For some years now, we’ve worked to build a special connection with the unique place that is the Cullinan Mine: source of the largest rough diamond ever discovered: the 3,106 carat Cullinan diamond. It yielded Cullinan I and Cullinan II – the ‘Greater and Lesser Stars of Africa’ – both of which are in the Crown Jewels. They featured during Her Majesty The Queen’s Coronation on 2 June 1953, in the Sovereign’s Sceptre and the Imperial State Crown. And like those diamonds, the remarkable stones in this collection come straight from the Cullinan Mine.
Coinciding with The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, this collection represents a true privilege. We were delighted to have been partners of the Jubilee Pageant, celebrating a sparkling reign. So bring out the bunting and bubbles. Enjoy these treasures from the Cullinan Mine, in settings we hope are fit for The Queen.
Crown jewels and the Cullinan Mine
A Family Story
Visiting the Cullinan Mine
1977 was a significant year. First and foremost, The Queen’s Silver Jubilee: 25 years since Her Majesty’s Accession following the unexpected death of King George VI on 6 February, 1952. And for Boodles, our first trip to the Cullinan Mine. While the people of Britain sang ‘God Save The Queen’, our late Chairman, Anthony Wainwright, and his wife Jean donned spotless white boilersuits and travelled hundreds of metres below ground. They were travelling at the invitation of the World Diamond Council. This February, Anthony Wainwright’s younger son – our Managing Director, Michael Wainwright, his wife Annie – and their daughter Honour, now Boodles Marketing Manager – visited the Cullinan Mine, in South Africa, to literally follow in Anthony’s footsteps. Many of the rough stones they returned with became the jewellery before you today.
When you wear a piece from this collection, you’ll be adding your story to one which started more than a century ago – back in January 1905, when what is still the biggest rough diamond ever discovered was found at the Cullinan Mine in South Africa. At an incredible 3,106 carats, this was the diamond later cut to yield the 530.2 carat ‘Great Star of Africa’, and the 317 carat ‘Lesser Star of Africa’ – both now in the British Crown Jewels, visible in the Sovereign’s Sceptre and Imperial State Crown respectively. So as one anniversary year is echoed by another, and Silver transmutes into Platinum, we celebrate – as always – with diamonds.
How does a diamond find its way from the depths of the Cullinan Mine to you? It all begins with a ‘eureka’ moment: a sparkle is spotted amid the rock dust; a flash of fire, shimmering in the dark. The team in South Africa know what we are looking for: high colour, high purity ‘roughs’. A deal is done, and the stone is on its way to us. Once in London, the rough diamonds are laser-mapped using technology that would have been inconceivable for the man who cut the 3,106 carat diamond from the Cullinan Mine in 1908. (So stressful was the first cleaving, that after three months of planning, Mr Asscher is said to have fainted on completing his task.) As a diamond lover, you’ve probably heard of the ‘four C’s’ – cut, colour, clarity and carat. At Boodles, we like to add a fifth: Clive. Clive is our master diamond cutter, and responsible for helping our Director of Precious Gemstones, Jody Wainwright, create some of our most beautiful diamonds. It’s Clive’s expert eye – and guiding hand – that guarantees a diamond’s perfect finish, as he has done with many of the world’s most famous diamonds over these last four decades.
His bench is where the shape is ‘blocked out’. Facets are angled for maximum refraction and fire, with a microscopic eye always on purity. The term ‘polishing’ does Clive’s work an injustice; few realise it can take months to polish some Boodles diamonds. It’s not unheard of for him to spend a full day polishing an important diamond’s ‘table’ (the top facet of the diamond) alone. After a quick trip to New York and back for GIA certification, the finished diamond is in London once more, to be placed in its setting. (The work of our design team merits a book of its own!) And finally, it’s over to you, in these pages. Which is of course where the next chapter – and your own story – begins.