A visitor to the British Crown Jewels exhibit must go to the Tower of London, where some powerful people have occasionally entered, against their will, and never exited alive.
The day I visited, back in the 1970s, the weather was gray and misty – an appropriate background for the executioner’s block that sat there and the huge ravens that loitered around it.
Impressed now with the gloomiest moments in British history, we tourists were then led into a very secure place within the white stone fortress, dark and hidden from public view (at that time the Jewel House was in the west wing of the Waterloo Barracks).
Down a spiraling walkway we went until we reached the point where darkness was broken by bright lights shining on a few showcases. Brilliant jewels behind the bulletproof glass of those cases, among them the Stars of Africa, the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, Prince Edward’s Ruby, and the Stuart and St. Edward sapphires, broke up the light into a thousand different colors and threw it back into our dazzled eyes.
Today the threat of nuclear war has receded and the British Crown Jewels are kept above ground. If you are ever in London, be sure to visit them to see these, some of the most famous gemstones in the world.
The First and Second Stars of Africa were both cut from the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, the largest gem diamond ever found.