Some of the Queen’s most fantastic platinum jewels are pieces set with stones cut from the famed Cullinan Diamond. Today, our Platinum Jubilee-themed jewelry countdown focuses on the grandest brooch from the set: the Cullinan III & IV Brooch.
The gigantic diamonds set in this brooch were cut from the enormous Cullinan Diamond, a 3,106 carat gemstone discovered in 1905 at the Premier No. 2 mine in Cullinan, South Africa. The superintendent of the mine, Frederick Wells, spotted the stone during his rounds. He’s the person holding the rough diamond in the photograph above.
After some back-and-forth, the stone was presented to King Edward VII of the United Kingdom in November 1907. He sent the diamond to the Asschers in the Netherlands to be cut. After an eight-month process, nine major diamonds were produced from the stone. The pear-shaped Cullinan III (weighing 94.4 carats) and the square-cut Cullinan IV (weighing 63.6 carats) were among the stones purchased from the Asschers after the cutting and polishing process by the South African government. In turn, they offered them as a gift to Queen Mary in 1910, and she had Carrington set them in this platinum brooch a year later.
You’ll spot the brooch pinned to Mary’s bodice in this photograph, taken soon after the brooch was created. (She’s also wearing several other diamond jewels here, including the Westminster Laurel Bandeau and the Love Trophy Collar.)
Queen Mary being Queen Mary, though, she also found other ways to wear the stones from the brooch. The two sections can be separated, allowing the stones to be used in other ways. Here, she wears them in the Delhi Durbar Tiara.
The Queen inherited the brooch from her grandmother in 1953. Five years later, when she headed to the Netherlands for a state visit, she visited the Asscher workshop in Amsterdam. She wore the brooch for the occasion, bringing it back to the place where the diamonds were crafted.
The Queen has generally reserved the Cullinan III & IV for very special and important occasions. One of these was a service of thanksgiving held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in June 2012 during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
She wore the brooch again in 2018 for an appearance in a BBC documentary about British royal coronations.
And in October 2018, she wore the brooch for a state banquet at Buckingham Palace during a visit from King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. The choice of the brooch was a lovely nod to the creation of the diamonds in Amsterdam. (She also wore other jewels also associated with Queen Mary, including the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara and the Diamond Festoon Necklace.)