Thursday, November 9, 2017

YOUR BUSINESS IS OUR BUSINESS: Trade Cullinan diamonds on the world’s markets


By Karl Lyimo

Today, November 9, is ‘Inventors Day’ in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, designated to commemorate contributions by inventors to the national economy. Countries are free to designate a date of their own choice.

Unfortunately, Tanzania’s yet to designate ‘Inventors Day’ – although the President John Pombe Magufulu administration (Nov. 5, 2015—) has embarked upon ‘industrialization’ in noble efforts to propel Tanzania to a semi-industrialized, middle-income Economy – in tandem with the ‘National Development Vision-2025.’

Regarding inventions in general: was it sheer coincidence that, for example, Gail Borden – the ‘inventor’ of condensed milk – was born in USA, where ‘Inventors Day’ is February 11? Then again: what was an American surveyor-cum-publisher doing ‘inventing’ condensed milk, instead of surveying and publishing, pray?

Well, I honestly don’t know!

Could it also be said that the underground miner at the ‘Premier Diamond Mine’ in South Africa, Thomas Evan Powell, ‘invented’ the Cullinan diamond on January 26, 1905…? Or, perhaps more accurately:

did he ‘discover/stumble upon’ what later proved to be the largest gem-quality diamond ever discovered – weighing in at 3,106.75 carats (1⅓ pounds; 621.35g)?

Powell handed the stone to the surface manager, Frederick Wells who, at first, reportedly threw it away – not believing it could be the McCoy! Then, on second thoughts, he retrieved it and handed it to the mine’s owner, Sir Thomas Cullinan – after whom the stone was just as soon named! [See />]

Perhaps as the divine Sisters of Fate would’ve it, Sir Thomas was visiting the mine that very psychological moment… And, as they say: the rest is History…

But, half-a-mo… Sages down History have yelled ‘finders keepers; losers weepers’ – virtually pontificating that ‘whoever finds something by chance is entitled to keep it…!’

Well, that never happened in the Cullinan diamond saga, where the ‘finders’ were instead given peanuts for their historic find!

While the Cullinan was estimated to be worth over $400 million, the slogging miner Powell, and the surface manager, Wells, were each awarded £3,500 ostensibly for their honesty in handing it over, instead of ‘pocketing’ it!

The stone was then ‘sold to the Transvaal government for 150,000 pounds.’ Transvaal promptly presented it to British King Edward-VII on his 66th birthday, November 9th, 1907: exactly 110 years ago to the day today… If nothing else, this makes The Cullinan significantly topical here today, November 9!

Insured for $1.25 million when it was posted as a parcel to England, the stone was just as soon entrusted by the King to the prestigious diamond cutter of the time, Amsterdam-based Asscher’s Diamond Co. The cutter, Joseph Asscher, reportedly fainted on seeing the inordinate stone! [Google for ‘HeritageDaily’].

It took eight long months to ‘cut’ the original Cullinan into nine prestigious diamond pieces, 96 smaller ‘brilliants’ and 9.50 carats of unpolished pieces.

All in all, the Mother-of-all-Diamonds ‘gave forth’ Cullinan-I (the ‘Star of Africa:’ 530.20-carats); Cullinan-II (317.40-carats); Cullinan-III (94.40-carats); Cullinan-IV (63.60-carats); Cullinan-V (18.80-carats); Cullinan-VI (11.50-carats); Cullinan-VII (8.80-carats); Cullinan-VIII (6.80-carats), and Cullinan-IX (4.39-carats). All these – totaling 1,055.69 carats (a carat is 200mg) – are worn as the British Crown jewels, or are on display in the Tower of London… For business-minded capitalists with the proverbial dollar-signs in their eyes – and a cold river stone where their God-given heart should be – the Cullinan was bad for business. Look at it this way… Why, for example, would such a high-value, unrivalled resource in historic and mercantile/commercial terms be a royal heirloom monopoly, or museum pieces at the Tower of London?

Shouldn’t the ‘Cullinans’ be part and parcel of the global diamond jewellery market, which hit the $80.1bn mark in year-2016? [© Statista 2017].

‘A diamond is forever,’ yes; but isn’t it past being just ‘a girl’s best friend’ – and into brokers’ hands? Cheers!