Tiara from the Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration exhibition
Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration

The Cullinan Diamond

Listen to Gemmologist Christopher Cavey discussing the discovery of the Cullinan Diamond

The celebrated Cullinan Diamond is the largest diamond ever found. Weighing 3,106 metric carats in its rough state and measuring over 10cm in length, it is notable for its size, its extraordinary blue-white colour and exceptional purity.

The Cullinan Diamond was discovered in January, 1905 at the Premier Mine in South Africa and named after the chairman of the mining company, Thomas Cullinan. In November, 1907 it was formally presented to King Edward VII as a token of loyalty.

The gift did not include the cost of cutting the stone and it was decided that this be entrusted to the celebrated firm of I.J. Asscher of Amsterdam.

A painstaking eight months of work on the diamond began in February 1908, when it was split by Joseph Asscher, and then cut, ground and polished by three polishers working 14 hour days. The result was nine principal numbered stones, 96 small brilliants and nine carats of unpolished fragments.

This exhibition presents in public for the first time seven of the nine principal stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond. These are set in brooches, a ring and a necklace. The remaining two form part of the Crown Jewels.