Cullinan Diamond Mine
Situated about 30 kilometres east of Pretoria, this is one of the richest diamond mines in the world, yielding an average of 2 million carats a year. Cullinan Diamond Mine is a carrot-shaped volcanic pipe and has a surface area of 42 hectares – about 40 soccer pitches
Three of the world’s most famous diamonds the Cullinan, the Centenary Diamond and Premier Rose were mined at the Cullinan Mine. The Cullinan Diamond 3106 ct was given to King Edward the VII on his 66th birthday from England.
On 26 January 1905 miner Frederick Wells extracted a large diamond from the Cullinan mine, a few kilometres outside Pretoria in South Africa’s mineral-rich Gauteng province. The Cullinan Diamond was the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found, weighing 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g), discovered at the Premier No.2 mine in Cullinan, South Africa, on 26 January 1905. It was named after Thomas Cullinan, the mine’s chairman. In April 1905, it was put on sale in London, but despite considerable interest, it was still unsold after two years. In 1907, the Transvaal Colony government bought the Cullinan and then presented it to Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom, who had it cut by Asscher Brothers in Amsterdam.
Presentation to Edward VII
Transvaal Prime Minister, Louis Botha, suggested buying the diamond for Edward VII as “a token of the loyalty and attachment of the people of the Transvaal to His Majesty’s throne and person”. In August 1907, a vote was held in Parliament on the Cullinan’s fate, and a motion authorizing the purchase was carried by 42 votes in favour to 19 against. Initially, Henry Campbell-Bannerman, then British Prime Minister, advised the king to decline the offer, but he later decided to let Edward VII choose whether or not to accept the gift. Eventually, he was persuaded by Winston Churchill, then Colonial Under-Secretary. For his trouble, Churchill was sent a replica, which he enjoyed showing off to guests on a silver plate. The Transvaal Colony government bought the diamond on 17 October 1907 for £150,000 or about US$750,000 at the time, which adjusted for pound-sterling inflation is equivalent to £15 million in 2016. Due to a 60% tax on mining profits, the Treasury received some of its money back from the Premier Diamond Mining Company.
The diamond was presented to the king at Sandringham House on 9 November 1907 – his sixty-sixth birthday – in the presence of a large party of guests, including the Queen of Norway, the Queen of Spain, the Duke of Westminster and Lord Revelstoke. The king asked his colonial secretary, Lord Elgin, to announce that he accepted the gift “for myself and my successors” and that he would ensure “this great and unique diamond be kept and preserved among the historic jewels which form the heirlooms of the Crown”.
Today, the diamond consists of nine large stones and ninety-six smaller stones; two of the largest stones forming part of the Crown
What to expect:
Duration: 6 hours
We will travel via Rayton to Cullinan and join a local guide for either a surface tour or underground tour
Highlights of the tour:
• Introductory DVD of underground operations (15 min)
• Diamond Display Room – replicas of very famous diamonds (from Cullinan Diamond Mine and all over the world
• Mockup life-size underground tunnel – guide explains the construction of tunnels underground
• Shafts where the kimberlite rock is hoisted from 500m underground to the surface
• Winding Engine Room – the heart of the operation of the shaft
• Lookout point of the Big Hole – where the volcanic eruption took place 1.2 billion years ago ( 4 times larger and 2 x deeper then Kimberly’s big hole
• Diamond Cutting and Jewelry shop – where the end product can be viewed and bought (including the 66 facet Cullinan Star Cut which can only be bought at Cullinan Diamonds, which is the last leg of our tour.
Underground Tour – pre-arranged
You will have to change into special safety gear and head down in a cage to 763 meters below the surface. Temperatures underground are comfortable all year round. It is the only one in the world that allows underground tours. Tour lasts for 4 1/2 hours, a short training on the self-rescue pack will be done which you will also be required to wear underground, as well as your battery pack to light your own cap mounted light. Fully equipped changing rooms are provided and you will be transported from there to the mine lamp room, after which you will journey to the bottom of the mine in a man riding cage (elevator) and tour the workings of the mine.
- Tourist Guide fee
- Pick up and drop off in the Johannesburg area at your Hotel
- Entrance fees
- Water on the vehicle
- Underground tour
Pre-arranged pick up from Hotels/Guesthouses or Airport
- Cancellation fee of 100% if cancelled 14 days or less before departure
- Cancellation fee of 60% if cancelled 21 days or less before departure
- Cancellation fee of 50% if cancelled 28 days or less before departure
- BUS OR MINIVAN TOUR
- DAY TRIPS AND EXCURSIONS
- EDUCATIONAL TOUR