Monday, June 10, 2013

Antique Image of the Day: The Complete Set of Nine Stones Produced from the Cullinan Diamond

The Complete Set of Nine Stones Produced from the Cullinan Diamond
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

This platinum print from October of 1908 shows “the complete set of nine stones produced from the Cullinan Diamond.” The print was acquired by the future King George V (1865-1936) in 1908 so that a record of the diamond’s cutting could be added to the future Queen Mary’s records.

The diamonds pictured here were cleft from the Cullinan Diamond. Cullininan I and II, the two largest, were set aside for King Edward VII. They were set in 1909 in an awkwardly large pendant brooch. In 1910, when George V ascended in place of his father, he asked that the Culinan I and II be set into the head of the Sovereign's Sceptre and on the band of the Imperial State Crown, respectively. The diamonds, however, remained detachable and could be worn either together or independently as brooches. Queen Mary liked to do that every so often.

The remaining diamonds cut from the Cullinan were retained by Asscher (the cutter for whom the famed diamond cut is named), with the exception of the Cullinan Vi which had also been given to King Edward VII. Asscher kept these stones and the smaller collection of ninety-six smaller stones and fragments as a fee for cutting the original massive diamond.

However, did you really think Queen Mary would NOT get her hands on them? The whole lot was acquired by the South African government who gifted all of them to Queen Mary in 1910 in preparation for the 1911 Coronation. Stones III and IV were set into a pear-shaped drop of 94.4 carats. A square-cut stone of 63.6 carats was set in the Queen’s new coronation crown in 1911. These two stones now form the Cullinan Brooch. Another of the larger diamonds was adapted into a pendant for Queen Victoria’s cullet necklace, worn with the Lahore Diamond. Queen Mary managed to find uses for the whole lot, and, in doing so, made sure that the pieces of the original stone have stayed together forever. 

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