Happy #TravelTuesday folks!
It’s the month of June.. and this month is particularly special because it is Ciki’s Birthday month! I believe that if there is any one time in the year when a girl should splurge on herself, it should be on her birthday. So, if I wanted to travel for my birthday and buy myself some nice diamonds, where would I go.. who would I ask?
Today’s guest writer is my friend Clare from South Africa. She describes herself as a Diamond aficionado, World traveler, Experimental chef, Sports lover, Book worm, Internet devotee…and lover of the good life. Clare will share her Travel Tip on Top 5 diamond inspired travel destinations with us.
1. Cullinan, South Africa
Cullinan is a small mining village, situated about 30km east of Pretoria, South Africa. The town was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan who discovered a rich diamond pipe in 1902. As a matter of fact, the world’s largest diamond, the 3106 carat “Cullinan” diamond was discovered right here, in the mine! This diamond was donated to the British Royal family and was cut into 9 diamonds, many of which now have a home in the Crown Jewels (see destination 3, below).
Cullinan is also great for visitors wanting a convenient get-away from Johannesburg or Pretoria as it offers a range of unique accommodations from game farms to quirky bed & breakfasts, local restaurants, adventure sports and loads of African spas. A trip to Cullinan would not be complete without a tour round the working Cullinan Diamond Mine and you’d even be able to see a replica of the famous 3,106ct Cullinan Diamond!
2. Lesotho, South Africa
Lesotho, affectionately known as the “Mountain Kingdom” is an independent land-locked country, situated entirely within South Africa’s borders. Though you may not have heard of Lesotho, it is famous for its diamonds. Located at a height of 3,100m (10,000ft), Letseng diamond mine is the world’s highest diamond mine. Famous for producing large, top quality diamonds (such as the 603ct Lesotho Promise), Letseng diamonds can be found in top jewellery stores in London and New York.
For tourists, Lesotho provides spectacular mountain scenery as a backdrop to some of the most exciting holiday activities in Africa. For adventure-seekers, the 204m drop down the Maletsunyane Falls is the longest commercial abseil in the world. Pony trekking, hiking and camping and 4×4 trails offer an opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in Africa. You can even try your hand at skiing if you visit Lesotho in winter!
3. London, United Kingdom
London is home to one of the most spectacular jewellery displays in the world: the Crown Jewels. The Crown Jewels are currently on display at the Tower of London following their theft from Westminster Abby in 1303 and they are the reason that most tourists will visit the Tower of London.
Some of the most striking gems set within the Crown Jewels were cut from the famous Cullinan Diamond). The Cullinan I diamond, a massive 530ct pear-shaped diamond, is set within the “Sceptre with the cross” and the Cullinan II diamond is a 317ct diamond, set in the front of the Imperial State Crown. Also included in the Crown Jewels is the infamous Koh-i-Noor diamond, which dates back to 1304 and has the longest history of all known diamonds.
A total of 23,578 gems that make up the Crown Jewels so it is understandable that they are kept under armed guard within the Jewel Tower!
4. Washington, D.C, United States of America
The Museum of Natural History, administered by the Smithsonian Institute is home to one of the greatest displays of diamonds and gemstones on show today. The remarkable collection of gems is displayed in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals and the museum offers free admission, 365 days a year.
One of the most famous diamonds on display at this museum is the Hope Diamond. A 45.52ct, deep blue diamond, the Hope Diamond is currently on display sans a setting, for the first time in its display history.
The Hope Diamond was discovered in the 17th century in a mine in Golconda, India. It has a long and chequered history, with many believing the diamond to be “cursed”. Whether you are superstitious or not, treat yourself with a visit to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History where you will be left breathless by the beauty of the Hope Diamond.
5. Moscow, Russia
You may not immediately associate diamonds with Russia, or even think of Russia as a traveller’s destination, but it is definitely a destination to add your traveller’s wish-list. Russia currently produces some of the world’s top quality (albeit small) diamonds but for visitors to Moscow a stop at the Diamond Fund within the Kremlin is an absolute must.
The Orlov (or Orloff) Diamond is just one of seven historical gems on display in the Diamond Fund and it weighs in at a massive 190ct. The Orlov diamond is cut in a uniquely Indian rose-style cut and it is white in colour with a faint blue-green tinge. Also on display at the Diamond Fund is the 89ct Shah diamond. “The Creator” diamond, mined in Yakutia in 2006 is the third largest raw diamond in the Diamond Fund, weighing a massive 298.48cts.
“Clare is a travelling entrepreneur living in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has an equal love for both diamonds and travel and is fortunate enough to have visited 5 of the 7 continents on her travels, on both business and holiday. Clare owns both a diamond business (http://www.katannutadiamonds.co.za) and an international travel business (http://www.cappleyard.com) where she is committed to helping fellow travel lovers travel more and work less”
Follow Clare on twitter : @clareappleyard