January 27, 2023

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The world’s largest diamond was gifted to Queen Elizabeth II and is now claimed by South Africa.

The Cullinan, also known as the Southern Star after Jules Verne, is the largest diamond discovered in human history.

The world holds within itself endless incredible things of all shapes, sizes, colors and textures. In this accumulation of earth-preserving materials, you’ll find rocks and minerals, each with different values. In the mineral industry, there are all kinds of minerals, but what is undeniable is that there are some that are more sought after and preferred than others, either because of their rarity or because of their great monetary value, such as diamonds. A precious stone with high economic value and maximum hardness.

Writer Julio Verne He had an extraordinary foresight. Among his other literary predictions, in The Star of the South (L’Étoile du sud) he recounted an incredibly true story shortly before his death: in his novel he described a large diamond that mysteriously disappeared. January 1905 The largest diamond ever discovered in history was discovered: Cullinan.

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The world’s brightest invention

The word diamond comes from Greek words “diamonds” or “diamonds” It means invincible, unconquerable, tough. Diamond is a crystalline form of carbon that forms from extreme heat and pressure. Its crystals have the form of compact or rounded granular masses; They often have octahedral and dodecahedral shapes, which are rarer in cubes. They impress with their extraordinary toughness, their intelligence and luminosity.

The diamonds known to the Romans must have come from India, a source known only until the 18th century. Precious stones.

No single individual can afford Cullinan.  So, two years later, in 1907, General Louis Botha asked the Transvaal Chamber to authorize the Pretoria government to purchase a diamond for £150,000 to present to British King Edward VII (Photo by Koichi Kamoshita/Getty Images)
No single individual can afford Cullinan. So, two years later, in 1907, General Louis Botha asked the Transvaal Chamber to authorize the Pretoria government to purchase a diamond for £150,000 to present to British King Edward VII (Photo by Koichi Kamoshita/Getty Images)

Cullinan also known as Star of the South after Jules Verne The largest diamond discovered in the entire history of mankind. The gem was formed in the Earth’s mantle billions of years ago, taking that time to travel hundreds of kilometers from the surface, separated from the surface by the rock that contained it, dragged by magma. On January 25, 1905, Frederick Wells, surface manager of the Premier Diamond Mining Company, discovered a mine excavation in the Transvaal near Pretoria, South Africa, on January 25, 1905, which had been seized from the British colony. Boers after World War II.

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In the afternoon Wells, on his evening survey, saw the reflection of the sun a few meters from the surface of the mine’s open pit. It is said in some stories Cullinan was first noticed by a black worker. He pointed out his own discovery to the manager. It is certain that Wells climbed up the side wall of the pit he had opened and extracted the material with his knife; It’s a big piece.

The manager took the newly discovered gem to the mine offices, where legend has it that it was initially dismissed as a diamond and thrown out the window. Wells soon recovered it, and upon examination found it to be a diamond of the purest quality with properties never seen before.

The news caused a sensation and journalists started talking about the “Cullinan Diamond” -referring to Sir Thomas Cullinan, the head of the mining company-, so the name stuck. There was an expectation that it would be necessary when taking it to Johannesburg It was put on public display at the Standard Bank and thousands of curious people visited it.

St. Edward's Crown, which has not left the Tower of London for 60 years, is on display during a service celebrating the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's coronation at Westminster Abbey in London, England.  June 4, 2013 REUTERS/Jack Hill/Pool
St. Edward’s Crown, which has not left the Tower of London for 60 years, is on display during a service celebrating the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation at Westminster Abbey in London, England. June 4, 2013 REUTERS/Jack Hill/Pool

The Kohinoor, with its 108 carats, Discovered in 1893 at the Jaggesfontein mine in South Africa, the Excelsior was the largest diamond on the planet, weighing in at 972 carats. But Cullinan’s discovery broke all records, because it was three times larger, weighing no less than 3,106.75 carats – more than half a kilogram -, measuring 10.1 centimeters long, 6.35 wide and 5.9 deep. It is impossible for anyone to wrap their arms around the stone; In addition, half of its faces are smooth, indicating that it is only a broken part of a larger gem.

An imperial rule

No single individual can afford Cullinan. So, two years later, in 1907, General Louis Botha asked the Transvaal Chamber to authorize the Pretoria government to purchase diamonds for £150,000. Give it to the British King Edward VII as a gift for his sixtieth birthday and to show the loyalty of the Boer people.

At first, and out of prudence, the English crown rejected the gift. But, Winston ChurchillThe Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time thought it best to put aside feelings and accept the donation if faced with such a gift.

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Diamond soon moved to London. It was flown to England by parcel post amid extraordinary security measures, including being placed aboard a steamer guarded 24 hours a day by detectives. Or it was believed at the time that the real diamond would be sent in a simple box by certified mail, because everything was covered with a fake stone as a diversionary ploy.

Reputed company Royal Asher Diamond Company He was commissioned from the Netherlands to carve it. In February 1908, a remarkable audience gathered to watch Joseph Asher carve the massive stone. He needs to hit Cullinan in the right spot to produce big, beautiful diamonds. The diamond turned out to be of such exceptional quality that at its first strike, its steel blade broke, while the stone remained intact, with no scratch on its surface. He rejected everyone there and went to work creating bigger and stronger instruments.

Sotheby's Auctions Queen Isabelle Di Fornazio's Historic Blue Diamond
Sotheby’s Auctions Queen Isabelle Di Fornazio’s Historic Blue Diamond

The following week, armed with new tools, Joseph continued his work without allowing anyone but notaries public into the courtroom. Usher is out after Cullinan hits Diamond with a big blow. He later commented that the adrenaline that hit him the moment the stone split was so strong that he thought he should test it and double check its work before running to the next room. good news.

The result is a nine of diamonds just over 100 carats each and 96 smaller diamonds of less than one carat. The same scepter as Carlos III, except for two larger ones baptized as Cullinan I (530.20 carats) and Cullinan II, used for the royal scepter used by the British sovereign at the coronation of the new king. He will hold it in his left hand during his coronation at Westminster Abbey on May 6, and it has belonged to British monarchs since the 17th century. A diamond can also be taken separately and turned into a pendant.

In turn, the so-called Cullinan VI was bought by Edward VII as a gift for his wife, while everyone else remained in the Dutch capital to pay the ushers for their work. Or until 1910, when the South African government acquired them and donated them to Queen Mary, wife of George V (who succeeded her father that year), who set a portion of them on a platinum chain. As Maria also inherited the aforementioned Cullinan VI. All diamonds later belonged to Elizabeth II and, upon her death, were part of the Crown Jewels.

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Scientists explain that if it had been decided not to cut Cullinan, it would have been worth more than two billion dollars.

The diamond of controversy

Public opinion in South Africa was caught up in the debate that erupted last year, and what followed Death of Queen Elizabeth II: Demand from United Kingdom to return world’s largest cut diamond.

South Africa demands the return of the Cullinan diamond from the United Kingdom
South Africa demands the return of the Cullinan diamond from the United Kingdom

Since the Queen’s death, claims for Cullinan and calls for his return have intensified. Many departments in South Africa consider the possession of jewelery to be illegal. In fact, more than 6,000 people have signed a petition calling for the South Star to be returned and displayed at the South African Museum.

“The Cullinan diamond must be returned to South Africa with immediate effect”Activist Thanduxolo Sabelo confirmed to the media, clarifying that “our country’s and other countries’ minerals continue to benefit Great Britain at the expense of our people.”

“Our call is to return all colonial theft, of which the theft of Africa’s Great Star is a part,” called the controversial diamond, Lee-Ann Mathis, national spokeswoman for the Fighters for Economic Freedom, South Africa’s opposition political party.

Additionally, Sabelo criticized the acquisition of the jewel by the English Crown: “We continue in deep and shameful poverty, massive unemployment and increasing levels of crime because of the oppression and devastation wrought by her (Elizabeth II) and her ancestors”.

South African activists recently urged Queen Camilla not to wear the ‘colonial’ Cullinan diamond during a state visit by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Unionists warned that if Camilla or the Princess of Wales wore the diamond, it would be a “very unfortunate” reminder of colonial-era mining; that “Like spitting in the face of South Africans.”

One of South Africa’s leading trade unionists, Swelinzima Vavi, warned that if the royal family decided to wear the Cullinan diamond during Ramaphosa’s visit, it would not be welcome, saying “it would throw the Cecil John Rhodes story in our faces”. Referring to the colonial-era mining industry, it was minerals and land that “we had to fight for later”.

So after Queen Elizabeth II’s death, an online petition from South Africa calls for the return of the Cullinan diamond to the country. kept in the museum.

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