Tuesday, June 23, 2009

History of Damoind


Since the dawn of time, diamonds have had a magical aura about them, and have stood as a symbol of purity and wealth. Natural color diamonds in particular have been, and continue to be, cherished by the rich and the famous.

The first documented case of a cut diamond being worn by a woman dates back to the XVth Century and involves a natural color diamond: Agnès Sorel, the official mistress of Charles VII, wore a pink diamond. Perhaps as a sign of what the future would bring, she was also the first non-noble woman to wear a diamond.

In the XVIIth century Cardinal Jules Mazarin, who served under King Louis XIV, collected diamonds from Catherine the Great. More than anything else, he loved natural color diamonds and had a special affinity for brown diamonds.

Maria Pavlovna, the Grand Duchess of Russia, can be credited for saving the Romanov's great jewelry collection by having them brought to her after her exile to Yalta. Upon her death in 1920, she divided the collection among her four children; her only daughter received the diamonds.

The "hold-up of the century" took place on 3 August 1949 when the Begum and the Aga Khan were stopped by three robbers outside their home in the Côte d'Azur. They had 200 million old French Francs' worth of jewelry stolen from them.

In 1947, Queen Elizabeth II received a 54-carat intense pink diamond for her wedding to the Duke of Edinburgh. This stone was later mounted onto a brooch by Cartier. The Queen remains one of the biggest collectors of natural color diamonds.

In 1958, Farah, the former Empress of Iran, wore the world's most famous tiara for her wedding: 324 brilliants pink, clear and yellow diamonds set around the Noor-al-Ain (Light of the Eye), one of the largest pink diamonds in the world (60 carats).

The Sultan of Brunei is also a great collector of natural color diamonds.

In recent years, natural color diamonds have also found their way into the hearts of the international jet-set who purchase, give and wear them for the most important occasions.

Ben Affleck bought Jennifer Lopez a 6.1-carat pink diamond - estimated value $2.5m;

Kobe Bryant has given his wife an 8-carat fancy purple diamond - estimated at $4m;

David Beckham offered his wife Victoria a 10-carat pink diamond - estimated at $1.8m;

Halle Berry wore a beautiful 5.54-carat pumpkin diamond to the 2004 Oscars;

Maria Menounos wore a $2.5m champagne/brown-diamond dress and shoes to the 2004 Oscars;

Cate Blanchett wore a yellow diamond and emerald brooch to the 2005 Oscars.

Natural color diamonds are considered to embody elegance, wealth, beauty and all that is most precious in the world.

The Portuguese Diamond

The Portuguese

Photo by Chip Clark

This stone was difficult to find information on. There's really only been a couple major owners of the Portuguese.

The Portuguese Diamond at 127.01 carats is the largest faceted diamond in the Nation Gem Collection. It's near flawless clarity and unusual octagonal emerald cut make it one of the world's most magnificent diamond gems. It is perhaps more than a little surprising, then, that so little documented information exists about it's origin and early history. The lack of an authoritative provenance, however, has given rise to considerable conjecture and legend. The diamond owes its current name to one such legend, according to which the diamond was found in Brazil in the eighteenth century and became part of the Portuguese Crown Jewels. There is no documentation, however, that substantiates a Brazilian origin or connection to Portuguese royalty, nor is it clear where or from whom this story originated. As it is discussed below, the diamond most likely was found at the Premier Mine in Kimberly, South Africa, early in the 20th century.

The Portuguese Diamond among other notable diamonds in the Smithsonian's collection:

Interestingly, the extensive media coverage that followed exhibitions of the diamond around the country during 1946-47 made no reference to the diamond by its current name or to a Portuguese or Brazilian connection. Instead other, sometimes conflicting, versions of the history of the diamond were presented. Most accounts indicate that the diamond, which was owned at the time by a syndicate of American diamond dealers, had mysteriously appeared in Amsterdam some years earlier as a rough cut, cushion-shaped stone weighing 187 carats, which was re cut into its present form.

This original cushion shape was not 187 carats, but rather, 150, which has been quoted by several different sources. I'd trust the Smithsonian's word for it, though. If anybody could research it, They also state that diamond dealers all over the world were puzzled by the diamond's lack of history and had tried to trace its origin without success. One article, on the other hand, indicated that the diamond had originally belonged to an Indian potentate who had pawned it in London. During this period when the diamond was exhibited at jewelry stores across the country it was suspended as a pendant from a platinum band set with 380 small diamonds.

One part of the diamond's history that is well-documented is that in February 1928 Peggy Hopkins Joyce acquired the diamond from Black, Starr & Frost. She traded a $350,000 pearl necklace for the diamond and $23,000 in cash. According to New York newspaper accounts, it was mounted on a diamond-studded platinum choker to be worn close around the throat (probably the same necklace described above). The jewelry firm's spokesperson at the time indicated that the diamond was found at the Premier Mine, Kimberly, South Africa, in 1910, and that the firm had obtained it shortly after its discovery. Miss Joyce was dazzling blonde who performed in the Ziegfeld Follies, a true glamour girl of the 1920s. She had six husbands, at least five of whom were men of wealth, and claimed to have been engaged fifty times. She was said to be almost as fond of jewels as of men. Sometime prior to 1946 Miss Joyce placed the diamond on consignment to the group of jewelers mentioned above, in an unsuccessful attempt to sell it.

Harry Winston acquired the Portuguese Diamond from Miss Joyce in 1951, and for the next several years it traveled the country as part of his "Court of Jewels" exhibition. In 1957, Winston sold the diamond to an international industrialist, who then traded it back in 1962. In 1963, the Smithsonian acquired the Portuguese Diamond from Mr. Winston in exchange for 2,400 carats of small diamonds.

The Portuguese Diamond strongly fluoresces blue under ultraviolet light. A soft fluorescence is visible even in daylight or artificial light and gives the stone a slight bluish haze, enough so that it was once advertised as the "largest blue diamond in the world." In fact, if not for the fluorescence, the diamond would appear slightly yellowish.

Portuguese Diamond is a world famous diamond residing in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. There are several legends regarding the origin of the Portuguese Diamond. According to one of these legends, the diamond was found in the early 20th century at the Premiere Mine in Kimberly, South Africa.

There is no mention of the Portuguese Diamond having any Portuguese or Brazilian connections in the historical documents related to it. Instead, in most accounts there is an indication about the diamond being owned by an organization of American diamond dealers. This diamond appeared in Amsterdam quite mysteriously. The stone was of a rough cut and was shaped like a cushion. It weighed around 187 carats.


The Portuguese Diamond is an unusual Octagonal Emerald cut known for its flawlessness and clarity. It weighs 127.01 carats and is regarded as one of the world’s most magnificent diamond gems.


Model shows Portuguese Diamond

The Paragon Diamond

The Paragon

Just what is a Paragon?

A Paragon is a unique phenomenon in the world being a diamond weighing in at 137.82 carats.
A very unusual 7-faced diamond, the Paragon is commonly accepted as the epitome of the finest quality gem in the world.


This very unusual 7-sided diamond is known as the Paragon, and weighs 137.82 carats. The Graff Diamond Co. of London cut the gem, and is its current owner. The necklace has a diamond carat weight of 190.27 carats, and separates to both necklace and bracelet lengths. The piece features Fancy Intense blue, yellow and pink diamonds along with the Paragon Diamond, a 137.82-carat D-color Flawless diamond, evolved unmistakably into Graff's creation for the Millennium.

It gives you a good idea how large the stone is.

The Paragon Diamond, set in a necklace with round brilliants. I don't know if this is the necklace the Paragon is presently set in -- the stone could have been inserted into the photo with a computer to look like its attached to the necklace. I wish I knew which stone that pink diamond in the ring is. Looks around 25 carats or so. The yellow diamond in the bracelet is interesting as well.

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.

Oppenheimer Diamond

History of the Oppenheimer Diamond

The Oppenheimer Diamond, a nearly perfectly-formed 253.7 carat (50.74 g) yellow diamondKimberly, South Africa in 1964.


crystal, is one of the largest uncut diamonds in the world. It measures approximately 20 × 20 millimeters. It was discovered in the Dutoitspan Mine, This almost perfect yellow crystal was found in the Dutoitspan Mine, Kimberly, South Africa in 1964. It was acquired by Harry Winston, who presented it to the Smithsonian Institution in memory of the late Sir Ernest Oppenheimer of DeBeers Consolidated Mines.

Acquired by Henry Winston The OPPENHEIMER

Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Museum

The Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Museum, located in the heart of the Israeli diamond complex in Ramat Gan, serves as a showcase for the diamond industry in Israel, which is currently celebrating its 70th anniversary.

The long established Museum recently reopened its gates after a period of extensive renovation. Diverse aids are utilized to unfold the saga of the diamond and the Israeli Diamond Industry. Rare gems, informative stations, video movies and multimedia combine in an exciting interactive experience which maximizes the beauty and glamour of the most precious mineral in the world, the diamond.

The visitor to the Museum is taken on an exciting virtual journey. He is guided by experts who illuminate the versatile facets of the diamond – how diamonds are created, different mining systems, stages of cutting and polishing, trade and its conduct, characteristics and usage of diamonds in jewelry and industry.

Temporary exhibitions in the Museum will illustrate additional angles of the diamond and provide wonderful tools to depict the culture, mystery and prestige which are interwoven into the world of gems,


The Nizam Diamond

History of Nizam Diamond


History, Past and Present--Suggestive Contrasts--What a Jewel might have Seen--Supposed Value of the Nizam Diamond--Its Shape and Appearance--The Stone is Broken during the Indian Mutiny--Strange Powers Supposed to Belong to the Gem--Possibilities in the History of the Nizam.

There are few great secrets kept from the ken of the modern historian, who writes down the events of the time for the newspaper Press. A precious stone of more than usual importance sees the light to-day, and to-morrow its advent is proclaimed to all the world. Thereafter due chronicles are kept of its travels and adventures. Its comings and goings are noted as matter of universal interest. We may not be informed of the varied intrigues in which it is a factor, but it is on record, it is cataloged in the world's museum of treasures; the "bull's-eye of the Press" has been turned upon it; the opinions of Queens and Emperors in regard to it are registered, as well as the judgment of experts and scientists; in short it belongs to history.


Moons of Mountain Nizam Diamond

A nagging doubt has begun to creep among the heritage enthusiasts. Are our museums in India, safe enough for displaying these priceless treasures?. Insuring this heirlooms is impossible, for even at the proverbial one per cent, the premium would be more than 20 crore or more than what we spent on the National Museum annually. In 1998, a theft worth millions of rupees took place in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the home of the President of India, arguably the most guarded mansion in a museum-which had been set up by the former President R. Venkataraman in the 1980s to display the various fabulous gifts given to the Presidents of India since 1950 and to house the treasures of carpets/dinner services left by the British in 1947. Some thieves had removed centuries-old antiques from the Rashtrapati Bhavan.


Nizam Mir Mahbub Ali Khan

In singular contrast to all this are the hazy accounts which have come down to us concerning the first appearance, and the subsequent vicissitudes of the great gems of old. Created amidst commotions of nature, of an intensity beyond imagination, they have in historic ages often burst upon the knowledge of Europeans in the lesser commotions of human life. War and famine, civil strife, and pestilence have alike contributed to rescue from comparative oblivion some precious stone. It has been eloquently remarked, "A jewel may rest on an English lady's arm that saw Alaric sack Rome, and beheld before-what not? The treasures of the palaces of the Pharaohs and of Darius, or the camp of the Ptolemies, come into Europe on the neck of a vulgar pro-consul's wife, to glitter at every gladiator's butchery in the amphitheatre; then pass in a Gothic ox waggon to an Arab seraglio at Seville; and so back to its native India, to figure in the peacock throne of the Great Mogul; to be bought by an Armenian for a few rupees from an English soldier; and so at last come hither." The romancist or the poet may seek in vain for the inspiration of more startling events than the possible adventures and the known incidents that belong to the history of precious stones and gems.

The King of Golconda possesses a magnificent stone in the rough state. It is known by the name of the Nizam, weighs 340 carats, and is valued at 5,000,000 francs" (pound 200,000). For "the King of Golconda," a title which has long been obsolete, though still flourishing in French literature, we should here read, "the Nizam of Hyderabad." This prince, who is the most powerful semi-independent ruler in the Deccan, is a lineal descendant of the former Mogul Viceroy of Golconda, and in his territory are situated the famous diamond-fields popularly known as the Golconda mines. Of these mines, the Kollur, on the river Kistna, was the most productive, and was especially noted for the unusually large crystals yielded by it. Here was undoubtedly found the Great Mogul, and here also, in all probability, was discovered that stone now known as the Nizam, from the official title of its princely owner.

Little importance can be attached to the statement that this remarkable crystal is valued at pound 200,000; for it is still in the rough state. The necessary process of reduction is well-known to be always attended with more or less risk, so that the most skilled expert would scarcely hazard his reputation by venturing an opinion on the intrinsic character of a rough diamond before it has been manipulated by the cutter and polisher. In the hands of the cutter many unsuspected blemishes are often revealed, which require the diamond to be greatly reduced in size, or even cleaved into several pieces. But the Nizam has a good reputation, and it is probable that it might be advantageously cut without sacrificing more than one half of its present weight. Viz., 340 carats. In that case it would still rank with the very largest gems on record.

King describes it as, "somewhat almond-shaped, almost in its native condition, although it seems to exhibit some traces of an attempt to shape it into the mystic Yoni, probably with the intention of it being placed, as her usual attribute, in the land of Parvati, the goddess of generation. In the cast from it, which I have examined, the ineffectual attempts of the Hindu lapidary to work the obdurate material to his fancy are extremely curious." Then he adds, "This stone was by some very ominous accident broken asunder in the year of the great Indian revolt. Weight 340 carats." But he does not say whether this weight refers to its size before or after its breakage.

Faithful's gives its estimated value at pound 200,000, and it has been stated that its original weight, before being fractured, was no less than 440 carats. If so it was the largest genuine diamond ever discovered except the Great Mogul, and it is remarkable that both of these enormous specimens came apparently from the same rich diamantiferous district of Kollur in the Kistna Valley. It is quite possible that the breaking of the stone, accidental or otherwise, regarded as an omen of trouble, may have had its influence on historical events; for not only uncivilized and Oriental potentates, but Christian kings and learned men have given to precious stones wonderful powers. In mediaeval days carbuncles were credited with an influence on poisons; jasper was believed to cure fevers; agate ministered to defective eye-sight; and carnelian stopped hoemorrhage. Juvenal records of a ring, belonging to Cicero that it endowed him with eloquence; and Edward the Confessor had a ring which was believed to cure epilepsy. It seems, however, to be the especial privilege of the diamond in affairs of love to have an influence only second to that of the fabled Cupid himself. What part the Nizam may have played in the intrigues and passions of Courts and peoples the present historian knoweth not; and as it is his purpose to adhere as far as possible to mere facts, without, however, setting aside tradition, he must leave to the imagination of the reader the possibilities of adventure which are suggested by the blanks that are left, wide and deep, in the history of the Nizam

The Millennium Star

The Millennium Star

the millennium star diamond

De Beers and the Steinmetz Group has unveiled the world's rarest and arguably the most valuable set of diamonds ever put together to mark the year 2000. Stressing that 'millennia come and go, but diamonds are forever,' the diamond giant's Chairman Nicky Oppenheimer presented the De Beers Millennium Star, a D-color, internally and externally flawless pear-shape, cut to perfect proportions, weighing a hefty 203.04 carats. It is the second largest faceted D-Flawless diamond in the world, the 273.15 carat Centenary Diamond is the first.

The Millennium Star is the centerpiece of the company's Limited Edition Millennium Diamonds collection which further consists of 11 highly unusual blue diamonds cut into a variety of shapes, having a total weight of 118 carats. The diamonds were presented to the world with great theater during an impressive ceremony at the top floor of the CSO's Charterhouse Street complex in London: the Millennium Star was lovingly caressed by the latest James Bond girl, French actress Sophie Marceau, under the approving eyes of De Beers top executives and principals of the worldwide Steinmetz Group of Companies - the craftsmen that designed, planned, and manufactured these exceptional and unique stones.

The team of cutters, who labored in polishing the collection for some three years around the clock, was headed by Israeli-born Nir Livnat, managing director of Johannesburg-based Ascot Diamonds, a member of the Steinmetz Group of Diamond Companies. The Steinmetz Group is known as 'the master' in the field of diamonds and is one the leading customers of De Beers. The Steinmetz Group has several sources of independent mines which supply the rough diamonds. Whenever a large sale, auction or event appears in the diamond business, you can be sure that the Stieinmetz Group is part of it. The Steinmetz Group supports Diamond.com as the Jeweler of the Millennium Diamonds.

Though the general press coverage focused understandably on the Millennium Star and actress Sophie Marceau (who played in the James Bond movie aptly called "The World is Not Enough"), the trade is rightfully excited also about the eleven exceptionally rare blue diamonds, which orbit as sparkling blue satellites around the Millennium Star. Steinmetz explains that each one of these stones came from the famous Premier Mine in South Africa. But blue diamonds of this quality and size are extremely rare and to discover one on any year is an incredible accomplishment, let alone discovering the entire collection. In addition to the pear-shaped Millennium Star, the collection consists of 11 beautiful blue diamonds of different shapes and carat weights, ranging in size from 5.16 carats to a phenomenal 27.64 carat heart-shaped stone, the Heart of Eternity. Each of these 11 blue diamonds will be specially inscribed with a De Beers Millennium number, using De Beers' proprietary branding technique. Livnat explains that the Millennium Star will not be branded, as "it is externally flawless. There is not even a single scratch or burn mark on any of the facets. This is extremely exceptional - and a tribute to the cutters' expertise - and De Beers is therefore rightfully presenting the stone as externally flawless." Thus branding is out for the Millennium Star.

It is expected that some 12-million people will visit the De Beers Millennium Jewels Exhibition at the new Millennium Dome in London. There they will remain on view in a specially designed exhibit for the entire year. It is worth it to pause a moment and reflect on the rarity of blue diamonds. Pre-20th century accounts of great blue diamonds reinforce the trade's historical links with India, the only known early source of diamonds. These accounts tell of diamonds such as Tavernier Blue (now known as the Hope Diamond; 45.52 carats) and the 30.82-carat Blue Heart, which today are valued for their history and mystique as much as for their rare color. These diamonds are famous because of their incredible rarity - only red diamonds are rarer - and the De Beers collection of blues is something that will never be seen again.

In modern times, De Beers Premier mine in South Africa has become the only important source of blue diamonds, yet they make up much less than 0.1 percent of all diamonds recovered at this mine. Of all De Beers South African rough production, however, there is on average only one significant blue diamond mined per year. The best blue diamonds have a beauty that is not comparable to that of any other gem. These are greatly admired and eagerly sought after by collectors and connoisseurs. Of the ten highest per-carat prices paid for colored diamonds at auction, six have been blue diamonds. Some of these unique stones were sold for $550,000-$580,000 per carat. One 20 carat blue stone fetched well in excess of $10 million. "Fancy blue diamonds contain impurities of boron, which result in their blue color. Usually the blue of a diamond is strongly modified by gray or black. Few stones have intense, saturate color," explains Livnat, stressing that "the blue color is often not evenly spread throughout the stone and that, occasionally, parts of a blue stone may be totally white. To get a beautiful pure blue stone is truly a professional challenge."

Natural blue diamonds are much weaker in saturation than the blue objects they are compared to. Blue colors are not overly abundant in nature, although they do occur in certain flowers, fruits, birds, and gemstones. Actual diamond blues, however, are more likely to mimic the blue colors of indigo, ink and steel. Whatever term is used to describe blue diamonds, it is their combination of color, brilliance and rarity that makes them so special. The rough diamond was found by an alluvial digger in the early nineties. It originated in what was then known as Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and was purchased there many years ago by a De Beers buyer on the open market. The stone has been held in deliberate anticipation of this moment, though its polishing took more than three years. Its beauty has now been released by the extraordinary skill of the expert craftsmen, and international team (South African, Israeli, Belgian & American). The cutters received the ultimate compliment when former De Beers Chairman, the late Harry Oppenheimer, undoubtedly the doyen of the diamond industry and who has probably handled more important diamonds in his 70-year career than any other person in the world, described the Millennium Star as "the most beautiful diamond I have ever seen."

Actress Sophie Marceau holding the Millennium Star.
Originally, the rough stone was 777 carats, a magic number. Found in the Buyimai district, the discovery set off a gold-rush type of influx of diggers hoping to find a similar stone. But, as it was the only stone of this type found in the present millennium, statistically the odds are against finding another one within the next few hundred years

The Koh-i-Noor Diamond

The World Famous Koh-i-Noor Diamond

The famous Koh-i-noor diamond

The world famous Koh-i-noor diamond accentuates the grandeur of the crown of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The platinum crown includes other precious gems, and when the Queen Mother died in 2002 the crown was removed from the Tower of London and paraded through London streets. The Koh-i-noor's earliest mention occurs in Sanskrit writings.

Do you know the curse of the Koh-i-noor diamond ?

The Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of Light) is a 109 carat diamond that was once the largest known diamond in the world. Some say that the Koh-i-noor was originally found more than 5000 years ago, and is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit writings. Historical evidence suggests that the Kohinoor originated in Golconda kingdom, in Hyderabad state of Andhra Pradesh, India one of the world’s earliest diamond producing regions.

At that time it was said to weigh 793 carats, but through some incredibly ham-fisted cutting and polishing by a jeweller named Borgio it was reduced to 186 carats. This further reduced it from 186 carats to its present size of just less than 109 carats.

Koh-i-Noor the Name

It was the Persian King Nadir Shah who gave the stone its name, which means “Mountain of Light”. Nadir Shah seized this prized possession of the Moghuls when he overran Delhi in 1739. The earlier name of this diamond was Samantik Mani meaning “Prince among diamonds”.


Koh-i-Noor diamond is the largest stone in the crown worn by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

To The British

The most coveted diamond in history, Koh-i-noor passed through the hands of various Indian and Persian rulers who fought bitterly over it from the 14th century onwards.

The British colonial officials found the Koh-i-noor in 1849, in the treasury of the Punjabi capital, Lahore, India. It was later seized by the British as a spoil of war and it became part of the British crown jewels when Queen Victoria became the ‘Empress of India’ in 1877. The Queen Mother’s crown with the Kohinoor is currently preserved in the Tower of London.

The Curse of the Koh-i-noor

It is believed that the Kohinoor carries with it a curse and only when in the possession of a woman will the curse not work. All the men who owned it have either lost their throne or had other misfortunes befall them. The British are wary of this curse and so far, only Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth have adorned the gem as sovereigns. Since Queen Victoria the diamond has always gone to the wife of the male heir to the throne.

Koh-i-noor, a Mountain of Light

The anniversary of Koh-i-noor.

There was a period when Indian diamonds were very famous the world over. These included the Koh-i-noor, Orlov, the Great Moghul, Darya-i-noor, Indore pears, Shah and Arcots. These were all part of the treasure houses of the great emperors of India. Today, they are all in the hands of outsiders.

The legendary Koh-i-noor has been in the eye of the storm ever since it left the hands of its original owners - a diamond which was never bought or sold, but changed many hands. Koh-i-noor has left a trail that speaks of greed, power, murder, mayhem and unhappiness.

According to all references, Koh-i-noor was never that great to look at in its early days. It was just another diamond that was dull, non-sparkling and a little yellow in appearance.

Many legends say that the Koh-i-noor was mined in India, and at least 4,000 years old. It received a mention in the 1300s, when it was named in the Baburnama. One account states that Babur got his hands on the diamond in Gujarat; another says he got it in the Deccan. But when Babur came to Agra in May 1526, the ruler Vikramaditya most likely gave him the great diamond. There is also evidence that his son Humayun carried a large diamond that his father had handed back to him at Agra and was known as Babur’s diamond for the next 200 years.

There are still so many unresolved questions surrounding the precious stone. Many believe that the Koh-i-noor was also the Great Mogul and that Babur's diamond was separate; others say the Koh-i-noor and Babur’s diamond were one and same, while the rest identified it with both Babur's diamond and the Great Mogul. Information gathered over the years shows that in fact, three diamonds existed: - the Great Mogul – was the Orlov, weighing 189.62 metric carats, in Kremlin; and Babur's diamond – was the Darya-i-noor, weight 175 gm and 195 metric carats, the Iranian Crown Jewels; and the Koh-i-noor re-cut, Crown Jewels, England.

When the peacock throne was handed over to Nadir Shah, the hiding place of this diamond was given away. A member of Mohammad Shah’s harem gave away the hiding place of Koh-i-noor. It is said that the Shah kept it hidden in his turban. So, Nadir Shah devised a plan - he ordered a grand feast to coincide with the restoration of Mohammed Shah to his throne. During the feast Nadir Shah suddenly proposed an exchange of turbans, a sign of brotherly ties and eternal friendship. Mohammed Shah was hardly likely to resist. After the exchange, Nadir Shah entered his private apartment only at night, where he unfolded the turban and found the diamond concealed within. When he set his eyes on it, he exclaimed "Koh-i-noor", meaning "Mountain of Light".

The next sixty years of its history are the most violent and bloodstained. The final owner was Maharaja Duleep Singh, son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in the backdrop of the two Sikh Wars leading to the annexation of the Punjab by the British. The hoisting of British flag was on March 29th, 1849 Lahore where Punjab was formally proclaimed a part of the British Empire in India. One of the terms of the Treaty of Lahore was:- "The gem called the Koh-i-noor which was taken from Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk by Maharajah Ranjit Singh shall be surrendered by the Maharajah of Lahore to the Queen of England."

Dr Sir John Login was entrusted with two charges: to take the Koh-i-noor out of the Toshakhana (the jewel house), and also the guardsmanship of the young Duleep Singh. It was formally handed over to the Punjab government of Sir Henry Lawrence (1806-1857), his younger brother John Lawrence (afterwards Lord Lawrence, the man who in February of 1859 would break ground on the future Lahore railroad station), and C.C. Mausel.

The Koh-i-noor sailed from Bombay in H.M.S. Medea. It was put in an iron box and kept in a dispatch box and deposited in the Government Treasury. For security reasons, this piece of news was suppressed, even among officers of the Treasury - and withheld from Commander Lockyer, the ship's captain. HMS Medea's voyage turned out to be a perilous one - cholera broke out on board in Mauritius and the local people demanded its departure. They asked their governor to open fire and destroy the vessel if it did not respond. After leaving Mauritius, a severe gale hit the vessel that lasted for about twelve hours. They reached Plymouth, England, where the passengers and the mail were unloaded, but not the Koh-i-noor, which was forwarded to Portsmouth.

From there, the two officers took the diamond to the East India House, handing it over to the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the company.

The stone
Prince Albert (Prince Consort) and Sebastian Garrard stated that the Koh-i-noor was badly cut, it is rose-not-brilliant-cut. It was decided to seek the advice of practical and experienced diamond cutters. A small steam engine was set up at Garrard's shop, while two gentlemen, Messrs Coster, Mr. Voorzanger and Mr. Fedder, travelled to London to undertake the re-cutting of the diamond. The Koh-i-noor was embedded in lead, two weeks later, after examining the stone. Mitchell thought that it had lost nearly all its yellow colour and become much whiter. The re-cutting took 38 days and cost £8000 ($40,000). The final result was an oval brilliant diamond weighing 108.93 metric carats, which meant a loss of weight of just under 43 per cent. Its was now in stellar brilliant-cut, possessing the regular 33 facets, including the table, while the pavilion has eight more facets than the regular 25 bringing the total number of facets to 66.

In 1853, it was mounted on a magnificent tiara for the Queen, which contained more than two thousand diamonds. Five years later, Queen Victoria ordered a new regal circlet for the diamond. In 1911, Garrards made a new crown that Queen Mary wore for the coronation - it contained diamonds, among them the Koh-i-noor. In 1937, this was transferred to the crown made for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, based on Queen Victoria's regal circlet and is set in a Maltese Cross at the front of the crown.

The controversy
The 20th century saw a war of words over Koh-i-noor and its rightful ownership. In 1947, the government of India asked for the return of the diamond. Also, the Congress Ministry which ruled Orissa staked claim to the stone, saying it belonged to the Lord Jagannath. Ranjit Singh's treasurer mentioned that it was the property of their estate. Pakistan's claim to the diamond was disputed by India. Shortly thereafter, a major newspaper in Teheran stated that the gem should to be returned to Iran.

Sir Olaf has pointed out that the Koh-i-noor had been in Mogul possession in Delhi for 213 years, in Afghan possession in Kandahar and Kabul for 66 years and in British possession for 127 years. Historically, it maybe difficult to pass judgement on the validity of the various claims, but on the other hand, from a gemological aspect, as a paper report said, the Indian claim is the most valid because it was in that country that it was mined.

The legend
Legend goes that Sun God gave this gem to his disciple Satrajit, but his younger brother Persain snatched it from him. A lion in the forest killed Persain and Jamavant took this gem from the body of Persain and delivered it to Lord Krishna, who restored it to Satrajit. Later, this jewel again came back into the hands of Lord Krishna as dowry when Satrajit gave the hand of his daughter Satyabhama in marriage to him. Lord Krishna gave it back to the Sun God .The Koh-i-noor came into the hands of numerous rulers till it was possessed by Porus, the king of Punjab, who retained the diamond after a peace treaty in 325 BC when Alexander left India.

Chandragupta Maurya (325-297 B.C.) became the next possessor and passed it on to his grandson Ashoka who ruled from 273-233 B.C. Later it slipped into the hands of Raja Samprati of Ujjain (Ashoka’s grandson). This jewel remained in the custody of Ujjain and the Parmar dynasty of Malwa. When Ala-ud-din Khilji (1296-1316A.D.) defeated Rai Ladhar Deo, the ruler of Malwa in 1306 AD, he acquired the diamond. From this stage up to the time of Mughal Emperor Babur, the history of this precious stone is lost once more. Koh-i-noor comes to light again in year 1526.

Humayun is said to have given the stone to the Shah of Persia for giving him refuge after he lost to Sher Shah. From 1544 to 1547, the Koh-i-noor remained in the possession of Shah Tehmasp of Iran. The Shah sent the Koh-i-noor along with other precious gifts to Burhan Nizam Shah of Ahmednagar (Deccan) for the rulers of the Deccan - Ahmednagar, Golkunda and Bijapur regarded the King of Persia as their religious head. This stone remained in the possession of the Nizam Shahi dynasty of Ahmednagar and the Qutb Shah dynasty of Golkunda in the Deccan for a period of 109 years. How it came back to the Mughals is another gap in history.

After Aurangzeb, this diamond remained consigned into the coffers of the Mughal treasury from 1707 to 1739 A.D. Muhammad Shah Rangila (1719-1748) used to carry this wonder diamond with him in his turban. Nadir Shah got hold of Koh-i-noor when he ransacked Delhi in the 1700s and it went to his successors, landing in the hands of the Afghan ruler Shah Shuja who handed it to Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1813.

The Koh-i-Noor left the shores of India on April 6, 1850, and on reaching London on July 2, 1850, it was handed over to the Board of Directors of the East India Company. Sir J.W. Logg, the Deputy Chairman of the East India Company, presented it to Queen Victoria. The queen recorded in her journal: "The jewels are truly magnificent. They had also belonged to Ranjit Singh and had been found in the treasury of Lahore.... I am very happy that the British Crown will possess these jewels for I shall certainly make them Crown Jewels".

Many still await the many treasures which were “stolen” by the British Raj, and no one knows how long the wait will be. But today, if you happen to visit London, please make a stopover at Tower of London and look at the Crown Jewels for the Queen and the Koh-i-noor placed in her crown up front inside a Maltese cross.

The Kimberley Diamond

Kimberley Diamond Mine. From a sketch by Mr.Dennis Edwards, published by Saul Solomon, Cape Town, 1886.
Kimberley Diamond Mine.Cape Town, 1886

History of Kimberley diamond

In 1866, Erasmus Jacobs found a small white pebble on the banks of the Orange River, on the farm De Kalk leased from local Griquas, near Hopetown. The pebble turned out to be a 21.25 carat (4.25 g) diamond. In 1871, an even larger 83.50 carat (16.7 g) diamond was found on the slopes of Colesberg Kopje, and led to the first diamond rush into the area. As miners arrived in their thousands, the hill disappeared, and became known as the Big Hole. A town, New Rush, was formed in the area, and was renamed to Kimberley on 5 June 1873, after the British Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time, John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley. The British, who had control of much of South Africa, were prompt to annex the area of the diamond mine, which became the British colony of Griqualand West. The Boers were upset by this, because they wanted it to be a part of the Orange Free State as it lay between Orange and Vaal rivers.

The largest company to operate a diamond mine in South Africa was the De Beers Company, owned by Cecil Rhodes. Very quickly, Kimberley became the largest city in the area, mostly due to a massive African migration to the area from all over the continent. The immigrants were accepted with open arms, because the De Beers company was in search of cheap labour to run the mines with.

Kimberley Diamond

Originally a 490-carat rough, this champagne colored stone named after the Kimberley Mine in South Africa, was cut to 70 carats in 1921, and to its current emerald shape in 1958. The Kimberley was widely exhibited until it was sold to an undisclosed collector from Texas in 1971.

The Kimberley Diamond

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