In the summer of
1866, farmer Daniel Jacobs asked his son to find a thin branch so that
he could make a hole through a blocked pipe. While searching for a
branch Erasmus noticed a stone blinking at him in the sun-light.
He picked it up and slipped it into his pocket to take home to his
sister who collected pebbles for a game named "Five Stones."
Erasmus Jacobs in
A few weeks
later the children were playing this game when the previous owner of the
farm came to visit. Schalk van Niekerk noticed the stone, picking
it up he tried to scratch a window pane with it. He asked Mrs
Jacobs if he could buy it from her but she said he could have it for
nothing. A few days later Schalk van Niekerk sold it to John
O'Reilly who was an Irish peddler and hunter.
It is not
known if van Niekerk new he was selling a diamond, but O'Reilly
certainly knew he was buying one. He showed the stone to several
gem-dealers in Hopetown who said it was not a diamond but a 'topaz' and
had no value. O'Reilly took the stone to Grahamstown where he
showed it to geologist Dr. William Guybon Atherstone for his expert
opinion. It was Dr. Atherstone who identified this as the first
diamond to be found in South Africa and told O'Reilly it was worth £500.
O'Reilly then sold it to the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Philip
Wodehouse for just that amount.
blue-white and about the size of a sparrow's egg, it weighed
21.50 carats. The diamond was put on display at the Paris
Exhibition of 1867, it was called the "Eureka" - Greek for "I've
found it" - it is not know who named it.
The area where the
Eureka stone was found was called Colesberg Kopje. The
identification of this diamond helped start the diamond rush,
miners arrived in their thousands. Slowly Colesberg Kopje became
to disappear, and was replaced by a gigantic open-pit mine that became
knows as the "Big Hole". A town formed which was called "New Rush"
but on 5th June 1873 it was renamed Kimberley after the British
Secretary of State of the Colonies, John Wodehouse - 1st Earl of
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