Discovery of the Cullinan Diamond
January 27, 2010 by Bob Livingston
On Jan. 26, 1905, the largest diamond known to man was found in Pretoria, South Africa. Called the "Cullinan," the stone weighed an amazing 3,106 carats. Even Elizabeth Taylor couldn’t have worn it around her neck.
Joseph Asscher, a legendary diamond cutter in Amsterdam, was chosen to split the giant stone. He studied the diamond for six months before trying to divide it. On the appointed day, he asked to have a doctor standing by, in case he made a blunder.
After nearly shattering the diamond on his first hit, he succeeded on his second blow. The diamond fell neatly into two pieces. Asscher was so relieved he promptly fainted.
The Cullinan was ultimately cut into 106 separate diamonds. The largest is the 530-carat "Star of Africa," which is reputed to be the largest fine quality colorless diamond in the world. The gem was presented to King Edward VII by Transvaal Province, South Africa, and now rests in the Tower of London, along with the other Crown Jewels.