During and after the gold rush, California’s demand for oil increased significantly. By the early 1900s, it was the leading state in the country for oil production. Above is an incredible image of dozens of derricks rising out of the Pacific Ocean in the Summer land oil wells. One of the most accurate depictions of this part of history is the award winning 2007 film There Will Be Blood, which is based on Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil!.
King Edward, paranoid that his diamond would be stolen while in transit to him, had a fake sent at the same time, on a steam ship bristling with detectives. The tactic worked and the real diamond made its way back to the UK. It was entrusted to a stone cutter named Joseph Asscher, the same man who cut the Excelsior Diamond. Asscher took a full six months to prepare before making his first cut on the Cullinan.
Diamond is extremely hard. The Cullinan broke Cullinan’s steel blade on his first cut. The second try saw the rock break in exactly the way Asscher had intended it to. Asscher, driven to the brink by the pressure of the moment, fainted.
Surprisingly, the enormous diamond was not allowed to remain enormous. It was divided into nine large stones and 98 smaller ones. The largest specimen, called the “Star of Africa I” or “Cullinan I,” is the world’s largest fine-quality colorless diamond. The world’s second largest also came from the original Cullinan, called the “Star of Africa II” or “Cullinan II,” and is 317 carats to Star of Africa’s 530 carats.
Cullinans I, II and III are all on display at the Tower of London, along with the other crown jewels. Cullinan I was mounted to the British Sovereign’s Royal Scepter and the Cullinan II was mounted to the Imperial State Crown.