Diamonds have always fascinated humans across the world. They carry with them the brilliance of light and clarity, but also have a dark underside that most people do not know about. As with any form of wealth, diamonds carry with them the danger of being stolen. And indeed some of the most famous ones have a long and bloody history. Sounds thrilling, doesn’t it? We present below the world’s five most famous diamonds and a bit of their story and current locations, should you choose to visit any of them. Enjoy!
5 Koh-I-Noor : Mountain of Light
Carats: 105.60 :: Origin: India
Koh-I-Noor is Persian for “The Mountain of Light”. It has a history that goes back as far as 1304. The kings of then Malwa in India had captured the diamond in the sixteenth century from Babar, the famous Mughal Sultan. It later remained in the possession of Mughal emperors and is believed to have been set in the famous Peacock Throne that was prepared for Shah Jehan, who made the Taj Mahal. After the break-up of the Persian Empire, this diamond reached India again, from where it originally was mined by the Golconda Empire. It is thought to have travelled to Afghanistan as well, with a bodyguard of Nadir Shah, who escaped with the stone when Shah was murdered. Later on, he offered it to Ranjit Singh of Punjab to request military help. Later in history, the diamond was snatched by the East India Company as a partial indemnity during the battles between the British and the Sikhs. Queen Victoria was presented the diamond in 1850. The stone was originally said to weigh nearly 1,986 carats in its original size, when taken from India. However, it was then recut to about 108.93 carats, upon which the Queen first wore it in a brooch. Later, it was set in the State Crown, which wasworn by Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, and in 1937 was worn by Queen Elizabeth for her coronation. At the moment, the diamond can be seen in the Tower of London, sitting along with other Crown Jewels.
4 The Regent – Stone of theft that was kept
Carats: 140.50 (410 carats original uncut) :: Origin: India
Alexander Pope wrote about the Regent diamond in his famous work “Moral Essays” as follows:
“Asleep and naked as an Indian lay
An honest factor stole a gem away;
He pledged it to the Knight, the Knight had wit,
So kept the diamond, and the rogue was bit.”
In 1698 in India, Thomas Pitt, the Governor of Madras is said to have acquired it by killing a slave who had originally found the diamond. It was then sent to England for cutting. The diamond was sold in 1717 to the French, who first fixed it on the band of Louis XV’s silver gilt crown in 1722 for his coronation. Then it was placed in Louis XVI’s crown in 1775. From there, the diamond was moved to the hilt of the First Consul’s sword in 1801, and then in 1812 onto his two-edged sword. In 1825, Charles X wore it on the crown of his coronation. Currently, the Regent is placed at the Louvre museum in Paris, where it can be visited.
3 The Centenary Diamond – An X-Ray find
Carats: 273.85 :: Origin: South Africa
The Centenary diamond was discovered in the Premier Mine in South Africa in July of 1986. It was found using an X-Ray system. Originally believed to have weighed about 599.10 carats, Master cutter Gabi Tolkowsky and his select team took nearly three years to make it the largest, most modern-cut, and excellent-colour diamond that there is. It is known to have 247 facets with 164 of them being on the stone and 83 over its girdle. It was loaned in May 1991 to the British for display at the Tower of London. It is rumoured to have been sold in 2008 to an anonymous business owner in the United states by DeBeers. Further details are not known at this point.
2 The Orloff – Plucked out from Vishnu’s eye
Carats: 300 :: Origin: India
This beautiful diamond was originally found in India. It is bluish green in appearance and very pure in terms of clarity. It is a Mughal-cut rose shaped diamond. It is believed that the Orloff was first set as the eye of a Hindu god Vishnu’s idol, located in the innermost sanctuary of a temple in Srirangam. However, a Frenchman stole it in the 1700s and took it to Madras where he sold it for 2,000 pounds to an English sea-captain. As time passed on and the diamond changed hands, it arrived at Amsterdam where the Russian Count, Grigori Orloff was residing. He was once the lover of Empress Catherine the Great. It is said that he purchased the stone for 90,000 pounds as a gift for Catherine. Ever since, the stone has been named the Orloff. Catherine then mounted the stone in the Imperial Sceptre. After Orloff’s death, the diamond was hidden in a priest’s tomb by the Russians in 1812 when they feared that Napolean would enter Moscow. It is rumoured that Napoleon found the Orloff and was just about to claim it, when the priest’s ghost appeared and cursed his army. This made Napoleon turn away without the Orloff. If you want to visit this stone with all its history, you have to travel to Moscow, where it is currently placed in the Diamond Treasury of Russia.
1The Great Star of Africa – Largest diamond in the world
Carats: 530.20 :: Origin: South Africa
Also known as the Cullinan I and Star Africa, this is the largest cut diamond on the planet. It is pear shaped and has 74 facets. It was actually cut from the largest diamond crystal that was ever found – the 3,106.75 carats Cullinan crystal. It was discovered in Transvaal, South Africa in 1905 during an inspection tour of the Premier Mine. It took six months of examination to understand how it had to be divided. Eventually, it yielded about nine major and 96 smaller brilliant cut stones. It is set in the Royal Sceptre that is currently placed with the other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London, where it can be visited.