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Meeting Cullinan: A jewellery appraiser’s unofficial guide to the famous diamond mine

If you happen to come across a diamond like this in your own business, every stone is laser-inscribed with a unique identifier and accompanied by a Gemological Institute of America (GIA) diamond grading report. Also for sale? A replica of the famed Cullinan Diamond, which now sits proudly in my office as a symbol of the 783-m (2568-ft), 6000-step, and 4.8-km (3-mile) trek it took to conquer Cullinan.

Cullinan diamond replica.


 Other notable diamonds from the Cullinan Mine

The Golden Jubilee; 1986
Weighing 755.5 carats in the rough, and 545 carats polished, the Golden Jubilee is the largest cut diamond in the world. The diamond was purchased from De Beers by a group of investors led by Henry Ho of Thailand in 1995.  (Author’s note: The diamond, originally known as the Unnamed Brown was cut by the famous diamond cutter Gaby Tolkowsky, and presented to the King of Thailand in 1997.When received, the diamond was renamed Golden Jubilee, as it was to be set into a scepter to commemorate the king’s golden jubilee. Fearing a public relations backlash from their financially struggling subjects, the government decided to report the gift to the news media as golden topaz. The ruse must have worked, for there was no upheaval in Thailand over the King’s acceptance of the gift. Plans to eventually mount the diamond in a scepter were never carried out. With its true identity now known to the citizens of Thailand, the Golden Jubilee is part of the Thai crown jewels and is on display in the Royal Museum at Pimammek Golden Temple, Throne Hall in Bangkok.

The Taylor Burton; 1966
This 240.8-carat in the rough, 69.42-carat polished diamond was initially owned by Annenberg, and made famous in 1969 when it was purchased from Cartier for approximately $1050 million U.S. for Elizabeth Taylor by her husband Richard Burton. Elizabeth has been credited with the quote “Big girls need big diamonds.”

The Blue Moon; January 2014
At 29.6 carats in the rough and 12.03 carats polished, this diamond was sold by Sotheby’s for $48,147,708 U.S. in Geneva on Nov. 11, 2015— a world record price for a fancy vivid blue diamond. (Author’s note: The diamond was purchased by a Chinese billionaire for his seven year-old daughter, Josephine, and renamed the Blue Moon of Josephine).


The Cullinan Dream; June 2014
Sold by Christie’s for $25,365,000 U.S. in New York on June 9, 2016, this 122.52-carat blue diamond in the rough and 24.18-carat polished diamond is the largest and most valuable fancy intense blue diamond ever auctioned. Among those in the audience was Mark Cullinan, an international jewellery dealer and the great-grandson of Sir Thomas Cullinan.

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Carole C. Richbourg is an independent gemmologist/appraiser in Northern California and has been appraising full time since 1999. She is an accredited senior appraiser, master gemmologist, and a fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. Richbourg is co-instructor for the American Society of Appraiser’s (ASA’s) GJ-202 appraisal report writing for insurance coverage class. She may be contacted via e-mail at

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