Thailand’s Hidden Gem

The Golden Jubilee Diamond

Going back through some older posts I came across one I had written some time ago entitled  And you Thought You Knew About Thailand. It’s always cool to learn new and interesting things about some place or thing that you love.  Such as The King of Thailand is an American citizen or the fact that it is illegal in Thailand to go out without wearing underwear.

One entry on the ever growing list of interesting Thailand facts has puzzled me for a while so I thought I would dig a little deeper and see what I could find out. The King of Thailand possesses the largest faceted diamond in the world, the Golden Jubilee. Most people have heard of this diamond but there is very little information out there on the subject and even fewer pictures.

Golden Jubilee Diamond after being cut to 545.67In 1985 a brown diamond was uncovered at the Premier mine in South Africa that weighed in at a whopping 755.5 carats uncut. The Star of Africa, weighing in at 530.20 carats,  held the title of the worlds largest cut diamond from 1908 until 1985 when the brown diamond was uncovered and cut to a weight of 545.67 carats, making it the largest cut diamond in the world.

The Culinan I  also known as the flawless D-colour (“colourless”) Centenary diamond This unnamed brown diamond had a very awkward beginnings. Colorless and blue diamonds are very sought after but the brown diamonds are the ugly ducklings of the family and generally worth much less. The unnamed brown diamond was given to Gabriel Tolkowsky by De Beers for the purpose of testing special tools and cutting methods which had been developed for intended use on the flawless D-colour (“colourless”) Centenary diamond. These tools and techniques had never been tested before, and the large unnamed brown diamond seemed the perfect stone to test them on. After all if the new methods employed to cut the stone went amiss it would be no great loss.

What happened next was a surprise to all. The new methods worked better than expected and the unnamed brown diamond turned out to be a very beautiful yellow brown diamond in a fire rose cushion cut. Once cut the the stone weighed in at 545.67 carats which was 15.37 carats heavier than it’s sister stone the flawless Culinan I which was selected and later renamed  to the Centenary to promote herald De Beer’s centennial celebrations.

The Golden JubileeThe still unnamed diamond took a small tour of the world when it was brought to Thailand by the Thai Diamond Manufacturers Association to be exhibited in the Thai Board of Investment Exhibition in Laem Chabang. The exhibition garnered so much attention that there were daily lines of over 1 mile long just to see the yellow-brown stone.

Skipping forward to 1995, a group of Thai businessmen led by one Henry Ho purchased the 545.67 carat diamond from the De Beers group with the intention of presenting it to the King of Thailand in 1997 in recognition of his 50th year on the throne. Before the presentation was made though the diamond still had several trips to make. The first was to the Vatican where the diamond would receive  the Papal blessing by Pope John Paul II and then back to Thailand where it would be blessed by the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch and the Supreme Imam in Thailand.

Golden Jubilee DiamondThe diamond was then presented to King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the 50th anniversary of his coronation day in 1997 where the King gave the diamond it’s name, The Golden Jubilee.  Initial plans were to mount the Golden Jubilee in the Royal Scepter, later discussions centered around mounting the stone in the Royal Seal. Neither has ever happened.

The Golden Jubilee Diamond has been exhibited at Henry Ho’s 59-story Jewelry Trade Center in Bangkok, the Central Department Store in Lad Prao (Bangkok) Thailand, and internationally in Basel (Switzerland), Borsheims in Omaha, USA (owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.), and Gleims Jewelers in Palo Alto, USA.  The Golden Jubilee now resides in the Royal Thai Palace as part of the crown jewels.

Golden Jubilee Diamond An interesting aside to the diamond has to do with the financial collapse of the markets across South East Asia in 1997. Fearing that the people of Thailand would see this gift as too opulent and an arrogant purchase in such economic times, the Thai government decided it would be best to down play the gift and tell the people that the King was gifted a large Topaz.

To this day most Thai’s still believe the Golden Jubilee is a large Topaz and not the worlds largest cut diamond. It’s believed that this reasoning is what kept the diamond from being mounted in the Royal Scepter or the Royal Seal and definitely why there are so few pictures of the diamond after 25 years.

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14 Comment(s)

  1. Talen, you do find the most interesting of things about Thailand!
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Traditional Thai Puppet Theater: Joe Louis =-.

    Catherine | Mar 10, 2010 | Reply

  2. Cat, Thailand is nothing if not interesting. I’d love to get a closer look at this thing…or at least see a better picture of it. All the pics in the post are the only ones around and at best are photo shopped to some extent or too grainy.

    Talen | Mar 10, 2010 | Reply

  3. Are you into gems? Where I spent the weekend is the hub of gem sales in Thailand.

    Google ‘Gem Street Chanthaburi’.

    A pity it was a weekend of rock hunting, as I would have enjoyed seeing the French influence too.

    We brought a boot load of rocks home. There was not a gem in the bunch.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Traditional Thai Puppet Theater: Joe Louis =-.

    Catherine | Mar 10, 2010 | Reply

  4. Random comments :

    “It is illegal in Thailand to go out without wearing underwear.” It appears that many of my former Thai “girlfriends” were breaking the law.

    Why is David Crosby holding up the diamond ? (600px-Gabi.jpg)

    One day my wife announced that we were going to take the family to Kanchanaburi to do some shopping. Apparently this is a great place to buy rubies and sapphires. After we arrived and spent around three hours shopping I suddenly realized that the “bridge over the river Kwai” was located just across the parking lot from where we parked. That trip turned out to be a win-win for everybody. She got some sparkly stuff and I got to see the infamous bridge on the “Death Railway”.

    ChuckWow | Mar 10, 2010 | Reply

  5. Not really into gems but a rock that big would be cool to see close up.I remember seeing the Hope diamond at the Smithsonian when I was a kid and that was very cool.

    A trunk full of rocks doesn’t sound like a fun weekend…hopefully you were rewarded in other ways ;)

    Talen | Mar 10, 2010 | Reply

  6. While the underwear law and some other fairly bizarre laws are still on the books I don’t think they have been enforced in a very long time…at least not in Pattaya.

    I know my girl would never think of going anywhere without underwear and definitely makes sure I have mine on as well.

    I thought that was David Crosby too at first…I’d imagine he’ll be a spokesman for AARP soon enough.

    Definitely a cool way to find out about the bridge when you weren’t expecting it.

    Talen | Mar 10, 2010 | Reply

  7. Reward? Absolutely.

    I got to sleep on a rock hard bed… pee off the side of a mountain… avoid getting bit by a strip miner’s dog… photograph a locked frog condo… and spend two days jotting down what it’s really like traveling the back roads of Thailand with a geologist.

    Oh, and I came back with a 5 kilo Durian (which ripened nicely).
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Traditional Thai Puppet Theater: Joe Louis =-.

    Catherine | Mar 10, 2010 | Reply

  8. Cat, you are a wild woman :)

    Talen | Mar 11, 2010 | Reply

  9. Ah, yes, as wild as they come (as long as I’m down for my nap at one).

    But back to rocks… I wonder what they’ll do with the Golden Jubilee… eventually. No rush, I imagine. The royal abodes must be filled with megga goodies laying around.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Traditional Thai Puppet Theater: Joe Louis =-.

    Catherine | Mar 11, 2010 | Reply

  10. Gee, it’s only worth a paltry $4 million to $12 million, unlike the Cullinan, valued at whopping $400 million. Fascinating topic, Talen. Too bad the Royal Household wouldn’t put some of its possessions on display. I’d go for that. Well, maybe when things quiet down after this Friday. Fingers crossed.
    .-= SiamRick´s last blog ..Canadian boys need to toughen up =-.

    SiamRick | Mar 11, 2010 | Reply

  11. At 4-12 million I suspect most of us finding it would just throw it back :)

    I bet the Royal palace has all manner of cool things to see…one can only hope that one day that will be possible.

    Hopefully Friday is just another boring non event day in Thailand.

    Talen | Mar 11, 2010 | Reply

  12. Talen a very interesting story, the first I’ve read of it. It immediately had me thinking of the gem scam stories you hear about in Thailand. Throw in Pattaya which I believe has a large gemstone outlet and the scams seem much more believable.

    I have seen the gem market ChuckWow comments about and likewise whilst Wilai perused the goodies I had a walk on the Bridge on the River Kwai.

    It’s a shame the truth about the Golden Jubilee Diamond has been played down to topaz status to the Thai people. When it comes to their King I’m certain they wouldn’t mind hearing the truth.
    .-= Martyn´s last blog ..Thailand’s Scarecrows and Black Holes =-.

    Martyn | Mar 11, 2010 | Reply

  13. I am interested in a picture of the Golden Jubilee before being cut.

    Kathy | Mar 19, 2010 | Reply

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