The History of the World Famous Cullinan Diamond.

Beautiful loose diamonds and diamond engagement rings have captivated people for centuries! One of the most famous loose diamonds is the Cullinan Diamond.

Willem Prinsloo, owner of the Elandsfontein farm in South Africa, discouraged prospectors from exploring on his property. He was, in fact, famous for discouraging prospectors. After Prinsloo’s death, Thomas Cullinan, a Johannesburg building contractor, purchased the farm. He bought it for 52,000 British pounds and registered the Premier (Transvaal) Diamond Mining Company Limited on December 1, 1902; mining on the farm began immediately thereafter. The Premier Mine was one of South Africa’s most productive, employing more than 2,000 people by the end of 1904.

The Discovery
As the sun was beginning to set on Thursday afternoon, January 26, 1905, Superintendent Captain Frederick Wells was making his daily inspection. A crystal caught light on the shaft wall; it was only nine meters from the surface. Thinking the miners were playing a joke, Wells took it for a piece of broken glass and pried it out with a pocketknife. The crystal weighed 1.5 pounds, was 37/8 inches long, 21/4 inches wide and 25/8 inches high. Wells was sure it was worthless…well, almost sure. So he sent it to be analyzed. It turned out that the uncut stone was a perfectly clear and colorless diamond weighing 3,106 carats and was twice the size of any other diamond ever found. There is talk that the stone was originally much larger; experts surmise that since one side of the crystal was smooth the stone was cleaved by natural forces. Named for Cullinan, the diamond was sold to the Transvaal Government for 150,000 pounds and Wells received 3,500 pounds as a reward.

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The Cullinan In The Rough: 3106 carats.

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The Cullinan In Pieces.

The Prime Minister of Transvaal, Louis Botha, suggested that the diamond be presented as a gift to King Edward VII. Due to lingering rancor after the Boer War, the gift did not sit well with Parliament, which only voted 42 to 19 in favor of its acceptance. After much debate and at Winston Churchill’s urging, the king accepted The Cullinan. In gratitude, Churchill was presented with a replica of the diamond; he enthusiastically displayed it to friends, sometimes exhibiting it on a silver platter. The Cullinan was presented to the king on November 9, 1907, for his 66th birthday.

Cutting
How The Cullinan was to be cut was of primary importance because the stone’s greatest value was in the number of stones that could be produced. The firm I.J. Asscher and Company of Amsterdam was chosen for the task. For three months, Joseph Asscher February 10, 1908, at 2:45 pm, Asscher prepared himself for the greatest responsibility of his professional career — cleaving The Cullinan. Placing the cleaving blade at the prearranged point, he gave it a blow with his hammer. Snap…the blade broke. The stone was unharmed; it had not even moved. Another blade was quickly procured and Asscher struck the stone again. This time it split perfectly, just as he had hoped. Amidst cheers, shouts and pats on the back for a job well done, Asscher fainted.

Now there were two stones, weighing 1,977.50 and 1,040 carats, respectively. Additional cleaving produced nine major stones, 96 brilliants and 9.50 carats of unpolished pieces. The total weight was 1,063 carats; there was a 65 percent cutting loss. King Edward VII was given the two principal stones and he purchased an additional stone, the sixth Cullinan “chip” for Queen Alexandra, which weighed 11.50 carats. The rest of the diamonds were retained by the Asschers as compensation.

The pear shape, a 530.20-carat diamond commonly known as Cullinan I, but also known as the Star of Africa, now resides in the Tower of London and is set in the British royal scepter. Cullinan II is a massive 317.40-carat cushion-shaped diamond that sits in the center front in the band of the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain. These jewels were specifically used for the coronation of King George V on June 22, 1911.

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Cullinan “Star Of Africa” 530.20 Carats!

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The stones that were in the possession of the Asschers were eventually purchased from them and presented to Queen Mary on June 28, 1910. In 1910 Queen Mary set Cullinan III and Cullinan IV, known as the Lesser Stars of Africa, into a brooch. Cullinan III, a 94.40-carat pear drop, hangs from Cullinan IV, a cushion-cut diamond weighing 63.60 carats. Always impressively arrayed, Queen Mary would also hang the Cullinan I as a pendant from the Koh-i-Noor brooch.

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Cullinan III and IV.

As for some of the other Cullinan diamonds, Queen Mary had the Cullinan V, an 18.80-carat triangular-pear shape mounted in a platinum brooch with the silhouette of the design echoing the shape of the stone. The brooch was part of a very large stomacher that includes the legendary Cambridge emeralds, which the Queen received in 1910; each element of the stomacher can come apart and be worn as a separate brooch. Queen Elizabeth II frequently wears the Cullinan V brooch.

The Cullinan VII is an 8.80-carat marquise diamond, which Queen Mary added as a pendant to the 6.80-carat oval cushion Cullinan VIII brooch; this brooch was created at the same time as the Cullinan V. A photograph from 1919 shows Queen Mary wearing a platinum diamond pendant and chain that incorporates some of the 96 smaller Cullinan stones. Although she inherited the necklace in 1953, Queen Elizabeth II has never been known to wear it in public; the queen says, “It gets in the soup.” The Cullinan IX is a 4.39-carat pear, which was placed in an engraved ring presented to Queen Mary. It now belongs to Queen Elizabeth II.

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Cullinan VII and VIII.

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The Cullinan II Diamond. The two tiny platinum loops on the edges allow the stone to be worn as a brooch, alone or with the Cullinan I
attached. However, it usually resides in the front of the Imperial State Crown.

Mikimoto Pearls and GIA Team Up For You.

With a $120,000 donation Mikimoto (America) Co., Ltd. has established the Mikimoto Pearls Course Scholarship at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Starting in 2006, the program will provide 10 scholarships to Distance Education students each year, GIA announced Friday. Mikimoto America President Mitsuhiro Mitsui,, said he was honored to establish the first-ever pearls scholarship to make the GIA course available to more people, particularly retail sales associates. In recognition of the gift, Mitsui will be inducted into the League of Honor at GIA’s annual dinner on Sept. 19 in New York.

“We value GIA as the industry leader in education,” Mitsui said in GIA’s release. “Mikimoto is always expanding its training in the quality of pearls, so we look to GIA for teaching what we value the most—quality.”

The Pearls course covers GIA’s seven Pearl Value Factors (size, shape, color, luster, surface quality, nacre quality, and matching) among other key topics, all of which help set industry guidelines, according to Robert Artelt, senior vice president of retail and marketing for Mikimoto (America) Co., Ltd.

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GIA and Mikimoto have previously worked together to resolve industry issues. During the 1990s, researchers from both organizations studied unusually large (10+ mm), near-spherical, freshwater cultured pearls from China that were causing many to question their nucleation process, which the two organizations ultimately concluded was traditionally created.

“Mikimoto’s longstanding dedication to the Institute and to the quality assurance of cultured pearls aptly culminates in their new Pearls course scholarship opportunity,” said GIA President William E. Boyajian. “By supporting GIA’s efforts to teach many more in the industry about cultured and natural pearls, Mikimoto is helping us uphold our public service mission.”

Mikimoto previously gave GIA $500,000 to help build the Institute’s world headquarters in Carlsbad. The Mikimoto Rotunda was named in its honor.

DeBeers To Share Mining Technology

De Beers has offered to share advanced technology with ALROSA to mine in the diamond rich Yakutia region of the Russian federation. Currently, De Beers is implementing a diamond prospecting project in the territory of the Luga district located south of St. Petersburg. De Beers is also working on a project that would yield industrial diamonds in Verkhotina, in the Arkhangelsk region of Russia.

In an interview with the Itar-Tass news agency on March 30, De Beers managing director, Gary Ralfe said that De Beers intends to invest in prospecting and recovery of diamonds in Russia and not limit itself to trading.

Ralfe meet with a group of Russian Duma deputies –-representatives of the lower house leading pertinent committees– at his Johannesburg office on March 29. The Russian parliamentarians are on a South Africa visit to familiarize themselves with the activities of De Beers and legislative control of the extraction, processing and turnover of mineral raw materials.

Rising Inflation and Oil Prices May Curtail Diamond & Jewelry Buying.

Markets in the United States closed in observance of Good Friday after a week of sour news about inflation and the job market. The DOW closed down 13.15 at 10,442.87 on March 24. The U.S. Labor Department reported consumer prices rose 0.4 percent for February, for an annual inflation rate of 2.4 percent, the highest spike in 33 months.

The weak dollar makes imports more expensive, oil prices remain at record high levels, and commodity price pressures are blamed for inflation concerns.

In the New York City metropolitan area, the consumer price index for the 12 months ending in February rose 3.9 percent, and core inflation was up by 3.4 percent. In comparative dollars, it would cost about $21 to purchase what would cost $10 in year 1984.

The states of California, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Illinois have reported an increase in unemployment claims from March 2004. Weekly claims ending March 19th rose to 324,000 nationally, which was more than expected. Using the Labor Department’s less volatile, adjusted, four-week average, the number of claims fell 5 percent from February 2004 to 321,750.

The Federal Reserve increased by one-quarter-point short-term interest rates, the seventh increase since June 2004. The hike will trigger higher rates for loans and lines of credit. Fixed-rate 30-year home loans rose to 6.01 percent, up from 5.4 percent in March 2004.

This situation may redirect consumers to Diamond purchases of smaller carat sizes during the upcoming Spring-Summer Gift-giving, Engagement, and Wedding Season.

“Good Friday” Diamond Robbery on 47th Street.

Manhattan police are on the hunt for gunmen who made off with at least $5 million in diamonds at Diamart Inc., 55 West 47th Street in New York City.

Two men identified themselves via intercom as deliverymen, and were allowed to enter the building shortly after 12 noon March 25th. The men put on masks, pulled handguns, and looted the business, and then they walked out of the building.

One man is approximately 5 feet 8 inches tall, the other is about 6 feet tall.

No suspects yet.

South Africa Diamond and Gold Miners Strike Spreads

The weak dollar continues to spell bad news for South Africa miners as a strong rand eats away mining profits reliant upon the dollar. Free State province gold mine workers went on strike to protest Harmony Gold Mining Co.’s plans of issuing up to 5,000 pink slips. DRDGold Inc., decided to close unprofitable mines, which would eliminate 6,000 more jobs.

Job cuts have grown more numerous in the past two years. DRDGold laid off 3,000 workers in 2004, and Harmony cut 8,000 jobs after announcing only 5,000 planned cuts mid-year 2004.

Unions warn of more layoffs in mining industry, with diamond miner De Beers among those issuing notices. Earlier in the day on March 23, South Africa labor unions lead by the National Union of Mineworkers announced it would work towards negotiating a 10 percent hike in wages during April bargaining sessions.

Long-term outlook for the dollar-to-rand exchange is little or no change. Bloomberg business news expects 5.90 rand to the dollar on average for all of 2005. On March 23, mid-day 6.07 rand bought $1.

In 1987, miners in South Africa walked-off their jobs for three weeks and 1 in 10 workers permanently lost their job.

Consolidation in the industry continues with prospects of future price increases looming.

Eduard Gubelin

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Leading gemologist and authority on inclusions in gemstones Eduard J. Gübelin died March 15, one day short of his 92nd birthday.

Gübelin was born to a watchmaking family in 1913, and joined his father’s business at an early age. He became involved with gemology after his father started a gemological laboratory in Lucerne.

An authority on inclusions in gemstones who was ell-known for his research, Gübelin authored many publications including Internal World of Gemstones: Documents from Space and Time, a work that showed how gemologists could determine the source of stones based on their inclusions.

“While his death saddened me greatly, no one who knew him can feel anything but joy,” said Richard R. Hughes, of the American Gem Testing Laboratory, in a statement. “Eduard Gübelin was the father of modern gemology. We are all his children.”

DeBeers Launching Value Added Services for It’s Diamond Siteholders.

The Diamond Trading Company (DTC) aka DeBeers has launched its new “Value Added Services” (VAS) program, a series of marketing and planning initiatives to support sightholders and help them grow their businesses.

An objective of DTC’s new program, according to a release issued Tuesday, is to support one of De Beers’ top strategic goals over the next four years: to remain Supplier of Choice to their clients and fuel consumer demand for diamonds.

“These services will go beyond anything provided by any other diamond supplier, and are designed to help our clients to drive a new and exciting growth phase for their businesses,” DTC Managing Director Gareth Penny said in the statement.

The VAS program will be comprised of core services and growth services with the aim of growing sightholders’ businesses through a series of benefits, according to DTC. The program intends to help sightholders by providing a more stable business planning environment, encouraging them to participate in global marketing campaigns, amplifying the prestige associated with being a DTC sightholder, furnishing access to marketing insights and expertise from the DTC and connecting sightholders with a personal DTC key account manager.

For a fee, DTC sightholders can utilize core services, to feature supply planning tools including: continuity of supply for two and a half years, intention to offer, consistency of boxes to a defined profile, client extranet service and dedicated account management service. With the tools, DTC says it will provide business sustainability measures free to sightholders, such as consumer confidence programs and generic demand generation.

The growth services component of DTC’s VAS program is be available to sightholders on request, and will feature seminars on growth opportunity, workshops about market insight, generic advertising materials and seminars on how to excel in business.