Famous diamonds add sparkle to Queen’s jubilee

Photographers today got a look at some of the most famous diamonds in the world, which will go on public display at the end of June as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The exhibition, called Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration, will feature many of the main diamonds cut from the famous Cullinan Diamond discovered more than 100 years ago.

At more than 3,000 carats, the diamond was found in the Cullinan Diamond Mine in South Africa in 1905.

A story from the UK Press Association describes a litte of the diamond's history:

Exhibition curator Caroline de Guitaut said: "Until January 26 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."

Sean Dempsey/Associated Press
Exhibition curator Caroline de Guitaut holds the Cullinan Brooch at the Queen's Gallery in Buckingham Palace, London, part of an exhibition of royal gems being staged to mark the Queen's 60-year reign. The pear drop diamond (Cullinan III) weighs 94.4 carats, and the the square cut diamond above it (Cullinan IV) weighs 63.6 carats.  (May 15, 2012)

The diamond was cut to produce 96 smaller stones, the largest of which is the Cullinan I, or the Star of Africa. At a little more than 530 carats, the stone is found in the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross, which is on display at the Tower of London. The Cullinan I is the largest colourless cut diamond in the world.

The second largest of the diamonds is the Cullinan II, which is found at the front of The Imperial State Crown, pictured at right and worn by Queen Elizabeth in top photo May 9 at the Palace of Westminster.

The third and fourth largest of the stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond are found in the Cullinan Brooch (pictured above), which was given to King Edward VII for his 66th birthday.

The heart-shaped Cullinan V was given to Queen Mary in 1910, and was set in a brooch but made to be detachable.

The Cullinan VI and VIII diamonds are found together in a pendant, the Cullinan VII as a detachable pendand in the Delhi Durbar Necklace, and the pear-shaped Cullinan IX was set into a ring.

Sean Dempsey/Associated Press
Exhibition curator Caroline de Guitaut holds Queen Victoria's small Diamond crown which she wore on her Diamond Jubilee, seen below/right in a photo from the British Monarchy website.

The Crown Jewels have been housed in the Tower of London since 1303, after they were stolen from Westminster Abbey that year. 

The Diamonds exhibition is scheduled to run from June 30 to Oct. 7 in Buckingham Palace. According to the website: "The exhibition includes an unprecedented display of a number of The Queen’s personal jewels – those inherited by Her Majesty or acquired during her reign."

This undated image made available by the Royal Collection shows The Girls of Great Britain Tiara, part of a exhibition of royal gems being staged to mark the Queen's 60-year reign at the Queen's gallery, Buckingham.


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