Jewellery can become priceless for a variety of reasons, from the pure sentimental beauty of a favoured silver twisted slave bangle to a work of gem-cutting art of a type that had not been seen before and would not be seen again.
In some cases, such as the largest diamond ever found, a priceless piece may be called such because no amount of money could be enough for it to change hands, as is potentially the case with the Cullinan Diamond.
Weighing a grand total of 3,106 carats (over 620g of pure diamond), the diamond was discovered amidst considerable interest in 1905 and led to the most ludicrous scheme to get it to the UK.
Whilst a steamship was charted with detectives onboard and a stone locked ceremonially in a safe, the stone itself was actually sent in a regular box via the post, diverting potential onlookers away.
Whilst it was incredibly large and beautiful, complete with Newton’s rings, it went unsold for two years until the Prime Minister of South Africa chose to offer the diamond as a gift to King Edward VII, a gift that he only accepted after persuasion by Winston Churchill.
The stone was then sent to Amsterdam, again via decoy, as the rough stone was split over eight months.
The two largest stones, Cullinan I (Known as the Great Star of Africa) and Cullinan II (The Second Star of Africa), were added to the Crown Jewels, the former sits atop the Sovereign’s Sceptre With Cross and the latter is on the front of the Imperial State Crown.
The rest were kept by the gem-cutter, Joseph Asscher & Co until 1910 when they were bought by the South African government and given to Queen Mary.