A DIAMOND, included in all lists of the celebrated stones of the world, is variously quoted as the ” lblattam,” the ” Matan ” and the ” Rajah of Mattan,” and is so named because owned by the rajahs of that territory, in whose family it remains. It is an uncut pear-shaped crystal weighing 367 Borneo carats, or about 318 European carats. Some doubts have been raised as to its genuineness. The reigning princes of the country regard it with superstitious reverence, believing that their fortunes are linked with the possession of the stone, a belief shared by the people of Borneo, who also think that the destinies of the empire are in some mysterious way connected with it. They also attribute to it miraculous power, claiming that water in which it is dipped will cure all diseases. Only under very extraordinary circumstances, therefore, are strangers allowed to see it, and then they may not touch it. Mawe says that the captain of an Indiaman to whom it was shown was requested not to touch it. It was exhibited on a salver of gold. The size of it was about that of a walnut, and it had a bluish, metallic luster. Upon examination at Pontianak in 1868, it was pronounced to be rock crystal, but many think that a copy only of the real stone was shown. By some it is said to have been found in 1760, by others in 1787, in the Landak mines on the west coast of Borneo. Landak is in the territory of the Rajah of Matan, north of Pontianak. It is said to have been found by a dyak. It was claimed as a droit of royalty by the Sultan Gurn Laya, but he handed it over to the Pangeran (rajah) of Landak. His brother got possession of it, and gave it as a bribe to the Sultan of Sukadana that he might be placed on the throne of Landak. The lawful prince fled to Bantam, and securing the aid of the prince of that country, and the Dutch, regained his own territory and nearly destroyed Sukadana. It is said that $150,000, 2 large war brigs with guns and ammunition, and other stores were offered for the stone and refused. Some say this offer came from Batavia and others that it was made by Jamieson, governor of Borneo. The diamond is known in Borneo as the ” Danan Radschah.”
The “Nizam ” is a large Indian stone in the possession of the Nizam of Hyderabad. It is said to have been found by a child in the neighborhood of Golconda, and is described as somewhat almond shaped, and in almost native condition. It shows some traces of an at-tempt to shape it into the mystic Yoni. It is claimed that the stone was broken in the year of the Indian revolt, which may explain the various accounts given of the weight, some placing it at 277 carats; others at 340 and 440 carats, or it may be confounded with the African ” Victoria ” stone of 1884, weighing 457/ carats in the rough, and 180 carats after cutting, since reported to have been sold to the Nizam, and now sometimes called also ” The Nizam.” It has been valued at f 200,000. It has been reported that the piece broken off was sold for 70,000 rupees.
The ” Hope ” is a sapphire blue diamond weighing 44 3/8 carats, without flaws and cut to a slightly irregular cushion shape. It has been known since 1830, when it was in the hands of Daniel Eliason and without a his-tory. It was bought at that time by the London banker Henry Thomas Hope for £18,000, and passed by the hands of his successor, Lord Hope, to a New York firm who sold it in 1908 to Monsieur Habib. It was advertised for sale at public auction with other large stones under the name ” Collection Habib,” in Paris, June 24, 1909, and sold for $80,060. Streeter thinks this to be the large part of the irregular-shaped blue diamond bought in India by Tavernier in 1642, and sold to Louis XIV of France in 1668. It weighed 112 1/4 carats in the rough when that monarch bought it, and was probably cut at once, for it is recorded that the King wore a large blue diamond suspended from a ribbon round the neck, when he decked himself with jewels estimated at £12,000,000, to receive the Persian Ambassador at his court in February, 1715. After cutting, it probably weighed 67 carats, for a blue stone of that weight was among the Crown jewels stolen from the Garde-Meuble in 1792. No similar blue diamond was seen again until that now known as the Hope appeared in the hands of Eliason in 1830. At the disposal of his jewels at Genoa in 1874, after the death of the Duke of Brunswick, a similar blue stone was found in his collection. It was drop-shaped, rose cut, and weighed 133 carats. Later, another of the same color weighing one carat was bought by Streeter in London, and he believes, the three stones being of similar color, their weights, shapes, and cleavages corresponding to the probable result of cleaving and recutting the French stone, that they were parts of the Tavernier diamond. The combination of weights, shapes, sizes, and color, certainly appear to be incontrovertible evidence of the truth of his theory. It is more than probable, therefore, that the Hope diamond is identical with that worn by Louis XIV.
The ” Piggott ” is a shallow stone brought from India to England by Lord Piggott in 1775. It is said to have been sold by lottery in 18o1 for £30,000 and later bought by Rundell & Bridge, the London jewelers, for £6,000. Ali Pasha of Egypt bought it for £30,000. The weight is generally given as 81 1/2 carats, though Mawe, who saw the stone before it was sold to Ali, says it weighs 49 carats.
The ” Nassac,” thought to have come originally from a temple at Nassak on the upper Godavery and there-fore so named, is said to have been taken by Warren Hastings from the last independent prince of Peischwa in 1818 and sold to the East India Company. It weighed 89 carats, but the shape was bad. Jeweler Emanuel of London bought it in 1831 for $7,200 and sold it soon after to the Marquis of Westminster, who had it recut to a three-sided brilliant of 78 carats. It has since been estimated at the unreasonably high value of $148,000. It remains in the Westminster family.
An addition was made to the Crown jewels of Russia in 1813 of considerable interest. The Persian prince Chosroës, younger son of Abbas Mirza, brought as a present to the Emperor Nicholas, a diamond of fine quality in the form of an irregular prism weighing about 95 carats. On three of the edges, which were partly cleavage planes and partly cut facets, the names of three Persian rulers were engraved. Later, it was cut to 86 carats, and the inscriptions were taken out in the process, unfortunately.
Another engraved diamond with ancient oriental associations was the ” Akbar Shah.” Like most of these relics of India, it was not cut to suit the modern ideas of Europe, or the modernized tastes of the new generation of Hindu princes. As far as known, its first owner was the Great Mogul Akbar, who died in 1605. Later, one of his successors, Shah Jehan, engraved on two sides of it the following inscriptions in Arabic :
THE SHAH OF THE WORLD
1028 A. H.
To THE LORD OF TWO WORLDS
1039 A. H.
It is difficult to interpret the dates. If founded on the Hejira or Fuselli era, they would correspond to somewhere about 1618 and 1629 of the Christian era. Shah Akbar died in 1605 and Shah Jehan reigned from 1627 to 1658. As there was much confusion in India regarding eras and methods of computing time, it seems possible that the figures upon the stone referred to the date of some event, or at any rate had some connection with a time during the lives of these monarchs, but of exactly what nature, there does not appear to be any evidence. The stone disappeared from public knowledge at the close of the seventeenth century, and was lost until well on in the nineteenth, when it was recognized in Turkey by the inscriptions. It was known there as the ” Shepherd’s stone.” Mr. George Blogg bought it in Constantinople in February, 1866. He brought it to London and had it recut from 120 Arabic to 116 English carats, by Mr. L. M. Auerhaan, to a drop-shape diamond of 71 or 72 carats, and sold it the fol-lowing year to the Gaikwar of Baroda for 372 lacs of rupees, or about £35,000. It is now in the treasury of that country. The inscriptions were of course destroyed in recutting. Tradition says that the ” Akbar Shah ” was one of the eyes in the Peacock throne of the Moguls, destroyed by Nadir Shah when he looted Delhi.
The Shah of Persia is credited with the possession of two large fine diamonds also brought from Delhi, which are worn, some say in two armlets, others, one in an arm-let and one at the knee. Sir John Malcolm, in ” Sketches of Persia,” 1827, says they weigh 186 and 146 carats respectively. The larger one is known as the ” Daryai-nur ” (Sea of light) and the other as ” Taj-e-mah” (Crown of moon). They are of Indian origin undoubtedly, as they are skillfully rose-cut after the Hindustan fashion. Both are fine stones, but the Taj-e-mah is said to be the finest diamond in the Persian collection of jewels. Streeter says the Shah of Persia obtained the smaller one from Mir Jumma, a diamond merchant, and that it is supposed to have come originally from Sumbhulpore, a district noted for the fine quality of its stones, though large ones were seldom found there. The Daryai-nur is a large, flat, oval-shaped stone. Together they have been valued at 20,020,000 marks.
Imagination has confused the early history of the ” Eugenie,” as it has that of many notable stones. It is said to have been found by a peasant, in the Wajra Karur district, who offered it to a blacksmith for repairing a plow. The smith threw it away, but afterwards picked it up again and sold it to Mr. Arathon, a merchant in Madras, for 6,000 rupees. The merchant sold it for a large sum to Napoleon III. That a peasant and a blacksmith in a diamond-mining district, where thousands of poor spend their lives hunting for diamonds among the detrital matter of ancient rivers, did not suspect the value of the stone, is possible but not probable. The finder may have had no right, however, to his find, in which case both he and the smith may have feared to sell it until the convenient merchant who would ask no questions came along. Another account says that it was owned by Catherine II of Russia, who gave it to her favorite Potemkin, in whose family it remained until Napoleon bought it as a wedding gift for his bride Eugenie. After her dethronement she sold it to the Gaikwar of Baroda. It is a fine stone, cut as a brilliant, weighing 51 carats.
The ” White Saxon Brilliant” is described as one of the finest diamonds known. It is square cut, and measures 11/16 inches in diameter. August the Strong paid one million thalers for it.
” The Polar Star ” is a fine stone of 40 carats, brilliant cut, and variously reported to be among the Crown jewels of Russia and to belong to the Princess Youssoupoff.
There is a large diamond belonging to the house of Austria which has an authentic history back to Maria Theresa, and a variety beyond. It is variously named ” The Florentine,” the ” Grand Duke of Tuscany ” and the ” Austrian.” It is a briolette having 9 rows of facets cut to represent a star of 9 rays, and weighs 113 1/3 Vienna carats or 139 1/2 carats French. The stone, which is clear and very brilliant, is generally said to be a little yellow. Tavernier, who saw it, says it is citron color, but with his usual liberality in estimating values, he places the value of the ” Florentine ” at 2,608,335 livres or in round figures about $520,000. It came to Maria Theresa and the Austrian house by her husband, Francis Stephen of Lorraine, who, a year after his marriage, exchanged Lorraine for the grand duchy of Tuscany and acquired the ” Florentine ” with it. Tradition says that this diamond was cut for Charles the Bold by Ludwig Van Berquem, and lost by him at the battle of Granson; that it was found by a Swiss peasant who sold it to a citizen of Berne; a Genoese who bought it from him, sold it to Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan, then by way of the Medici treasury it passed on to Francis Stephen. At his coronation, October 4, 1745, as head of the Holy Roman Empire, the ” Florentine “, adorned the Crown of the House of Austria. Another account says that Pope Julius II presented it to the Emperor of Austria.
The ” Braganza,” called also the ” King of Portugal’s diamond,” is a large stone said to weigh 1680 carats, and by many believed to be a piece of white topaz. It was found in Brazil, some say at a place called Cay-de-Merin near the river Malhoverde. It is still in the rough and no one is allowed to see it, nevertheless estimates have been made of its value as high as £224,000,000, a sublime figure since the discovery and sale of the Cullinan, nearly twice its size, for one million dollars.
The ” Regent of Portugal,” a round diamond of 215 carats valued at 396,800 guineas, is said to have been found by a negro in 1775 near or in the River Abaïte, a few miles north of the River Plata.
August the Strong bought a stone of remarkable color for 60,000 thalers which has been in the possession of the Saxon Crown since 1743. It is the ” Green diamond of Dresden,” a fine quality, flawless, almond-shaped stone of a bright apple-green color, weighing 40 carats. It is in the Green Vaults of Dresden.
The ” Dresden,” so named after the original owner, Mr. E. Dresden, is a diamond of exceptional color and brilliancy, and faultless, weighing 76 carats. It weighed in the rough 119% carats, and was evidently part of the original crystal only. It was found at Bagagem in the western part of Minas Geraes, Brazil, some say July, 1853, but Streeter, who received his in-formation direct from Mr. Dresden, says it was found in 1857, brought shortly after to Rio de Janeiro and sold to the owner’s agents, who forwarded it to him in London the same year. It was then cut in Amsterdam to an egg-shape drop. In 1863 a rajah visited London for the purpose of buying it, but would not pay the price asked, viz.: £40,000. A merchant with him said he would pay the price if he could afford it. Later, by a rise in cotton during the Civil War of America, he found himself rich enough to do so, and sent an agent for it. The middleman got it for £32,000, making a profit of £8000 by the transaction. The merchant lost his fortune and dying, the heirs sold it to the Maharajah Sivaji Ras, Gaikwar of Baroda, for 140,000, in whose family it remains.
One of the most important stones from the mines of Brazil, is the Star of the South.” It was picked up by a negress at work in the mines of Bagagem, Minas Geraes, July, 1853. The crystal, which weighed 25472 carats, was an irregular dodecahedron with very obtuse angles, having 24 natural facets. Faint streaks thereon suggested possible octahedric cleavage. Apparently it was one of a group originally, as there was a deep depression in one of the facets which had evidently been occupied formerly by an octahedral crystal, and in other parts of the surface were two similar depressions. On one side also there was a flat place as though other crystals had been twinned with it. There were several inclusions, thought to be small plates of titanic iron. It is said that the negress received her freedom and a pension for life as a reward, and that her master, Casimiro de Tai, sold the crystal for 13,000. The purchaser upon depositing it with the Bank of Rio de Janeiro, got advances of 130,000 on it. Ultimately it was sold in the rough to a syndicate headed by Halphen for, some say 302, some, 430 contos de reis (about 134,000 to £48,000). They named it ” Estrella do Sud,” and had it cut to an oval brilliant of 125 carats by Voorsanger in the establishment of Coster in Amsterdam at a cost of nearly £500. The size of it is 35x29x19 mm. The quality is fine and it is clean. After cutting, it was exhibited in the Dutch department of the London Exhibition in 1862, and at Paris in 1867. An Indian rajah offered through a merchant 110,000 pounds for it, but the offer was refused. Later Mr. E. Dresden bought it for the Gaikwar of Baroda for 8 lacs of rupees or about £80,000. This was the Hindu prince who had a habit of administering powdered glass (some say diamond dust) to obnoxious subjects. He extended the practice to others, and experimented with the British Resident, Colonel Phayre, whereupon he was arraigned, tried, found guilty and deposed.
The first large diamond found in South Africa was a river stone weighing 83/ carats. Van Niekirk got it from a native and sold it in Hopetown for £11,200. It was cut to a pear-shape brilliant of 46% carats and named ” Star of South Africa.” It is a stone of very fine color and quality, similar to the Indian stones. The Countess of Dudley bought it for about £25,000, since which it is often mentioned as the ” Dudley ” diamond.
The ” Porter Rhodes,” so named after the owner of the mine in which it was found, is one of the finest diamonds of large size taken from the Cape diggings. It was found February 12, 1880, and weighed 150 carats. The color is blue-white; rare in any size and extremely so in large sizes. It was exhibited at Streeter’s museum on Bond Street and valued at £200,000. It came from one of Mr. Porter Rhodes’ Kimberley claims.
A yellowish crystal from a claim in the River diggings at Waldeck’s Plant on the Vaal, was for several years the largest known Cape stone. It was found in 1872, and weighed 288 3/4 carats. At that time it was mentioned as the ” July diamond.” Since cutting, it is known as the ” Stewart ” and is a yellowish brilliant of 120 carats. This stone illustrates the uncertainties of mining, and the finding of it reminds one that it is ” the unexpected which happens.” It was taken from a claim that was regarded as practically valueless, and the original owner sold it for £30. The buyer did not think enough of it to work it himself, so he turned it over to one Antoine to work on shares. One day, while showing a boy working for him just where and how he wanted him to work, Antoine’s pick brought the ” July diamond ” to light. It is said that he was so excited over the find that he could not eat for two days. The stone so unexpectedly turned up, was sold, it is said, for £6,000, and again for £9,000.
Dr. George F. Kunz says of the Tiffany diamond: ” The Tiffany diamond was found in the mines of the French company of the old De Beers mine, in 1877. The crystal was a beautiful octahedron weighing 280 carats. It was cut by a French diamond-cutting company in Paris in 1878 and was bought, through Mr. Charles Reed, the Paris member of the firm, for Messrs. Tiffany & Co. in 1879 and imported into the United States; since then it has been in their possession. It is of a rich canary, almost orange yellow color, and is believed to be the finest yellow diamond known. The diamond has 40 facets on the crown, 44 on the pavilion, 17 on the girdle, a culet and a table; 103 facets in all. It measures 22 millimeters, 22/25 inches in height; 28.25 millimeters, 1 1/8 inches across; 27 millimeters wide, 11/12 inches across. It was described in Science, Vol. LX, p. 235, August 5, 1887.
” It was exhibited at the World’s Fair at Chicago in 1893 and the Pan-American Exhibition held at Buffalo in 1901. It is the one jewel that is not for sale in the house of Tiffany & Co. and has been shown by them to more people than possibly any other large diamond known. The stone is wonderfully brilliant and rich in color, and as faultless as any large stone of that kind has ever been.”
The ” Pasha of Egypt,” a fine octagonal brilliant of 40 carats, was bought by Ibraham, Viceroy of Egypt, for £28,000.
The ” Cumberland ” was bought by the City of London for £10,000 and presented t0 the Duke of Cumberland after the battle of Culloden. The House of Hanover claimed it, and about thirty-five years ago Queen Victoria restored it to them. Its weight is 32 carats.
The name ” Victoria ” has been given to two stones found in the Cape. One, taken from the De Beers, March 28, 1880, weighing 428 1/2 carats in the rough, and variously reported as weighing 22872 and 28872 carats when cut to a brilliant. It is said to have been sold t0 an East Indian prince. This stone was yellowish and a quite regular octahedron. The other came to Europe in 1884, from what mine is not known. It was colorless and in form an irregular octahedron weighing 457 carats, which was reduced to 180 carats by cutting to an oval brilliant. It was exhibited in the French jewelry section on the Champs du Mars at the Paris Exposition of 1889, and sold finally to the Nizam of Hyderabad for £400,000. It has since been known as the ” Nizam,” though an older stone in the Hyderabad treasury has long borne the name.
Many large stones have been found in the Cape mines which for various reasons have not come to public notice. In the early days of diamond mining, few records were kept. Knowledge of large stones found, was often of the character which comes of rumor. Men who had such stones, frequently had also serious reasons for wishing to hide the fact from public knowledge. Some who had them, stole them; others bought them knowing that they were stolen. It is told that one fine diamond crystal of upwards of 200 carats was bought by a dealer of a Kaffir for £15. The early history of many noble gems is enshrouded to hide the knavery which escorted them from the mine to the cutting wheel. Those who knew, would not tell of the interval between the disappearance of Louis XIV’s blue diamond from the Garde-Meuble and the appearance of the blue diamond called the ” Hope.” Nor would those who know, dare to let it be publicly known, whence some of the great African diamonds came, and how from hand to hand they passed to the cutter. There are enough large diamonds known to have come from the Cape, however, from the early working of the mines onward, to show how prolific of large stones those fields are. The climax was thought to have been reached when on June 30, 1893, a Kaffir picked up a crystal, while loading a truck in the Jagersfontein mine, weighing 9713/4 carats. The man contrived to secrete it without being observed by the white overseer standing near by, but delivered it to the manager him-self later. Immediately the whole civilized world was informed of the great discovery. After five centuries, the boast of India was eclipsed, and the ” Great Mogul,” to which every writer on the subject had referred as the greatest diamond of the world, was relegated to second place in the history of gems. The enormous and precious crystal, at once estimated to be worth fabulous sums of money, was named the ” Excelsior.” The finder was rewarded by a gift of, some say £500, others £150, a horse, saddle and bridle, and the diamond fields and the diamond dealers of the world boiled with excitement. The color was reported to be fine, and the only difficulty which confronted the owner was to get a purchaser who could find use and pay for such a monster gem. Later developments obviated the impediment of size considerably, for there were internal flaws so placed that a material reduction must result from their elimination. The shape also made it impossible to cut a single brilliant from it without unusual and wasteful loss of material. The crystal measured 3 inches in length by 172 inches thick, and its breadth varied from 1 1/2 to 2 inches. As no purchaser appeared, it was finally decided to cut it. After much study, it was planned to cleave it into ten pieces, and cut them into drop and marquise shape brilliants. The work was very successfully done at Amsterdam in 1904.
According to the United States Geological Survey report of 1904, the three largest cleavages weighed, 158, 147, and 130 carats respectively, and the cut gems produced were as follows:
No. 1 68 carats Drop (pear shape).
2 45 30/32 Drop (pear shape).
3 45 26/32 Drop (pear shape).
4 39 10/32 Marquise (oval Brilliant).
5 34 2/32 Drop.
6 27 30/32 Marquise.
7 25 22/32 Marquise.
8 23 24/32 Marquise.
9 16 12/32 Drop.
10 13 17/32 Drop.
340 13/32 in all.
Another large crystal found in the same mine in 1895 is often confounded with the Excelsior. It weighed 640 carats. It is now one of the most perfectly cut oval brilliants in existence and weighs 239 carats. It is said to be the finest large diamond in the world, faultless in color, luster, brilliancy and purity. It was exhibited in the Paris Exposition in 1900 under the name of the ” Jubilee,” in honor of Queen Victoria’s jubilee of 1897. The diamond measures 1 5/8 x 1 3/8 inches and is one inch thick.
As another striking illustration of the uncertainties of mining, it is reported that a man had contracted for all the stones taken from the claim in which the Excelsior was found, up to June 30, inclusive. The big stone was one of the last found on that day.
It is reported that the diamond seal of Charles I of England is now among the Crown jewels of Persia. The royal arms of England are cut in this stone. King Charles gave this at the last moment before his execution, to his faithful attendant, Herbert, with orders to convey it to his son, the Prince of Wales. It is probable that this was done, and that Charles II, who during his exile was in constant need of money, sold it to Tavernier, with whom he was acquainted. Tavernier made several journeys to the East to buy and sell jewels, and King Charles’ seal probably journeyed with him.
There are many stones of some celebrity to which histories of an apocryphal character are attached. For instance, the ” Agra ” diamond, sold at Christie’s in London, February 22, 1905, for $25,000. This is the stone of which it is said, that when the King of Delhi’s jewels were looted in 1857, a young English officer got possession of it and attempted to smuggle it away by putting it in a horse ball and making a horse swallow it. The horse died, but the diamond was taken from the stomach and afterwards sold to the Duke of Brunswick. It was a brilliant rose pink stone with some black spots in it which were taken out by a cutter of Paris, who thereby reduced the weight of the diamond from 46 to 31 1/2 carats. An American who was in Paris in 1889, believes it to be the same stone which he had in his possession there for some time, and which he says was re-cut there from 70 to 31 13/32 carats. In common with many other Indian stones, it was connected with the Mogul Baber, founder of the Mogul dynasty in India, the favorite story being that the Emperor wore it in his turban.
In an immense belt, owned by the rajahs of Panembohan and Pongerons, studded with diamonds from the neighborhood of Landak, Borneo, is one stone which weighs 67 carats.
The Crown jewels of Portugal are credited with a diamond of 215 carats and another somewhat smaller, which are said to have been found by three men who were banished to the province of Minas Geraes, and purchased their freedom with them. The large one is probably the ” Regent of Portugal,” mentioned heretofore.
A 10 carat red diamond in the Russian Crown jewels cost the Emperor Paul I00,000 rubles.
Since the opening of the African mines, the many large stones found, larger than those of the old times made famous by romance and associations, and many too, as beautiful, have passed quietly through the channels of commerce to private collections without attracting public comment. Now that by changes of conditions, men gather riches by finance instead of by violence, and are able to loot treasuries without danger or fatigue, the excitements 0f mystery and murder are withdrawn from the products of the diamond mines. Gems of greater worth and beauty than those that sparkled from the heads of idols and Peacock thrones, or upon the persons of the lords of rapine, untrumpeted by legendary rumor, are disenchanted and reduced to the ranks of prosaic commerce. No longer do picturesque freebooters gather hordes of fighting men to swoop down upon the treasure chests of potentates; but their descendants, in broadcloth and starched linen, by the battle of wits, enrich themselves, and buy jewels more wonderful than those which glitter in legend and romance.
Time was when few of the large diamonds of the world were to be found outside the lands of the Orient. While India was the chief source of supply, her powerful princes let few escape them. Occasionally, Persia by violence acquired some of them, and a few were stolen. Then as the adventurers of Europe pushed their way east and made settlements in India, there came opportunities to dispose of loot, and an odd stone of size was now and then smuggled away and sold to some crowned head of Europe. Then came the discovery of diamonds in Brazil. The intimate relations of that country as an old-time colony of Spain and Portugal, opened a new avenue between diamond mines and Europe, unhampered by the jealous desire to own the best of the product which characterized the ruling element of India, so that although Brazil produced few large stones, the export of those that were found, was not restricted as in India.
Not until the discovery of diamonds in Africa, how-ever, did Europe acquire freely stones of a size sufficiently large to have them recorded among the celebrated. Now the monster gems of the Orient that have long ranked among the world’s wonders are fast becoming insignificant among the numerous larger ones furnished by the empire of Britain in Africa, and the last of the great diamonds found, taken from the New Premier mine, is now the world’s greatest diamond. Here is the story of the discovery.
Out in the Transvaal, one evening late in January, 1905, where the faith and energy of Tom Cullinan, as his familiars called him in those days, had transformed an old-fashioned Boer farm in the wilds, into a mining camp, and broken the calm and silence of a solitude by the click of picks, the whiz and whir of machinery, the stir and bustle of many workmen, and the constant tremor of expectation, a bluff, genial-faced man might have been seen leisurely picking his way down the rough broken surface of an open working in the Premier diamond mine. He was the mine manager, Cap. Frederick Wells. His eye roved as he walked, for the rugged, desolate-looking waste, though devoid of the green things which cover the earth’s nakedness and grow to the pleasure of the eye, was not altogether barren. That rough hole in the ground was the hiding place of gems, and from the habit of years he looked always that per-chance he might discover one. Suddenly a gleam from the rough face of the jagged slope he was descending, caught his eye. He turned, and stooping down, picked from its bed in the rock, a huge crystal. It looked like a piece of ice; it was a diamond. After turning it over in his hand for a few seconds, he walked on toward the office of the company near by and entering, handed the stone to General Manager McHardy who, with the president, Mr. T. M. Cullinan, sat at a table inspecting the day’s yield of diamonds. For a few minutes the men stared at it and each other in silence. Familiar as they were with diamonds, they did not realize at once the importance of that fist-size lump of glitter. In that stone lay the whole capital stock of the company three times over. It meant fortunes to them and to the men in London who had backed the enterprise with their money, for it would give stimulus to the venture and raise the mine in the estimation of the world to the level of the De Beers and Kimberley. That unexpected stone was to teach the lords of the diamond world that another had arisen who would surely enter the cabinet that ruled.
Soon, to all parts of the world the message went, that back in the heart of Africa in the new mine of the Transvaal, a diamond had been found four times as large as the boast of ancient India; more than three times the size of Excelsior, the wonder of the modern world. Newspapers all over the world told the facts and filled out the columns with imagination. Writers vied with each other in estimating the value of the colossal gem. Four million dollars was the lowest figure; one hundred million, said some.
The diamond was found to weigh 3025 3/4 carats, or nearly twenty ounces troy and measured 4X2 1/2xI 1/2 inches. It was taken to Pretoria and from there to Johannesburg, where it was deposited in the Standard Bank. While there it was submitted to the examination of scientists and exhibited to the public for some days.
It was then sealed in a tin box and sent registered as ” postal packet ” to the London office of the Company.
Dr. Molengraff pronounced it a portion only of a much larger crystal. Four cleavage planes showed where as many pieces had been broken off. Only a small part of the exterior showed the natural skin or ” nyf ” of a crystal, the greater part of the surface consisting of the four cleavage planes. The remainder showed one octahedral face and a curved irregular surface roughly corresponding to six faces of the dodecahedron, while one very irregular face of the hexahedron was indicated by quadrilateral impressions characteristic 0f those faces in minerals, such as the diamond, which have the octahedral form of crystallization.
With the exception of a few glessen or grain marks, and minor flaws, which could be eradicated in the cutting, the stone appeared to be perfect and it so proved later when it was cut.
Sir William Crookes thought that it was probably less than half of a distorted octahedral crystal. Some experts were of the opinion that originally it was in the form of a dodecahedron. All pronounced it the purest of all the very large stones known. A beam of polarized light passed through it in various directions showed colors in all cases; brightest when passed along the greatest diameter, but no regular figure was to be seen. Sir Wm. Crookes was reported as saying that these observations denoted internal strain.
When it was sent to London in March by registered mail, it was insured for two hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling, and upon being deposited in the London & Westminster Bank, arrangements were made to insure it for about $2,500,000 by special premiums against loss each time it was taken out to show prospective purchasers. It was named the Cullinan, after T. M. Cullinan, the chairman of the Premier Company.
For a long time the great diamond lay there, as completely hidden from the light as it had been for ages in its volcanic birthplace in Africa, its enormous value and the size which rendered it unfit for most gem purposes, making a sale impossible. There was much talk of starting a popular subscription in England to buy it for King Edward as a present from the people of the whole British Empire, but nothing was done, probably because the advocates of that course put such a high valuation on the stone (ten million pounds sterling was the general figure), possibly because many saw in the suggestion a good business stroke for the owners at the expense of the public. Finally, at the instance of President Botha, the Transvaal Assembly voted to buy it and present it to King Edward as a recognition of His Majesty’s grant of a constitution to the colony. There was considerable opposition to the scheme on account of the finances of the colony, but the motion was carried by a vote of 149 to 119 and the price fixed upon was about $1,000,000. The actual outlay was but forty per cent. of the amount, as the Transvaal government exacts as a tax, sixty per cent. upon all diamonds mined within its jurisdiction.
On November 9, 1907, nearly three years after the diamond was picked out of the “blue” of the Premier mine in Africa, Sir Richard Solomon, formerly lieutenant governor of the Transvaal, on behalf of the people of the colony, accompanied by Sir Francis Hopwood, permanent Under-Secretary of the Colonial Office, presented the diamond to the King at Sandringham. They were attended by Inspectors Drew and Gough, and from the time they took the diamond from the vaults of the London and Westminster Bank until it was returned to its place of security, the party was in charge of Scot-land Yard and surrounded by detectives. Arrived at Wolferton, the two knights entered a royal carriage awaiting them and preceded by an outrider, drove to Sandringham. Upon reaching the royal abode they were conducted to the drawing-room, where they were shortly joined by the King and Queen, the Queens of Spain and Norway, the Princess of Wales, the Princess Victoria, the Princess Henry of Battenberg and others. Sir Richard Solomon at once presented the diamond to the King. He examined it with interest, and expressing his admiration, handed it to the Queen, who in turn with the other ladies present, inspected it. At the invitation of the King, Sir Richard Solomon and Sir Francis Hop-wood lunched with members of the royal family and returned to London by the 2 :55 P. M. train, taking the diamond with them.
Now came the important matter of cutting the great diamond. After much deliberation, it was decided to entrust the work to the firm of J. Asscher & Co. of Amsterdam. A replica in clay was made and experimented upon. The crystal was studied in every aspect to find how the flaws could be lost in the cutting; into what shapes and sizes of cut gems the crystal could be transformed with the minimum loss of weight, and to that end, where and how it should be cleaved. A decision was finally reached, to make one large cleavage which would pass through the interior flaw. Of the resulting two pieces, if the cleaving was successful, one should be cut as a large pendeloque or drop shape, and the other cleaved again for a large brilliant and other smaller gems of various sizes and shapes. The preliminary work of making a V-shaped incision, with a diamond sharp, in the grain of the great crystal where it was to be split, was accomplished, and the moment arrived when the blow must be struck which would make or mar the greatest diamond in the world. The nick in the edge of the crystal was about half an inch deep. Into this incision, in the presence of his two brothers of the firm, and three representatives of the British Government, Mr. J. Asscher placed a specially constructed knife blade and making ready, struck it a heavy blow. There was a splitting, breaking sound, but on opening the hand which covered the diamond, that was found intact the blade had broken. Another blade and another blow, and the crystal parted in twain, the facets of the two parts smooth as glass, except where the cleavage passing through the flaw, left a little icing to show where it had been and which would soon disappear with the cutting.
For the cutting, special tools had been prepared. The drop, 6 inches across and weighing twenty pounds, was attached to a lever so that the stone could be raised from or lowered to the wheel by foot power. The mill, of cast iron, measured 16 1/2 inches across and made 2400 revolutions per minute. The cutting was placed in charge of Mr. Henri Koe.
Great precautions were taken for the safety of the stone. No one was allowed to leave or enter the cutting room, where the three men employed in the cutting were employed from 7 A. M. to 9 P. M., without a member of the firm. At night the diamond was kept in the strong room and guarded by four policemen. It was taken back and forth to the cutting room by the head of the firm and ten men. A night watchman made a certain mark at the strong room every half hour during the night to show that everything was properly guarded. The walls of the strong room, of iron and cement, were 3/4 of a yard thick, and the door was opened by a combination known only to the three heads of the firm. Within, the safe was hidden behind a mahogany cup-board with two handles but no locks visible. There were nine locks, however, behind a sliding panel, and two safes, in one of which was the diamond, and the door of the safe was of eight-inch steel. On account of the great size, it was decided to increase the number of facets usual in the brilliant cut, to 74 for the largest stone and 66 for the second largest. The latter is a square cut brilliant. The greatest of all diamonds was finished September 12, 1908, in time for Christmas.
The final result of the cutting up of the crystal was as follows :
1 Pendeloque or drop shape 516 1/2
1 Square Brilliant 309 3/16
1 Pendeloque 92
1 Square Brilliant 62
1 Heart shape Brilliant 18 3/8
1 Marquise Brilliant 11 1/4
I Marquise Brilliant 8 9/16
1 Square Brilliant 6 5/8
1 Pendeloque 4 9/32
96 Brilliants 7 3/8
Unpolished ends 9
and the marvel of it is that they are absolutely without flaw and of a fine blue-white color. The largest stone measures 2.322×1.791 inches, and the next important, 1.771X1.594 inches.
King Edward, who followed the process of cutting with much interest, as a token of his appreciation of the eminently successful results, presented the firm of cutters with a silver bowl, and the Queen of Holland conferred the Knighthood of Orange Nassau on Joseph Asscher. The knife and hammer with which the cleaving was done were presented to the King.
Thus has been added to the Crown jewels of England, magnificent symbols of her power, and coming as a gift from a colony which was but a short .time since a desperately inimical government, they are glowing testimonials to the general policy of a nation which has be-come the most successful colonizer of the world.
For comparison, the weights of the great cut diamonds of the world at present known to be in existence are appended :
Cullinan I 516 1/2
Cullinan II 309 3/16
Victoria (?) 228 1/2
Regent of Portugal 217
Orloff 194 3/4
Victoria (?) 180
Porter Rhodes 150
Regent (Pitt) 136 7/8
Florentine 133 1/8
Star of the South 125 1/2
Tiffany 125 1/2
Koh-i-noor 106 1/4
The great diamond was received by the King and Queen at Windsor Castle from Mr. Asscher on November 21, 1908.
The ” Prince Edward of York Diamond,” a fine white pear-shape African stone weighing 604 carats, was imported in 1901 by Alfred H. Smith & Co., the New York diamond merchants, and sold to an American banker.