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Recreating the Queens Cullinan Five Brooch

Posted on April 02 2024

Back in 2022, here in London we were celebrating the Queen 70 years on the throne. Her Platinum jubilee was a huge achievement! Unfortunately, that same year she passed away at Balmoral Castle at the age of 96. For the jubilee we created a reproduction of her Cullinan 5 Brooch, a piece steeped in history and provenance.

The Cullinan Diamond is the largest diamond ever discovered , and the jewel has a controversial and fascinating history. Weighing in at a hefty 3106.75 carats it was found in South Africa in 1905 but didn't sell for over two years ,finally being purchased for £150,000, which is around £16 million in todays money. The rough stone was given to Joseph Asscher the creator of the Asscher-cut diamond and was cleaved, sawn cut and polished into 105 individual stones.
Starting with the big guns is the Cullinan 1, the Star of Africa, the world largest cut diamond which resides in the English royal family's Sovereign sceptre. The Cullinan 2 is set into the Imperial State Crown and weighs in at 317.04 carats. The other seven major stones and dozens of minor stones were in the Queen's private collection and are now assumed to belong to King Charles, although there is mounting pressure on the monarchy for the stones to be returned to Africa.
Today we are focusing on the Cullinan 5, set into a beautiful brooch design and described as a heart shape but the stone would hardly live up to today's strict criteria. We would describe the diamond as a freeform Old cut somewhere between a heart-cut and a Pear-cut. The obvious character trait of Old-cut, which has a beauty all of its own, is the lack of a Culet which shows as a spot in the middle of the stone when viewed from the top. If re-cut today using modern technology, like many old stones, the brilliance and value would increase ten fold.
But of course, this is sacrilege to historians.
When researching this brooch it seemed quite the mystery. Everywhere we looked it was described as being a stomacher, a piece of fabric worn across the abdomen by women in the 1500s. Wealthy women would have outrageous jewellery pieces made that would be pinned to their corset. We then finally came across an image of Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth II grandmother and if you look very closely you can spot the Cullinan 5 brooch. The stone is set into a fabulous renaissance style with beautiful scroll work finished in Mill grain and is so iconic it is impossible to miss.
The piece has been repurposed as a brooch to bring it more up to date and make it more modern and wearable, as by the 1920s Stomachers were well out of fashion. Many large historical pieces get broken up and repurposed over the years, which is a bit of a shame! Can you imagine how many plundered treasures have been broken up, sold and now sit on someones finger, whilst their history and provenance are lost to history.

Recreating the Queen's Cullinan 5 Brooch is no small feat, but with the right team of artisans by your side, anything is possible. From sourcing the finest gemstones to meticulously crafting every intricate detail, each aspect of the process is infused with creativity and dedication. The result? A breathtaking masterpiece that captures the essence of timeless elegance and luxury. 

If you want to see how we made this reproduction CLICK THE LINK 

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