The Great Star of Africa, the largest clear-cut diamond in the world, belonged to Queen Elizabeth II, according to a tweet from the @Africa Archives account on the morning of the 96-year-old monarch’s passing. A mine in South Africa produced the 530-carat diamond in 1905. It started off as a theft in South Africa. Estimates place its value at $400 million.
The British claim that it was given to them as a symbol of friendship and peace, but it was actually during colonialism, according to a second tweet that expanded on the idea. The British gave The Great Star of Africa a new name in honour of Thomas Cullinan, the mine’s director.
This account explores the discovery, acquisition, transfer, and debate surrounding this gem.
On January 26, 1905, the Premier Mine in the Transvaal region of South Africa produced a 3,106-carat diamond. The name Cullinan was given after Thomas Cullinan, the mine’s chairman. Cullinan was born in South Africa, according to Nigel Helme’s 1974 biography of the diamond magnate.
According to Britannica.com and Cullinan-Diamond.com, the uncut Cullinan diamond was then “bought by the [local] Transvaal government and was delivered [in 1907] to the reigning British king, King Edward VII.” The purchase reportedly cost 150,000 pounds. The rough diamond was shipped to London in April of 1905 and “officially delivered to King Edward VII on November 9, 1907,” according to Helme’s biography of Cullinan.
Asscher’s of Amsterdam divided the diamond into nine larger stones and about 100 smaller ones in 1908 after cutting and polishing it. All of the stones are now regarded as official British regalia, according to Britannica.com.
The Great Star of Africa was fashioned from the Cullinan diamond to be the largest stone imaginable. It is the largest gem-quality diamond ever weighed, weighing 530.2 carats. It has been referred to as Cullinan I, First Star of Africa, and Star of Africa throughout recorded history. It is unknown exactly when these names initially appeared.
The Great Star of Africa was in fact the queen’s property. The Sovereign’s Sceptre, also known as the Imperial Sceptre or the Royal Sceptre, is one of the United Kingdom’s crown jewels and currently houses the diamond.
A diamond was “stolen,” right?
On the other hand, the Great Star of Africa rumour that was allegedly “taken” needs some context. The original diamond, according to previously published historical data, was bought by the South African Transvaal government and afterwards given to the British monarchy. In a 1995 article written by The Birmingham Post, the incident was described along with a response from Buckingham Palace.