Today In African History: 25th January

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diamond

On this day in 1905, the world’s largest diamond was found at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa…

The 3,106-carat diamond was discovered during a routine inspection by the mine’s superintendent, Frederick Wells. Weighing 1.33 pounds, and christened the “Cullinan,” (after the owner of the mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan).

Cullinan then sold the diamond to the Transvaal provincial government, which presented the stone to Britain’s King Edward VII as a birthday gift.

Edward entrusted the cutting of the Cullinan to Joseph Asscher, head of the Asscher Diamond Company of Amsterdam, who studied the stone for six months before attempting the cut. On his first attempt, the steel blade broke, with no effect on the diamond. On the second attempt, the diamond shattered exactly as planned; Asscher then fainted from nervous exhaustion.

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