All this from ONE stone: Jewellery from world"s largest diamond goes on display at Buckingham palace

All this from ONE stone: Jewellery from world's
largest diamond goes on display at Buckingham PalaceThe Cullinan Diamond, weighing 3,106 carats in its rough state, was first discovered in 1905 at a mine near Pretoria in South AfricaIt was originally thrown away as it was thought it to be too large to be a diamondOnce recovered, it was presented to King Edward VII as gift and cuts were used in the Crown JewelsOther cuts were used to make brooches, necklaces and earrings worn by royalty including Queen Elizabeth II throughout her 60-year reignSeven of the nine cuts of the gem are to go on public display at Buckingham Palace this summer to celebrate Queen's Diamond Jubilee

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UPDATED:

15:11 GMT, 15 May 2012

They're the largest and flawless cut diamonds in the world and form part of the Crown Jewels guarded at the Tower of London. But the dazzling gemstones that are set in the Sovereign's Sceptre and the Imperial State Crown were once nearly thrown away.

The large diamonds in the Crown Jewels were cut from the Cullinan Diamond, which weighed 3,106 carats in its rough state, when it was first discovered in 1905 at a mine near Pretoria in South Africa.

But it was so large that its finders thought it must be crystal – so it was promptly thrown out of the window of the mine manager's office as it was thought to be worthless.

Crown Jewels: The main Cullinan Diamond was set into the Sovereign's Sceptre after the massive rough diamond was cut...

Crown Jewels: The main Cullinan Diamond was set into the Sovereign's Sceptre after the massive rough diamond was cut…

...while another was set into the Imperial State Crown which has been worn by Queen Elizabeth II throughout her 60-year reign

...while another was set into the Imperial State Crown which has been worn by Queen Elizabeth II throughout her 60-year reign

…while another was set into the Imperial State Crown which has been worn by Queen Elizabeth II throughout her 60-year reign

However, the clerks were soon persuaded of the gem's worth and recovered it. It was named after the chairman of the mining company, Thomas Cullinan, and went on to become part of the Crown Jewels after it had been cut and polished.

The extraordinary story of the diamonds
has come to light as an exhibition of royal gems is being staged at
Buckingham Palace to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The major display
will reunite for the first time seven of the nine principal stones cut
from the Cullinan Diamond.

Largest of its kind: A glass model replica of the Cullinan diamond in its original rough state

Largest of its kind: A glass model replica of the Cullinan diamond in its original rough state

Dazzling collection: The diamonds, which have been set in necklaces, brooches and earrings, will be displayed at Buckingham Palace this summer

Dazzling collection: The diamonds, which have been set in necklaces, brooches and earrings, will be displayed at Buckingham Palace this summer

Dazzling collection: The diamonds cut from the large stone, have been set in necklaces, brooches and earrings, will be displayed at Buckingham Palace this summer

Precious: The diamond was also cut to produce this Cullinan III and IV Brooch, commissioned by Queen Mary in 1911, and the Delhi Durbar Necklace and Cullinan Pendant, which is the Cullinan VII

Precious: The diamond was also cut to produce this Cullinan III and IV Brooch, commissioned by Queen Mary in 1911, and the Delhi Durbar Necklace and Cullinan Pendant, which is the Cullinan VII

Exhibition curator Caroline de Guitaut explains: 'Until 26 January 1905 no one had ever seen a diamond of this size. So incredible was its discovery that
the moment it was found at the Premier mine it was thrown out of the
window of the mine manager’s office because it was thought to be a
worthless crystal.

'Now, for the first time, our visitors
will be able to see seven of the nine principal stones cut from this
magnificent and highly important diamond.'

The exhibition will be the focal point of
the royal palace's 2012 summer opening and will include an
unprecedented display of some of the Sovereign’s personal jewels.

Portrait of Queen Victoria wearing the crown

Fit for a queen: This small Diamond Crown, as worn by Queen Victoria for her official Diamond Jubilee portrait in 1870, will also go on display

Fit for a queen: This small Diamond Crown, as worn by Queen Victoria for
her official Diamond Jubilee portrait in 1870, will also go on display

At the heart of the display are the gems
from the Cullinan Diamond which was three times larger than any other
diamond that had been previously been found. Measuring 10.1 x 6.35 x 5.9cm, the diamond was notable for its extraordinary blue-white colour and exceptional purity. Although it is the largest stone to have ever been found, the rough diamond had a cleavage face on one side, which suggested that it might once have formed part of an even larger stone.

Soon after being discovered, it was sent to London and taken to Buckingham Palace for inspection by King Edward VII. For the next two years the stone remained a public wonder, during which time it was shown to many prospective clients. Remarkably, it was hard to find a buyer, as no one could understand how a such a large stone could be cut.

'Granny's tiara': The Queen's favourite tiara, given to her from her grandmother, Queen Mary, will be in the exhibition

'Granny's tiara': The Queen's favourite tiara, given to her from her grandmother, Queen Mary, will be in the exhibition. Here, she is pictured wearing it in on state visits in 2011, left, and 1989, right

'Granny's tiara': The Queen's favourite tiara, given to her from her grandmother, Queen Mary, will be in the exhibition. Here, she is pictured wearing it in on state visits in 2011, left, and 1989, right

Eventually the Prime Minister of the Transvaal suggested that his government should acquire the Cullinan and present it to King Edward VII as a token of loyalty, a gift that the King was eventually recommended to take. So, in 1907, under police protection, the uncut stone was conveyed to Sandringham House in Norfolk, where the King was celebrating his 66th birthday.

The gift did not include the cost of cutting the stone, and this task was entrusted to the celebrated firm of IJ Asscher of Amsterdam. No one had ever cut such a huge stone – and the complexities of doing so were many. It was too large to be cut into a single gem, so cleaving or sawing was necessary. After weeks of consideration, including four days spent making the groove into which the steel cleaving knife was to be inserted, the stone was ready to be split.

Passed down the generations: The Queen as a child, left, when her mother who wore the Imperial State Crown before her, and, right, her grandmother Queen Mary who can be seen wearing one of the Cullinan Diamonds as a brooch

Passed down the generations: The Queen as a child, left, when her mother who wore the Imperial State Crown before her, and, right, her grandmother Queen Mary who can be seen wearing one of the Cullinan Diamonds as a brooch

Passed down the generations: The Queen as a child, left, with her mother who wore the Imperial State Crown before her, and, right, her grandmother Queen Mary who can be seen wearing one of the Cullinan Diamonds as a brooch

The first blow broke the knife, but the diamond remained intact. A second cleavage knife was fitted, and this time the blow split the diamond in two. A few days later, the task of dividing up these two large pieces began. Eight months of grinding and polishing followed, for three polishers working 14 hours a day. Eventually, they produced nine principal numbered stones, 96 small brilliants and nine carats of unpolished fragments. The total weight of the gems cut from the Cullinan amounted to 1,055.9 carats.

HISTORY OF THE GIRLS OF GREAT BRITAIN TIARA
'Granny's tiara': The Queen in her favourite tiara given to her from her grandmother, Queen Mary, which will be in the exhibition

The Girls of Great Britain Tiara was a wedding present to Princess
Victoria Mary of Teck, later Queen Mary – the Queen’s grandmother – on
behalf of the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland in 1893.

Originally crafted with upright pearls
around the top and a bandeau base, it was altered in 1920 by Queen
Mary, who replaced the pearls with diamonds and removed the base.

It is one of the Queen’s favourites
and is forever known as 'Granny’s tiara', being a wedding present from
her grandmother in 1947. It is said to be very light and easy to wear.

In 1909, the two largest gems were formally presented to King Edward VII at Windsor Castle. These are the two largest colourless and flawless cut diamonds in the world. The biggest – the Great Star of
Africa – was set in the Sovereign’s Sceptre and the second gem – the Second
Star of Africa – was set in the Imperial State Crown. Both are on now display
at the Tower of London.

The other seven, which are reunited in the exhibition, were all mounted by Garrard’s or Carrington’s in a brooches, a ring and a
necklace, many of which have been worn by Queen Elizabeth II on special occasions throughout her reign.

Among the other items that will go on show at the Palace will be the Girls of Great Britain Tiara which the Queen recently wore at the state banquet for the Turkish president in November.

It was a wedding present to Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, later Queen Mary – the Queen’s grandmother – on behalf of the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland in 1893.

Originally crafted with upright pearls around the top and a bandeau base, it was altered in 1920 by Queen Mary, who replaced the pearls with diamonds and removed the base.

It is one of the Queen’s favourites and is forever known as 'Granny’s tiara', being a wedding present from her grandmother in 1947. It is said to be very light and easy to wear.

Many of the pieces that will be on display at the Palace have undergone transformations through the ages – having been re-cut or used in new settings depending on the fashion or the preferences of the queens or princesses who used them.

Visitors will also see the impressive necklace and earrings worn by the Queen at her coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey in 1953.

Diamond Queen: Her Majesty wears the Imperial State Crown and holds the Sovereign's Sceptre, both of which contains stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond in this picture from her coronation

Diamond Queen: Her Majesty wears the Imperial State Crown and holds the Sovereign's Sceptre, both of which contains stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond in this picture from her coronation

Joseph Asscher makes the first cut into the Cullinan Diamond in February 1908

History in the making: Joseph Asscher makes the first cut into the Cullinan Diamond in February 1908 – the first blow broke the knife

The collet necklace is formed of 25 large graduated cushion-shaped brilliant-cut diamonds and a central drop-shaped pendant of 22.48 carats.

It was created in 1858 for Queen Victoria – the only other British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee – from a Garter badge and ceremonial sword.

The impressive detachable diamond drop, known as the Lahore stone, was originally part of the Timur ruby necklace.

Over time the necklace, which was also worn at the coronations of Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary, has been modified.

HOW CULLINAN DIAMOND WAS DISCOVERED AND TRANSFORMED

Cullinan diamond replica

The Cullinan Diamond, which weighed 3,106 carats in its rough state, was first discovered in 1905 at a mine near Pretoria in South Africa. It was so large that its finders thought it must be crystal so threw it away.

When it's worth was realised, it was recovered and sent to London to be inspected by King Edward VII at Buckingham Palace.

For two years it remained unsold as it was thought to be too big to cut.

In 1907, the Prime Minister of the Transvaal suggested that his government should acquire the Cullinan and present it to King Edward VII as a gift. Under police protection, the uncut stone was conveyed to Sandringham House in Norfolk, where the King was celebrating his 66th birthday.

Joseph Asscher makes the first cut into the Cullinan Diamond in February 1908

The task of cutting the stone was entrusted to the celebrated firm of IJ Asscher of Amsterdam. After weeks of consideration, including four days spent making the groove into which the steel cleaving knife was to be inserted, the stone was ready to be split – but the first blow broke the knife!

Once cut, grinding and polishing followed, with three polishers working 14 hours a day. Eventually, they produced nine principal numbered stones, 96 small brilliants and nine carats of unpolished fragments.

In 1909, the two largest gems were formally presented to King Edward VII at Windsor Castle. These are the two largest colourless and flawless cut diamonds in the world. The biggest – the Great Star of
Africa – was set in the Sovereign’s Sceptre and the second gem – the Second
Star of Africa – was set in the Imperial State Crown. Both are on now display
at the Tower of London.

Exhibition curator Caroline de Guitaut holds the Cullinan Brooch

The other seven were all mounted by Garrard’s or Carrington’s in a brooches, a ring and a
necklace and have been worn by members of the royal family on state occasions.

In 2012, seven of the nine stones will go on display in Buckingham Palace in a special exhibition to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee

The Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration exhibition will be held from June 30 to July 8 and from July 31 to October 7