He was old by prospecting standards. Sixty five years old, in
fact. Let’s go back to January, of 1933. Our prospector had spent,
over time, many thousands of hard working hours searching the
alluvial sands of Elandsfontein, Pretoria, South Africa. He had, up
to this moment, never found any stones of importance. At best,
perhaps, he and his native helper were able to just survive on the
meager takings he had gleaned till now. And yet, to give hope to
all hunters of precious booty, as they hang on to their faith with
their fingernails, to our hero came fortune in the guise of a plug
of mud. As it happened to him, it may one day happen to you.
There had recently been heavy rains in the area, and these rains
had disrupted the normal ground layer, uncovering nature’s hidden
secrets to those that would look. And the native helper bent down
and picked up a plug of mud which he handed the old man. More out
of custom than of suspicion that he might have here more here than
a glob of dirt, the prospector rubbed away the mud caked layer much
in the same manner that Aladdin did when cleaning his magic lamp.
Only this time, rather than a Genie, the prospector found a diamond
the size of a hen’s egg. Clearly, lady luck had decided to kiss his
brow that day.
In all probability, our prospector and his family did not sleep
that night. There were wonders in heaven he had never dreamed
existed. The next morning our prospector deposited his diamond in
the vaults of the Diamond Corporation. It weighed, in its rough
state, 726 carats, and was worth $315,000.00 U.S. Let’s not forget
that this was in 1933, when a loaf of bread was perhaps a
penny…if that much. Our prospector made a fortune.
A year passed. It was now time for the new owners to have the
diamond cut. Leading European craftsmen submitted their ideas as to
how to cut the diamond. For the most part, all the cutters had the
same approach. All that is, except one. An American cleaver by the
name of Lazare Kaplan, of New York. He was an expert in his field;
there was little he did not know about diamonds.
It was decided to give Lazare the diamond to cleave. Lloyds of
London was asked to insure the stone for $1,000,000, but they
refused. The risk was too great. Lazare studied the stone. Another
year passed before, after much analysis, he declared he was ready.
A year of study, to cleave a stone. A process that would only take
seconds. A tiny groove was cut on the line of the split. The moment
had arrived. The diamond could split as per specifications, or it
could shatter into a million pieces. Lazare placed a steel rule
into the groove and tapped it with a mallet. And the stone split in
two, exactly as had been planned. This tap has been called “the
most important mallet tap” in history.
After another year, the stone was cut into twelve perfect
diamonds, the largest of which weighed 143 carats. Total value
now…for all the newly cut stones…$2,000,000 US. And the name of
the prospector who found this little trinket…well, his name was
Jacobus Jonkeer, and he was the discoverer of the Jonkeer diamond,
the second largest diamond found, second in size only to the
And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
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