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The Sancy Diamond

wikimediasancySancy diamond (illustration from the Swedish encyclopedia Nordisk familjebok)

( Illustration of the Sancy diamond  from the Swedish encyclopedia Nordisk familjebok; image courtesy of Wikimedia.)

Discovered in the Kollur mines of the Guntur district, South India around the 1400s, the Sancy diamond is a pale yellow stone weighing 55.23 carats (11.046 g). It is in the shape of a shield and has an unusual cut wherein it has two crowns in place of the usual crown (the upper portion) and pavilion (the lower portion).


(The Sancy diamond, image courtesy of Museum Diamonds)

Nicolas de Harlay, seigneur de Sancy was a French diplomat who got a hold of the diamond when the claimant to the Portuguese throne, António, Prior of Crato sold it to him. Henry III of France is said to have borrowed the jewel from Sancy to adorn his cap. It is said that Sancy eventually sold it to James I who succeeded Queen Elizabeth in the 1600s which is when, it is believed, the jewel was christened the Sancy Diamond.

Regent - Sancy - Hortensia boardhost.com

(Clockwise: The Regent diamond, The Sancy diamond and the Hortensia diamond on display at the Louvre; image courtesy of Board Host)

The diamond kept disappearing and resurfacing time and again between the 1600s and the 1900s. It disappeared alongside the Regent Diamond and the Hope Diamond during the French Revolution. It disappeared once more after it was sold to Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, an Indian prince, from the Demidov family collection in the 1800s. It made reared its head at the Paris Exposition in 1867 only to vanish again. A prominent family by the name Astor possessed it for 72 years after which it was sold for $1 million to the Louvre; which is where it rests to this day.


The Orlov Diamond

wikimediaSketch of the Orlov Diamond from the book Precious Stones by Max Bauer, published in 1904.

( Sketch of the Orlov Diamond from the book Precious Stones by Max Bauer, published in 1904; image courtesy of Wikimedia.)

This diamond was found in the Kollur mines during the early 1700s. History suggests that it passed through many hands before it reached Amsterdam where it was bought by Count Grigory Grigorievich Orlov, a man favoured immensely by Empress Catherine of Russia. It is said that he gave the diamond to her as a gift in an effort to win her back after their separation.


(The Imperial Sceptre that was designed to hold the Orlov diamond; image courtesy of The Enchantd Manor.)

The Orlov Diamond was named after the Count by the Empress and she had her jeweller design a sceptre especially to hold the diamond. The Imperial Sceptre now holds the diamond that is said to weigh 189.62 carats (37.924 g). The Orlov is white with a greenish-blue tinge and has what is known as an Indian rose-style cut but it also known for its unusual shape which is like that of half an egg.

This precious stone is now housed by the Diamond Fund of the Moscow Kremlin as a part of their collection.


The Great Mughal Diamond

Grand_Mogol_d'apres_TavernierDrawing of the Great Moghul diamond, by Tavernier in 1676

( Drawing of the Great Moghul diamond, by Tavernier in 1676; image courtesy of Wikimedia.)

1650 is the year that is believed to be the one in which the Great Mughal Diamond was discovered in the Kollur mines of Andhra Pradesh. History suggests that the diamond in the rough weighed close to 700 carats and was gifted to Shah Jahan. A Venetian gem-cutter was hired who ground away at the diamond to rid it of its flaws but he ended up reducing the size and weight of the jewel to a great extent.


(Miniature painting of Emperor Shah Jahan; image courtesy of Publish Your Articles.)

Famed traveller and jeweller Jean Baptiste Tavernier makes mention of the diamond in his book Six Voyages, describing it as rose cut stone, round and very high on one side with a slight crack on the lower edge and a small flaw.


( A replica of the Great Mughal Diamond; image courtesy of Wikimedia.)

It is said that the diamond disappeared when Nader Shah invaded India. Speculations are that it was cut and divided into smaller stones; rumours linking it to the Koh-i-noor, Darya-i-noor and most popular of all these speculations is that the Orlov Diamond is the Great Mughal Diamond in disguise and under a new name because it shares the same cut and colour. Its whereabouts remain unknown to this day.