The Cullian III and Cullinan IV are the third and fourth largest stones cut from the largest diamond ever found, the 3,106 carat Cullinan Diamond. (The largest diamond produced from it is The Star of Africa). Cullinan III is a 94 carat pear shape diamond and Cullinan IV is a 63 carat square cut brilliant diamond, also known as The Lesser Star of Africa. In the pavilion facets you can see clear hints of Asscher cut style too!
The Cullinan was found in 1905 in South Africa. In the aftermath of the Boer war, it was purchased by the Government of the Transvaal for 150,000 pounds and offered to King Edward VII to mark his birthday, and as a token of ‘the Loyalty and attachment of the people of the Transvaal to His Majesty’s person and throne”.
The cutting of the Cullinan was performed by famous diamond polisher Joseph Asscher, and took eight months. It produced nine major diamonds, which were named Cullinan I to Cullinan IX and 96 smaller diamonds. The total polished diamond wight was 1055 carats, a loss of 65% from the rough.
The two largest diamonds were reserved for the King, and set into the head of the Sovereign’s Sceptre and on the Imperial State Crown in 1910.
Asscher kept the remaining stones as a fee for cutting and polishing. He sold these stones to the South African government in 1910, and they were then given to Queen Mary.
Queen Mary had Cullinan III and IV mounted into a platinum brooch, with Cullinan III on a detachable fitting allowing it to be worn separately or as a pendant on another necklaceThe brooch with the two diamonds is known informally as “Granny’s Chips”, as they are the “chippings” from the much larger rough diamond! Queen Elizabeth II wore it when she visited Asscher’s workshop in 1958. While there (image below), she unpinned the brooch and offered it for examination to Louis Asscher, the brother of Joseph (who had since died). Asscher was deeply moved by the fact that she had brought the diamonds with her, knowing how much it would mean to him seeing them again after almost fifty years. She has only worn it very occasionally, as the size of the diamonds makes it a heavy piece to wear.
A more easily wearable piece is another brooch with diamonds from the same piece of rough, featuring the 11.5 marquise cut Cullinan VI diamond, and the 6.8 carat Cullinan VIII diamond.
It is a wonderful Edwardian platinum brooch, with symmetrical scrollwork and foliage, a common motif of early 20th century platinum jewellery. Although the colour and clarity of these four diamonds is not known, analysis by the GIA of The Star of Africa and of Cullinan II showed them to be D colour and potentially Flawless clarity, so it is reasonable to assume similar quality characteristics from these diamonds, making the larger brooch one of the most valuable pieces of jewellery in the world (before one considers its historical provenance!)