CULLINAN AND THE DIAMOND MINE
The quaint village of Cullinan, near Pretoria, is rich with natural, cultural and historical attractions, but it is the discovery of the world's biggest diamond that put this vibrant little town on the map and added to its sparkle.
On the 25 of January 1905, only two years after the opening of the Premier Diamond Mine, Fred Wells, surface manager at the time, found the Cullinan Diamond. The diamond tipped the scales at 3106 carats and was of exceptional clarity and purity. It was named after the owner of the mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan. The diamond was bought by the Transvaal government and presented to England's King Edward VII on his 66th birthday. It was later cut into 9 major gems and 96 smaller gems. The two largest diamonds now form part of the Crown jewels.
Start your visit to Cullinan with an early morning microlight flight of 15 minutes and get a bird's eye view of the village, the mine and the hole. This is an ideal opportunity to take wonderful photographs. The flights are undertaken by an experienced pilot and and will only take place in perfect weather conditions.
After the flight enjoy a breakfast with sparkling wine at the historic Premier Hotel. Built in 1905, it is one of the oldest landmarks in Cullinan. Recently refurbished, it now offers 4 star accommodation and excellent food.
Follow this with a visit to the showroom of Prima Lux Enterprises for drinks and a fun and informative talk about cut and polished diamonds. Their showroom allows you the opportunity to look at diamonds and jewellery in a safe and discreet environment with friendly staff on hand to give advice. Prima Lux sell a wide variety of diamonds in all shapes and sizes. All their diamonds have undergone a strict selection process and are bought from diamond cutting factories that comply with their requirements.
Prima Lux also sells unique once off pieces by young jewellers as part of their philosophy to give exposure to them. Be sure to visit Prima Lux's new shop at the Cullinan Junction, for exclusive, affordable silver jewellery.
Spend the rest of the morning exploring the quaint shops of Cullinan and the historic stone and corrugated iron buildings dating from the 1900s including churches, miners houses and mine offices. Then have lunch at any one of the many first class restaurants.
Nearby Cullinan is the Zonderwater Prison that was used to accommodate large numbers of Italian prisoners-of-war during World War II.
End the day with a visit to the Petra Diamond Mine with a surface or underground tour. The 2 hour surface tour starts with a 15 minute introductory DVD and then a visit to the Diamond Display Room. This room houses a display of a replica of the Cullinan Diamond and the gems that were cut from it. Here you are also told interesting facts about diamonds as well as their history and geology.
You are then taken to a mock-up of a underground tunnel where you get a good idea of the workings of an underground mine.
It is then on to view an old lift cage and then a visit to the mine head gear and the winding engine room where you can see the big wheels in operation.
The tour ends at the look-out point with an impressive view of the Cullinan Big Hole. The hole is now nearly 1 kilometre long and 400 metres wide at the surface. It narrows down to 21 hectares at the -500 metre level. It was mined to a depth of 190 meters from the surface and is now being mined by underground block caving.