(Clockwise: The Koh-i-noor diamond, The crown of the British monarch, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II, images courtesy of Pinterest and Getty Images.)
The Koh-i-noor Diamond; Persian for Mountain of Light, was discovered in the 13th century in the Kollur mines of the Guntur District. It is an oval-cut brilliant, colourless diamond presently weighing 105.602 carats (21.1204 g) that is infamous for its long and bloodied history. It has passed through many royal hands, the likes of which are Alauddin Khalji, Babur, Humayun, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb, Nader Shah, Shah Shujah Durrani, and Maharaja Ranjit Singh upon whose death the diamond was surrendered to Queen Victoria (the reigning Queen of England at the time) and it is now set in the Crown of the Monarch of the United Kingdom and a few Commonwealth realms; Queen Elizabeth II.
(Clockwise: Socialite Evalyn Walsh, the diamond being exhibited, the Hope Diamond in the original setting and the diamond in the new setting designed by Harry Winston. Images courtesy of Pinterest)
The Hope Diamond is an antique cushion cut blue diamond, now weighing 45.52 carats (9.104 g) that was originally discovered in the Kollur mines in the 17th century. It made its way into the hands of French Gem Merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier as the Tavernier Blue after which it was cut and sold to King Louis XIV. Years later it showed up in the collection of banker Thomas Hope which is where it got its name; Hope Diamond. The diamond was sold to socialite Evalyn Walsh whom the diamond has adorned on numerous occasions. Harry Winston was the last to be in possession of it before he handed it over to the Smithsonian.
(Clockwise: The Regent Diamond, Napoleon, the Regent Diamond on the hilt of Napoleon’s sword, Marie Antoinette, Empress Eugenie and the Regent on display at the Apollon at the Louvre Museum. Images courtesy of Pinterest, Art Net, Interest Planet and Obsidian Wings.)
The Regent Diamond now weighs 141 carats (28.2 g) and is a cushion cut brilliant, also known as the Pitt diamond and it has quite a chequered past, as do most gems of high value; especially diamonds. It was discovered by a slave in the Paritala mines of the Krishna district during the 1700s. The slave stole the diamond and found a sea captain with whom he struck a deal for safe passage but greed blinded the captain who murdered the slave and sold the diamond to an Indian merchant after which he took his own life. The diamond was sold to Governor Thomas Pitt of Ft. George; that is where it got its name – the Pitt Diamond. More than a decade later it was sold to the Regent of France which is when it was renamed the Regent Diamond. It passed through the hands of Marie Antoinette (on her velvet hat), Napoleon (the hilt of his sword) and Empress Eugenie (studded on her diadem) until it found its way back onto French soil and was put on display at the Apollon Gallery of the Louvre Museum where it is housed to this day.
More about famous Golconda diamonds in the next post!