of it. The original diamond was found in South Africa in 1905 and weighed in at about 3,106 carats, or just under 1.5 pounds. The stone itself was named for Sir Thomas Cullinan, who had discovered the mine three years prior. It was later presented to the British monarchy as a gift. Due to the stone’s size and weight, it was cut into nine large stones and 100 smaller ones by I.J. Asscher and Company (yes, that Asscher of the Asscher cut).

The largest of these cuts is known as the Great Star of Africa, or Cullinan I, and weighs more than 530 carats. It was cut into a pear shape gem and set into the British monarchy’s Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross. Incidentally, the second largest of the Cullinan diamonds cut is now part of the Imperial State Crown. That means two of the British monarchy’s crown jewels owe part of their good looks to the Cullinan Diamond. Today, their value is almost immeasurable, with some estimates as high as $400 million.

With some sordid tales and royal bearings, these diamonds have certainly earned their reputation among the world’s most famous diamonds. We may not have the size of these diamonds on hand, but we certainly have some certified beauties that we’d love to show you. If you’re interested in buying or selling diamonds, look no further than Samuelson’s. We have nearly 100 years of buying and selling gems behind us – and we make sure they all are of guaranteed origin. No tales of woe here!

Call us today or contact us online to request an appointment with one of our certified experts today!

14 of the Biggest Royal Diamonds

14. The Stuart Diamond: With a history that begins at the English court of King William III and Queen Mary, this light blue-green, 39.75 carat diamond is one of the most important pieces in the Dutch royal collection. For a century, it’s been set in a tiara (worn above by Queen Juliana), but it hasn’t been seen in public in decades.

Alex Wong/Newsmakers

13. The Dresden Green Diamond: Part of the Saxon crown jewels, this remarkable green diamond weighs in at 40.70 carats. It’s on display today, set in a hat clasp ornament, in the New Green Vault at Dresden Castle.

Wikimedia Commons

12. The Sancy Diamond: This 55.23 carat pale yellow diamond has a lengthy royal history at various times, it was part of the crown jewel collections of Portugal, France, and England. Nancy Astor wore it in her grand diamond tiara a century ago, but today, it is on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Wikimedia Commons

11. The Noor-al-Ain Diamond: This pink diamond, which weighs approximately 60 carats, was originally mined in India. The “light of the eye” was captured by an 18th-century Persian king and has been in Iran ever since. Harry Winston set it in a tiara for Farah Pahlavi in 1958 that tiara is on display today at the Central Bank in Tehran.


10. The Hope Diamond: It’s generally believed that this famously “cursed” diamond is actually the French Blue, which belonged to the French royal family until it was stolen during the Reign of Terror. Originally measuring 67.125 carats, the stone was later cut down to its present size, 45.52 carats. Today, it’s on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.


9. The Archduke Joseph Diamond: This 76.02 carat diamond takes its name from its first recorded owner, Archduke Joseph August of Austria. Sold just before World War II, the diamond has been auctioned several times, and is now in a private collection.

Wikimedia Commons

8. The Shah Diamond: The Russian Diamond Fund, which is housed in the Kremlin, includes this unusual diamond. Weighing 88.7 carats, the stone is engraved with the names of three of its owners in Persian. It arrived in the Russian imperial jewel collection as a goodwill offering (or bribe, depending how you look at it) in 1829.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

7. The Koh-i-Noor Diamond: Today, this diamond (whose name means “mountain of light”) lives in the Tower of London, where it is set in the Queen Mother’s Crown. Queen Victoria received the gem as a gift in 1849, although the terms of that offering are still controversial today. Prince Albert had the stone recut to its present weight, 105.602 carats, in 1852.

Wikimedia Commons

6. The Regent Diamond: An English merchant, Thomas Pitt, sold this diamond, which was mined in India, to Philippe, Duke of Orleans (then the French Regent) in 1717. The 140.64 carat diamond was worn by various French kings — and Napoleon Bonaparte, too — and eventually set in a tiara for Empress Eugenie. Today, it is on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Wikimedia Commons

5. The Darya-i-Noor Diamond: Another gem from the crown jewel collection of Iran, this pink diamond (whose name means “sea of light”) weighs about 182 carats. It’s on display today at the Central Bank in Tehran.

Wikimedia Commons

4. The Orloff Diamond: The Russian Diamond Fund also includes this incredible 189.62 carat diamond. It was presented to Catherine the Great by one of her lovers, Count Grigory Orloff. She had a scepter constructed specifically for the diamond in 1784.

Wikimedia Commons, LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

3. The Cullinan II Diamond: One of nine major diamonds cut from the gargantuan Cullinan Diamond, the Cullinan II weighs 317.4 carats. Also called the Second Star of Africa, the diamond is part of the British crown jewels. You can see it at the Tower of London in the Imperial State Crown, where it’s set just below the Black Prince’s Ruby.

Wikimedia Commons

2. The Cullinan I Diamond: The largest of the diamonds sourced from the Cullinan, this stone measures 530.2 carats. It’s the largest clear cut diamond in the world. Also called the Great Star of Africa, the diamond is set in the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, which resides at the Tower of London with the rest of the British crown jewels.

Wikimedia Commons

1. The Golden Jubilee Diamond: The largest cut diamond in the world, this yellow-brown stone clocks in at 545.67 carats. It was offered to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand as a Golden Jubilee gift, and it’s still a part of the Thai crown jewel collection today.

British Sovereign's Sceptre with Cullinan I Diamond - History

It was found in the 'big hole' of the Premier Diamond Mine, located in Cullinan, East of Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Folklore stories abound in connection with large mining finds it was rumoured that the diamond was found right next to the discoloured rock pattern in the centre of this photograph - a discolouration that is roughly heart-shaped! The credit for finding the diamond was given to the miner Thomas Evan Powell who found it on January 26, 1905. He received a substantial award for his find (and his honesty in handing it over). The mine and the diamond were named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the original mine owner.

Sir Thomas Cullinan
The Transvaal government bought the rough diamond from the mine for 150,000 pounds. Transvaal Prime Minister Louis Botha's proposal to give the Cullinan to King Edward VII was approved by the Transvaal Parliament and the rough diamond was accepted by the King in a 66th birthday presentation on 9th November 1907. It must be remembered that this was a period very shortly after the Boer War which had led to much bitterness between the Boers and the British. It was thought that this gesture might help reconcile the two sides to a certain extent.

Transporting it from South Africa to England caused much anxiety to the authorities. In a novel plan, detectives from London were placed on a steamboat that was rumoured to carry the stone. The stone on that ship was actually a fake, meant to attract those who would be interested in stealing it. The actual diamond was sent to England in a plain box via parcel post, albeit registered! The Crown Jewels

Replicas of the Stones
The British authorities awarded the Amsterdam firm of I. J. Asscher and Company the order to cut the stone. Mr. Joseph Asscher, the firm's principal, studied the stone for three months, assessing the stress fault and the optimum facets on which to cut. His first strike broke the cutter blade, mercifully with no damage to the diamond. His second stroke was perfect and split the stone as planned along the fault line. It was reported that Mijnheer Asscher promptly fainted with relief, though this account of events is disputed! The two stones were then further cleaved into nine major stones plus a large number of smaller stones.

You can see a collection of replica cut stones against a replica of the uncut stone here

The nine originals are classed as Flawless and form part of the British Crown Jewels, with the 530 carat 'Star of Africa' topping the Sovereign's Royal Sceptre. It is also known as the Cullinan 1 diamond and it is approximately the same size and shape as a regular chicken egg.

The 'Second (or Lesser) Star of Africa' is 317 carats, and it adorns the Imperial State Crown. It is sometimes called the Cullinan 2 diamond. Premier Diamond Mine

Premier Mine
The mine currently produces about 1,000,000 carats of diamonds annually which is not a particularly high yield. 1 carat = 200 mg, therefore 1,000,000 carats is the equivalent of 200kg. Approximately 80% of the output comprises industrial diamonds, with the remaining 20% being of gem quality diamonds. Nowadays, it employs just 1,200 people. The mine was sold to Petra Diamonds by De Beers in 2008.

The mine has produced other notable diamonds over the years such as the 545 carat Golden Jubilee and the 273 carat Millennium Star.

I opted for the mine surface tour which starts with a 10 minute video and this is followed by a guided walking tour.

Here, you can see the entrance to the mine compound.

Diamonds are formed at a depth of 120 to 200 km below the earth's surface and they are 100% carbon. The right combination of temperature, pressure & chemistry can lead to carbon atoms bonding and crystallising in to diamonds.

If diamonds are found in river beds & estuaries the type of mining process is called alluvial. Inland mining requires kimberlite pipes to bring the diamonds to the surface, usually by means of a volcano. The Premier Diamond Mine is situated atop an extinct volcano.

The winder moves the ore-carrying skips up and down the mineshaft via the headgear.

Spare skips are ready to be installed when needed.

All the mining is underground nowadays. The workings are down to 800 metres below the surface and there are 700 km of shafts & tunnels!

Old Mining Machinery
The mine shop kindly lets you know what to look for when buying a diamond. They provide all sorts of charts to help you understand the intricacies of the high-end diamond industry.

The surface tour took about 90 minutes and I found it most interesting and well presented. The cost was ZAR 60 (approximately 5.50 pounds sterling).

Outside the mine there are static exhibits of some weird and wonderful examples of old mining machinery. Cullinan Town

Local Architecture
I've noticed in some literature that Cullinan is still described as a village, but it has definitely grown in to a small town over the years. It has pleasant tree lined streets.

It's also a very laid back town and it's a pleasure just to stroll around.

Much of the architectural style is original or pseudo Victorian and Edwardian. Cafes and gift shops abound.

Cullinan Diamonds

Cullinan diamond is a fascinating stone which found in South Africa in 1905, the largest stone to be cut from the Cullinan Diamond was the 'Cullinan 1' - also known as 'The Star of Africa'. It is a 530.2 carat, pear shaped diamond and the largest polished white diamond in the world. It is now mounted in the head of the Royal Septre as part of the British Crown Jewels. Now we are able to cut the finest diamond simulation --- cubic zirconia that you can buy. The shape of the facets create incredible sparkle. It's one of fake diamond cubic zirconia. If you are love to buy a Cullinan Diamond replica CZ, please contact us today.

The Legendary Cullinan Diamond

Cullinan Diamond History

Cullinan Diamond Rough Replica

Cullinan Diamond Rough Replica CZ

Cullinan Diamond Rough Replica

Incorporated into the Crown Jewels are stones cut from the magnificent Cullinan Diamond – the largest diamond ever found.

The stone was discovered near Pretoria in South Africa on 26 January 1905, and is named after the chairman of the mining company, Thomas Cullinan. In its uncut state, it weighed 3,106 metric carats and boasted a size of 101 x 63.5 x 59 mm(deep). This scale, coupled with its extraordinary blue-white colour and exceptional clarity, made it the most celebrated diamond in the world.

In 1907 the Cullinan was presented to King Edward VII by the Government of the Transvaal. It was a symbolic gesture intended to heal the rift between Britain and South Africa following the Boer War. After initial hesitation, the King accepted the gift on the recommendation of the British Government. The stone was taken under heavy police escort to Sandringham, and formally presented on the King's 66th birthday.

Cutting this extraordinary diamond posed a considerable challenge. The stone was dispatched to the leading diamond cutters of the day, Asschers of Amsterdam, where experts spent weeks considering the best method for splitting it. It took four days to prepare the groove for the cleaving knife, and the very first blow broke the knife rather than the diamond. Finally, on 10 February 1908, Joseph Asscher split the stone into two. Over the next eight months, three men worked for 14 hours a day to cut and polish nine large stones from the original diamond. Each of these stones was given a number from I to IX, and today they are still referred to in this way. 97 small brilliants and some unpolished fragments were also created.

After King Edward's death in 1910, King George V had Cullinan I and II set in the Sovereign's Sceptre and Imperial State Crown respectively. Both these stones are still in the regalia today. The remaining numbered diamonds were kept by Asschers as payment for their work. Cullinan VI and VIII were later brought privately by King Edward VII as a gift for Queen Alexandra, and the others were acquired by the South African Government and given to Queen Mary in 1910, in memory of the Inauguration of the Union. They were bequeathed to Her Majesty The Queen in 1953.

Did you know?

Until 1815 you used to be able to pay a small donation to the jewel house keeper to handle the Crown Jewels. Unfortunately, this opportunity ended when the Imperial State Crown of King George I got bent out of shape by an eager visitor.

Made of gold, the orb features 365 diamonds and is set with pearls, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and one large amethyst. During the ceremony, it’s placed in the right hand of the monarch, before being placed on the altar. An expression of the monarch’s authority, the tradition of a monarch receiving the orb dates back to Roman times.

Gems similar to or like Cullinan Diamond

Underground diamond mine owned by Petra Diamonds in the town of Cullinan, 40 km east of Pretoria, Gauteng Province, South Africa. Renamed the Cullinan Diamond Mine in November 2003 in celebration of its centenary. Wikipedia

Gem-quality diamond, and was the largest known diamond in the world from the time of its discovery in 1893 until 1905, when the larger Cullinan Diamond was found. Found on June 30, 1893 at the Jagersfontein Mine in South Africa, 130 km south east of Kimberley whose fame as a diamond mining center always overshadowed that of Jagersfontein. Wikipedia

Small town in the Gauteng province of South Africa. Located 30 km east of the city of Pretoria along the diamond route and is heavily reliant on tourism and the mine that dominates the skyline. Wikipedia

Journey to England

In 1905, due to the immense value of the Cullinan, the authorities in charge of the transportation were posed with a huge potential security problem. Detectives from London were placed on a steamboat that was rumored to carry the stone, where a parcel was ceremoniously placed in the Captain's safe and guarded throughout the entire journey. However this was a diversionary tactic. The stone on that ship was a fake, meant to attract those who would be interested in stealing it. The actual diamond was sent to England in a plain box via parcel post, albeit registered. [10] Upon receiving the stone safely in England Sir Francis Hopwood and Mr. Richard Solomon (the Agent-General of the Transvaal government in London) travelled from London to Sandringham, Norfolk by train, accompanied by just two experienced Scotland Yard policemen. They reached their destination safely, despite reports of a potential robbery looming. Later that day, King Edward invested Solomon as a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO). [11]

The Cullinan Diamond

The Cullinan Diamond was approximately 10 centimetres long, and over 6 centimetres wide, 3,107 carats and 62 g when mined in January 1905. It was named after Thomas Cullinan, the Chairman of the Premier Two mine in South Africa, where it was discovered. The Transvaal Colony government bought the Cullinan and presented it to Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom, who had it cut by Joseph Asscher & Co. in Amsterdam.

This diamond produced stones of various cuts and sizes. The largest of these is the Cullinan I or the Great Star of Africa (530 carats, 106 g), the largest clear cut diamond in the world. It is a brilliant 74 faceted pendeloque cut (a variation on the round brilliant) mounted in the head of the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross.

The Cullinan II or the Second Star of Africa, is a cushion cut brilliant weighing 317 carats 63 g. It is mounted in the Imperial State Crown.

Both are part of the Crown Jewels. Seven other major diamonds, weighing a total of 208carats (42 g), are privately owned by Elizabeth II, who inherited them from her grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1953.

Cullinan III, or the Lesser Star of Africa, is pear-cut and weighs 94.4 carats (18.88 g). It has often adorned Queen Elizabeth as a brooch and in combination with the Cullinan IV.

The Queen also owns minor brilliants and a set of unpolished fragments.

The Cullinan

When travelling to London from South Africa, attention was focussed on a protected steamboat that was bearing a parcel that was locked safe and guarded on the entire journey. This was a diversion, that parcel was a decoy. The highly valuable rough Cullinan was sent via registered post in a plain box to the United Kingdom!

In 1908 a Royal Navy ship, to much fanfare, carried a box, purportedly with the Cullinan in it. This too was a deception as Joseph Asscher had personally collected it from the Colonial Office and returned to Amsterdam, and mercifully without incident, by public transport with the, as yet uncut, diamond in his coat pocket!

Having retrieved the diamond safely, the Asscher family embarked on of the most complex cutting exercise in their history. It was calculated that the stone could be cleaved into two and from thence, into smaller elements. New tools were created to deal with a stone of this magnitude and value. A month was spent on making a vital incision, the basis of the strike that would either result in a clean cleave and success or a diamond in smithereens. Asscher’s adeptitude and perseverence resulted in success. It took six months to finesse and polish the Cullinan 1 alone, and ninety six smaller stones resulting from the major works were retained as the fee.

Watch the video: Cullinan Diamond The Sovereigns Sceptre Crown Jewels copy replica fake faux reproduction replica