The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History unveiled its latest addition to the National Gem Collection, the Cullinan Diamond Necklace. Just like its neighbor, the Hope Diamond, this exquisite piece has an intriguing history.
The 30-carat Edwardian style jewel, features a unique structure that allows it to be worn as both a brooch and a necklace. A large oval shaped 2.61 carat Fancy Blue diamond of exquisite color drops from the center which is part of 5.61 carats total of extremely rare blue diamonds. 251 white diamonds surround the necklace curving into loops and then ribbons, creating an elaborate Edwardian-esque bow motif.
Named after Thomas Cullinan, the famed South African explorer, the rough diamond weighed an astonishing 3,106.75 carats total before having been cut and polished. National Gem Collection Curator Jeffrey Post said “It was the largest rough diamond ever discovered”. Cullinan presented the piece to King Edward VII for his birthday which earned him his knighthood.
Honoring his own knighthood in 1910, he then had part of the diamond set into a necklace for his wife. The 9 blue diamonds represent the 9 pieces that were cut from the original stone. Four of the largest diamonds were placed into settings such as scepters, rings and crowns and are the main gemstones featured in the British Crown Jewels.
The Cullinan Blue necklace remained in the family until Sir Thomas’ great-granddaughter, Anne Robinson sold the heirloom to Stephen Silver in the early 1980’s. After three decades, Silver then sold it to an unnamed buyer who then in turn donated it to the museum.