Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Orloff Diamond

The Orloff Diamond

The Orloff: Love Flows Through The Orloff, also called The Orlov, is one unusual diamond. Weighing 189.62 carats, The Orloff is mounted in the Imperial Scepter, which was made during the reign of Catherine the Great during the 18th century. It has a bluish-green tint and exceptional clarity that makes it one of the finest Indian diamonds ever discovered. Aside from its color, the shape of The Orloff is also highly unusual. It has been described as resembling half an egg, which gem collectors and historians believe to be the stolen eye of a statue found in a temple in southern India. The diamond got its name when it was sold to Count Grigory Orloff, who gave it to his love, Catherine the Great.


According to the legend, the Orloff Diamond, at one time the third largest cut diamond in the world, was set in the eye of the Hindu god Sri-Ranga in a temple in Srirangem, in southern India.

(Many diamonds share this same past, it seems that at one time or another almost all the famous diamonds in the world were once in a statue!)

The Orloff is an antique rose cut diamond (flat bottom, and faceted domed top), weighing approximately 194 carats, about the size of half an egg. It has never been weighed, though once during cleaning in the early 20th century it fell out of it's mounting. The jeweler performing the cleaning weighed it before putting it back into it's mounting. Unfortunately, he never wrote down the weight. It is a pure colour, with a slightly blue-greenish tint. It measures approximately 32mm by 35mm by 31mm.

According to the story, it was stolen from the temple by a French soldier, who had deserted from Duplex's army after fighting in the Carnation Wars. The soldier fled to Madras and sold the stone to a sea captain for £2,000.

The captain, in turn, is said to have sold it in London for £12,000 to a Persian merchant named Khojeh Raphael, who took it to Amsterdam. For this reason it is sometimes called the "Amsterdam".

In 1775 the Russian nobleman, Count Gregory Orloff, bought the big egg-shaped gem for a vast sum of money and presented it to Empress Catherine, in an attempt to regain his place as her favorite.

The prince was out of favour because of his poor handling of the Ottoman-Russian crisis. He offered her the diamond on St. Catherine's Day in 1776, instead of the traditional bouquet of flowers. She accepted the diamond but refused to reinstate Orloff to his former powerful position in the Court.

Catherine never wore the Orloff, but had it mounted in the top of the Imperial Scepter, where it remains to this day, in the Kremlin Museum.

Count Orloff because increasing despondant at his fall from grace, and eventually went mad, dying in an asylum in 1783.

The Orloff

  • Weight:189.62
  • Color:Slightly bluish green
  • Clarity:"Exceptionally Pure"
  • Cut: Mugal-Cut rose
  • Source:India

The Russian Orloff diamond was purchased by Prince Orloff from a merchant named Khojeh Raphael. Diamond is not only "a girls best friend" but equally admired by men of all era. Orloff is the worlds third largest cut diamond. It got its name since it was gifted to Catherine II of Russia, by her ex-lover Gregorio Orloff in 1775. The diamond is often known as Scepter diamond.

There is a saying that the 189.62 carats diamond was once studded as one of the eyes of the idol Sheringham. This idol was situated in the temple of Brahma in southern India. The unnamed diamond had changed hands several times and presently is settled in Russia. Prince Orloff on his way back to Russia purchased this amazing Indian stone to gift it to his lover Catherine II as a token of his affection. Catherine II, after naming it, incorporated it in a sceptre known as the "Imperial Sceptre" designed by C.N. Troitinski in 1784.

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