Tuesday Jan. 26, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Diamonds

On this Day:

In 1905, the world’s largest diamond, the 3,106-carat Cullinan, was found in South Africa.

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 Joseph Asscher & Co. in Amsterdam.

Cullinan produced stones of various cuts and sizes, the largest of which is named Cullinan I or the Great Star of Africa, and at 530.4 carats (106.08 g) it is the largest clear cut diamond in the world. The stone is mounted in the head of the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross. The second-largest is Cullinan II or the Second Star of Africa, weighing 317.4 carats (63.48 g), mounted in the Imperial State Crown. Both are part of the Crown Jewels. 

Cullinan produced 9 major stones of 1,055.89 carats (211.178 g) in total, plus 96 minor brilliants and some unpolished fragments weighing 19.5 carats (3.90 g). All but the two largest stones – Cullinans I and II – remained in Amsterdam by arrangement as the fee for Asscher’s services, until the South African government bought them (except Cullinan VI, which Edward VII had purchased and given to his wife Queen Alexandra in 1907), and the High Commissioner for Southern Africa presented them to Queen Mary on 28 June 1910. Mary also inherited Cullinan VI from Alexandra, and she left all her Cullinan diamonds to her granddaughter Elizabeth II in 1953. Cullinans I and II are part of the Crown Jewels, which belong to the Queen in right of the Crown.

Asscher sold the minor stones to the South African government, which distributed them to Queen Mary; Louis Botha, then prime minister of South Africa; the diamond merchants Arthur and Alexander Levy, who supervised the cutting of Cullinan; and Jacob Romijn (later Romyn), who co-founded the first trade union in the diamond industry. Some were set by Mary into a long platinum chain, which Elizabeth has never worn in public, saying that “it gets in the soup”. In the 1960s, two minor Cullinan diamonds owned by Louis Botha’s heirs were analysed at the De Beers laboratory in Johannesburg and found to be completely free of nitrogen or any other impurities. Cullinans I and II were examined in the 1980s by gemologists at the Tower of London and both graded as colourless type IIa.

Cullinan I, or the Great Star of Africa, is a pendeloque-cut brilliant weighing 530.2 carats (106.04 g) and has 74 facets. It is set at the top of the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross which had to be redesigned in 1910 to accommodate it. Cullinan I was surpassed as the world’s largest cut diamond of any colour by the 545.67-carat (109.134 g) brown Golden Jubilee Diamond in 1992, but is still the largest clear cut diamond in the world. In terms of clarity, it has a few tiny cleavages and a small patch of graining. The 5.89 cm × 4.54 cm × 2.77 cm (2.32 in × 1.79 in × 1.09 in) diamond is fitted with loops and can be taken out of its setting to be worn as a pendant suspended from Cullinan II to make a brooch. Queen Mary, wife of George V, often wore it like this. In 1908, the stone was valued at US$2.5 million (equivalent to US$52 million in 2019) – two and a half times the rough Cullinan’s estimated value (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

Diamond cutters who use lasers have an addiction to crystal math.

Second, a Song:

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a 1953 American musical comedy film based on the 1949 stage musical of the same name. It was directed by Howard Hawks and stars Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe, with Charles Coburn, Elliott Reid, Tommy Noonan, George Winslow, Taylor Holmes and Norma Varden in supporting roles.

While Russell’s down-to-earth, sharp wit has been observed by most critics, it was Monroe’s turn as the gold-digging Lorelei Lee for which the film is often remembered. Monroe’s rendition of the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” and her pink dress are considered iconic, and the performance has inspired homages by Madonna, Beyoncé, Geri Halliwell, Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, Anna Nicole Smith, Christina Aguilera, Ariana Grande, and James Franco.

“Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” is a jazz song with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Leo Robin.

The film is filled with comedic situations and musical numbers, choreographed by Jack Cole, while the music was written by Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Adamson, Jule Styne and Leo Robin. The songs by Styne and Robin are from the Broadway show, while the songs by Carmichael and Adamson were written especially for the film. Despite the film’s title, Monroe was paid her usual contract salary of $500 a week, while Russell, then the better known actress, earned $200,000.

Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) are American showgirls and best friends. Lorelei has a passion for diamonds, believing that attracting a rich husband is one of the few ways a woman can succeed economically. She is engaged to Gus Esmond (Tommy Noonan), a naïve nerd willing to do or buy anything for her. However, Gus is under the control of his wealthy, upper-class father. Dorothy, on the other hand, is looking for a different kind of love, attracted only to men who are good-looking and fit.

Lorelei and Dorothy are steaming on a boat to France, where Lorelei and Dorothy spend time shopping. However, the pair discover that Lorelei’s letter of credit that they were using to finance their trip has been cancelled and then they are kicked out of their hotel. The duo are forced to find work as showgirls in Paris, headlining a lavish revue.  At the show, Lorelei (Marilyn Munroe) performs Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend, the musical number whose lyrics explain why and how women need to pursue men with money. This is the number for which the movie is best known, with Lorelei in a bright pink dress.

However a diamond tiara given to Lorelei has been reported missing and Lorelei is arraigned for theft. 

Dorothy (Jane Russell) stalls for time in court by pretending to be Lorelei, disguised in a blonde wig and mimicking her friend’s breathy voice and mannerisms (per Wikipedia).

This is the scene we have below, where Jane Russell performs Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend in what can only be one of the zanier court scenes filmed.  I hope you enjoy this!


And if you wish to view Marilyn Munroe’s version, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knLd8bfeWtI

Thought for the Day:

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and dogs are a man’s best friend. Now you know which sex has more sense.” – Zsa Zsa Gabor


Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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