ARGUABLY, the most famous diamond in the world came from an underground mine east of Pretoria.
And now the legendary Cullinan mine has produced another gem – a 342.92 carat Type IIa white diamond.
The diamond was recovered by mine owner Petra Diamonds at the mine in greater Tshwane, and is described in a statement as being “of exceptional quality in terms of both its colour and clarity”.
Cullinan is renowned as a source of large, high-quality gem diamonds, including Type II stones, as well as being the world’s most important source of very rare blue diamonds.
The mine, previously known as Premier Mine, is the source of the world’s largest gem diamond recovered: the famous blue-white Cullinan Diamond found in 1905 and which was 3.106 ct rough.
The Cullinan Diamond, named after the then chair of the mining company Thomas Cullinan, was cut into more than 100 stones with Cullinan I and II – known as the Great Star of Africa and the Second Star of Africa – the two largest cut diamonds. They were set in the Royal Sceptre and Imperial State Crown both of which are part of the British Crown Jewels on display in the Tower of London.
Over the years, Cullinan has produced more than a quarter of all the world’s diamonds greater than 400ct as well as hundreds of stones greater than 100ct. The mine, owned by Petra Diamonds, is also renowned as the world’s only reliable source of blue diamonds.
Other large diamonds found in recent years at Cullinan, according to Petra’s website, include the Cullinan Dream June 2014 – a 112.52 intense blue diamond which sold for $27.6million. The stone was cut and polished into four notably sized diamonds of which the 24.18ct Cullinan Dream is the largest. It sold for $25.3m on auction; making it the largest and most valuable fancy diamond of its type auctioned.
More recently, the Legacy of the Cullinan Diamond Mine, the 424ct rough white diamond,, sold for just under $15m in May 2019; a magnificent 20.08 carat Type IIb blue diamond sold for $14.9m in November 2018 and the Letlapa Tala Collection of five blue diamonds, weighing 85.6ct, sold for $40.36m in November last year.
Earlier this year, an exceptional 299.3ct Type IIa white gem quality diamond recovered at the mine in January sold for $12.18m (about R177m) in March.
A 39.34ct Type IIb blue gem quality diamond recovered in April this year, sold for $40.2m this month, the highest price Petra has received for a single stone. The latest find is expected to be sold at an upcoming tender next month.