On January 25, 1905, at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, a 3,106-carat diamond was discovered during a routine inspection by the mine’s superintendent. Weighing 11.33 pounds, and christened the “Cullinan,” it was the largest diamond ever found.
Frederick Wells was 18 feet below the earth’s surface when he spotted a flash of starlight embedded in the wall just above him. His discovery was presented that same afternoon to Sir Thomas Cullinan, who owned the mine. Cullinan then sold the diamond to the Transvaal provincial government, which presented the stone to Britain’s King Edward VII as a birthday gift.
The stone was later cut into nine large stones and about 100 smaller stones. The largest stone is called the Cullinan I at 530 carats, the largest-cut-fine-quality colorless diamond in the world. The second largest stone, the Cullinan II is 317 carats. The stones are on display in the Tower of London with Britain’s other crown jewels; the Cullinan I is mounted in the British Sovereign’s Royal Scepter, while the Cullinan II sits in the Imperial State Crown.
1. CULLINAN DIAMOND 3,106-carats
This picture shows the Cullinan diamond after it was cut into several pieces. The largest cut is 530-carats. Estimated value of the diamond is over $400 million dollars.
2. THE GOLDEN JUBILEE 545.67 Carats
The Golden Jubilee, with the weight of 545.67 carats, is the largest faceted diamond in the world. Rough stone weighed 755 carats and was discovered in Premier mine, South Africa in 1985. The Golden Jubilee was presented to the King of Thailand in 1997 for his Golden Jubilee – the 50th anniversary of his coronation. Prior to this event, the stone was simply known as the Unnamed Brown. Estimated value of the Golden Jubilee is $4-$12 million.
3. THE INCOMPARABLE 407.48 Carats
The Incomparable, in its rough state weighing 890 carats, was found in the town of Mbuji Mayi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) in the 1980s. Four years were spent studying and then cutting the stone, the biggest piece of rough ultimately yielded a gem weighing 407.48 carats; it is the third largest diamond ever cut. Internally flawless clarity and fancy brownish-yellow in color, it measures 53.90 × 35.19 × 28.18 mm.
4. THE CULLINAN II 317.40 Carats
The Cullinan II is the massive 317.40 carat cushion shaped diamond in the center-front of the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain.
5. THE SPIRIT OF DE GRISOGONO 312.24 Carats
The Spirit of de Grisogono, at 312.24 carats, is the world’s largest cut black diamond. In a white gold mounting, it is set with 702 white diamonds totaling 36.69 carats. This diamond originally had a rough weight of 587 carats and was mined several decades ago in west Central Africa before being imported into Switzerland.
6. THE CENTENARY 273.85 Carats
The Centenary was found in Premier mine in 1986, in its rough form it weighed 599 carats. When cutting was completed the Centenary weighed 273.85 carats and measured 39.90 × 50.50 × 24.55 mm, and had 247 facets – 164 on the stone and 83 around its girdle. Never before had such a high number of facets been polished onto a diamond. The true value of the Centenary diamond is unknown, but the diamond was insured for around $100 million in 1991.
7. THE JUBILEE 245.35 Carats
The Jubilee is a colorless cushion-shaped diamond with a weight of 245.35 carats. The original rough stone, an irregular octahedron without definite faces or shape weighed 650.80 carats and was found in the Jagersfontein Mine towards the end of 1895. When during the cutting it became evident that a superb diamond of exceptional purity and size was being produced, it was planned to present it to Queen Victoria. In the end this did not happen and the diamond remained with its owners. The following year marked the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria (the 75th anniversary of her coronation) so the gem was renamed the Jubilee to commemorate the occasion.
8. THE DE BEERS 234.65 Carats
The De Beers diamond was found in Kimberly mines in 1888, the rough stone weighed 428.50 carats. After its display in Paris the Maharaja of Patiala bought the De Beers. In 1928 Cartier of Paris set it as the centerpiece of a ceremonial necklace that came to be known as the Patiala Necklace. The necklace originally contained about 2,930 diamonds weighing about 962.25 carats. Today’s whereabouts of the De Beers diamond and the Patiala necklace is unknown.
9. THE RED CROSS 205.07 Carats
The Red Cross is canary yellow cushion-shaped diamond with weight of 205.07 carats. The rough stone weighed 375 carats and was found in Kimberly mines (South Africa) in 1901. The diamond was presented as a gift to the art sale held in London by Christies in 1918, on behalf of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John.
10. THE MILLENNIUM STAR 203.04 Carats
The Millennium Star is internally and externally a flawless pear-shaped diamond. Originally a rough stone of 777 carats.