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THE KOHINOOR DIAMOND


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The Kohinoor Diamond

 

According to some sources, the Koh-i-noor diamond was found in the Godavari river in central India 4,000 years ago. Tradition associated with it states that its owner will rule the world, but that to possess it is dangerous for any but a woman. This may have been a delicate piece of flattery to Queen Victoria, who once owned the gem.

The authentic history of this jewel begins in the 14 c. when it was reported to be in the possession of the rajas of Malwa. It later fell into the hands of Baber, who founded the Mogul dynasty in 1526. During the next two centuries the diamond was one of the most prized items in the treasure of the Mogul emperors.

 

In 1939, Nadir Shah of Persia invaded India and all of the treasures of the Moguls fell into his hands except the great diamond. Nadir Shah was told by one of the emperor's harem women that the stone was hidden in the emperor's turban. The conqueror then invited the conquered to a feast and offered to exchange turbans as a gesture of friendship. The emperor had no choice but to agree. Later, in the privacy of his tent, Nadir Shah unrolled the turban, the gem fell out, and Nadir is supposed to have exclaimed "Koh-i-noor", mountain of light.

 

The stone continued in the possession of the Persian dynasty, although many attempts were made to gain ownership of it. The Persian king was assassinated, and his son Shah Rukh, was deposed. In an effort to discover the whereabouts of the diamond Shah Rukh´s eyes were put out, and boiling pitch was poured on his head, but he refused steadfastly to reveal its hiding place. Later, a Persian king fled with it to the Sikh court, and Ranjit Singh, the Lion of the Punjab, took the stone and wore it as a decoration. It was later placed in the Lahore treasury. After the Sikh wars, it was taken by the East India Company as part of the indemnity levied in 1849, and was subsequently presented to Queen Victoria at a sparkling levee marking the company's 250th anniversary.

 

 

Weight: 108.93 carats

Cut: round brilliant cut diamond

 

The jewel was displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851 where it was thought to display insufficient fire. It was decided to recut it from its original Indian form, and a member of the Amsterdam firm of Costar was called to London to cut the stone. A steam-driven cutting wheel was set up, and Prince Albert se the stone on the wheel, while the Duke of Wellington started it. The cutting took 38 days, but did not add much to the stone's brilliance. It was rather believed that the historical value of the diamond was diminished by the cutting. Queen Victoria continued to wear it as an ornament, then left it to Queen Alexandra, who wore it at Edward VII´s coronation. In 1911, the jewel was used in a crown made for Queen Mary, and in 1937, in another made to be worn by Queen Elizabeth at the coronation of her husband, King George VI in 1937. The Queen Mother's crown with the Koh-i-noor is in the Tower of London.

 

 

 

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