On January 25, 1905, a 3,106-carat diamond was discovered during a routine inspection at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa.
The diamond, weighing 1.33 pounds, was named the “Cullinan” (after Sir Thomas Cullinan, who owned the mine) and became the largest diamond ever discovered.
The diamond, which was found 18 feet below the earth’s surface was later sold and subsequently presented to Britain’s King Edward VII as a birthday gift. Worried that the diamond might be stolen in transit from Africa to London, Edward arranged to send instead, a phony diamond — extremely-well secured, aboard a steamer ship.
The Cullinan was sent safely to England in a plain box.
The Cullinan was cut into nine large stones and about 100 smaller ones, valued at millions of dollars all told. The largest stone is called the “Star of Africa I,” or “Cullinan I,” and at 530 carats, it is the largest-cut fine-quality colorless diamond in the world.
The second largest stone, the “Star of Africa II” or “Cullinan II,” is 317 carats. Both of these stones, as well as the “Cullinan III,” 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.