THE GREAT STAR OF AFRICA SHINES IN THE TOWER OF LONDON
Coincidentally, on January 26, 1905, the largest diamond in the world was discovered in the South African mine Premier. Frederick Wells, who was the superintendent of the mine, went into routine inspection and discovered a huge translucent stone of bluish-white glare. At first, he thought it was a joke: he was convinced that the miners, in order to ridicule and confuse him, planted a piece of glass. However, after careful analysis, he realized that he had come to a sensational finding: the diamond, in its raw state, weighed 3106.75 carats, or 622 grams!!! The world’s largest diamond, however, was not named after its inventor but after the owner of the mine, Thomas Cullinan, and later it got a poetic name – “The Great Star of Africa”.
The government of the Transvaal colony, on whose territory a unique jewel was found, donated it in 1907 to then-British King Edward VII for his 66th birthday. It is also interesting how Cullinan traveled to England: in order to deceive the clues and prevent theft, a copy was sent by ship, and the original jewel arrived in England by regular mail. As sensational as the discovery of this giant among diamonds, just as exciting was its processing. Cullinan was sent from England to Amsterdam for a workshop by Joseph Asher, who spent six months studying the internal structure of crystals and figuring out how to divide and process them. In the end, he decided to “pull” nine large and 96 smaller diamonds from the “Great Star of Africa”. The grinding process itself began on March 3, 1908 and lasted eight months. The largest of them – weighing 530.20 carats, shaped like a “tear” brushed into 74 facets – is built in a British royal scepter displayed in the Tower of London in a special collection of crown jewels. The second largest “piece” obtained from a large diamond is called “Cullinan II” and is embedded in the British crown.
Up until 1985 – when the Golden Jubilee was discovered – Cullinan or “The Great Star of Africa” was the largest raw and processed diamond in the world. The imagination is still tickled by the fact that there were clear indications that it is only part of a much larger crystal, but its “lost half” has not been found to date.