Cullinan Blue and White Diamond Necklace

This necklace was inspired by a diamond the size of a pear - the largest ever found to date.

On display starting May 17, 2013 - only until August
Find it in the Teck Suite of Galleries: Earth's Treasures, on Level 2

Early in the years of the last century, South African diamond magnate Thomas Cullinan made his wife a promise - but he didn't keep it.

We don't know exactly what he said, but it was along the lines of, "My dear, if I find a big diamond I'll give it to you."
Perhaps Cullinan could have kept his promise, as he found an enormous diamond in a mine near Pretoria - the largest diamond ever discovered to date. But he sold the gem to the South African government of the day, who then gave it to King Edward VII of Britain as a birthday gift.
About the size of a pear, the Cullinan Diamond weighed 3106 carats (approximately 1.3 pounds). The great diamond was cut into nine sizeable diamonds, two of which are in the British Crown Jewels (the Sceptre and the Crown) and the other seven of which are in the private collection of Queen Elizabeth II.
In honour of his own knighthood in 1910, Mr. Cullinan commissioned this necklace for his wife. It is 9-karat rose-gold with silver top, set with 243 round colourless diamonds and nine blue diamonds. Blue diamonds are one of the rarer colours found in natural diamonds, and they represent the nine large gemstones that were cut from the original rough Cullinan diamond. The total weight is 5.57 carats.
Thomas Cullinan's wife passed the necklace down to her eldest daughter, and the tradition continued until it was sold out of the family in the 1980s. The necklace was donated to the Smithsonian Institution on the organization's 100th anniversary.
The Cullinan Blue and White Diamond Necklace is on temporary loan to the ROM from the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, (L2013.7.1).