Friday, January 25, 2013
A GREAT BIG ACCIDENTAL DISCOVERY
Think of what you'd wish for if you found Alladan's magic lamp and was able to make just one wish. Well, back on this date, it was sort of like finding something that was as valuable as that single solitary wish from the all powerful genie. And after the discovery, its doubtful that you would ever in your life need anything else again.
We go back over one hundred years ago, back January 25, 1905, at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, (Remember that old song "We're Marching to Pretoria?") Well, at any rate at Pretoria, a 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection by the mine's superintendent. Now get this: it weighed 1.33 pounds, (Holey Moley!) and it was christened the "Cullinan,"and good friends and gentle readers, it was the largest diamond ever found. The gem was discovered by a Mister Frederick Wells and he was eigteen feet below the earth's surface, when he spotted a flash of starlight embedded in the wall, just above him.
His discovery was presented that very afternoon to Sir Thomas Cullnan who owned the mine. Sir Thomas then sold the diamond to the Transvaal provincial government, which presented the stone to Britain's King Edward VII as a birthday gift. Did you get that? A birthday present! Oh my stars! Sir Thomas was worried that the diamond might be stolen in transit from Africa to London, and so the young man who found the diamond, (Edward) arranged to send a phony diamond aboard a steamer ship loaded with detectives as a diversionary tactic. While the decoy slowly made its way from Africa on the ship, the Cullinan was sent to England in a plain box.
Edward entrusted the cutting of the Cullinan to Joseph Asscher, head of the Asscher Diamond Company of Amsterdam. Asscher, who had cut the famous Excelsior Diamond, a 971-carat diamond found in 1893, studied the stone for six months before attempting the cut. On his first attempt, the steel blade broke, with no effect on the diamond. On the second attempt, the diamond shattered exactly as planned; Asscher then fainted from nervous exhaustion.
The Cullinan Diamond was later 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," )of which you might have heard of) 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. Mkes you want to go out and explore something,huh?