Famous Diamonds: Cullinan II

The Cullinan II is a 317.40-carat cushion cut diamond, and the centerpiece of the British Imperial State Crown. Do you know the history behind this beautiful diamond?

This famous diamond is also known as the “Second Star of Africa” because it is the second largest cut stone originating from the great Cullinan diamond found in South Africa, the largest diamond ever discovered at 3,025 carats. The Cullinan, named after Thomas Cullinan, the Chairman of the Premier Diamond Mining Company, was presented to the King Edward VII of England as a birthday gift on November 9, 1907, from the nation of South Africa.

The Culllinan II, a 317.4-carat rectangular cushion cut, is set into the Imperial State Crown. - Courtesy Time & LIFE Pictures/Getty Images

The Culllinan II, a 317.4-carat rectangular cushion cut, is set into the Imperial State Crown. – Courtesy Time & LIFE Pictures/Getty Images

The British royalty had the Cullinan Diamond cut into 9 large diamonds and 96 small brilliants, including the Cullinan I (also called the Great Star of Africa which is in the Sovereign’s Sceptre), and the Cullinan II, set in the front of the band of the Imperial State Crown. Did you know that both the Cullinan I and II can be taken out of their existing settings, and mounted together as a brooch? We’ll discuss the Cullinan III and IV in a later installment of our Famous Diamonds series.

At the end of the coronation ceremony, the king or queen exchanges the Imperial State Crown for St. Edward’s Crown. The Imperial State Crown is also used on formal occasions, such as the annual State Opening of Parliament. This crown was made for the coronation of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II’s father, in 1937, by Garrard & Company. It is closely based on a crown designed for Queen Victoria in 1838 by the crown jewelers of the time, Rundell, Bridge & Rundell.

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