Golconda’s ‘Glittering’ Past
Lying on the important trade route between the port town of Masulipatam and hinterland, Golconda rose to prominence in the international market for its diamonds. Golconda came to be known for its great wealth during the Renaissance and is still spoken with reverence among the deep pocketed, purist, diamond traders and collectors.
According to Rahul Kadakia, head of Christie’s jewellery department, the historic diamond mines of Golconda are the ‘beginning of diamonds’. South African diamond mines were only discovered in the 19th century, until which point the Golconda mines were the only source of diamonds for nearly 2000 years.
Here are some of the world’s most well known diamonds whose origin is traced back to Golconda:
Darya-1 Nur: One of the world’s largest and finest diamond is Darya-1 Nur or ‘sea of light’. It is a rare pale-pink, tablet shaped, 185 carats weighing stone, currently in the Iranian Crown Jewels of Central Bank of Iran. Experts speculate that this diamond was a portion from the Great Table diamond. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a French gem trader and traveller, made a note of this diamond during his time in Golconda in 1642.
Hope Diamond: This deep-blue coloured, 45.5 carat diamond has travelled from the Golconda mines in India to France and Britain and is now in the National Gem and Mineral collection at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C, USA. It is popularly referred as the Le Bijou du Roi (the King’s Jewel), Le bleu de France (the Blue of France).
Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of light): According to many sources the origin of Koh-i-Noor is traced back to Golconda mines during the reign of the Kakatiya dynasty. The world most famous, colorless, diamond has changed hands several times and is presently under the ownership of the British.
Regent Diamond: Currently owned by the French state, the inception of this 410 carat diamond is traced back to Golconda. The diamond was initially part of the crown jewel of France and later even used as pommel for Napoleon’s sword. The diamond was also used for the crown of Louis XVIII, Charles X and Napoleon III. Today it is mounted in a Greek diadem and is on display in the Louvre.
Der Blaue Wittelsbacher or Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond: The original Wittelsback Diamond is a 35.56-carat (7.112 g), deep, greyish-blue diamond, which was initially purchased by Philip IV of Spain in 1664. It has since been a part of the Austrian and Bavarian Crown jewels and then became part of aLondon-based jeweller Laurence Graff. It is now owned by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Chalifa Al Thani.
Idols’s Eye: Possessing a slight bluish tinge, a characteristic of many diamonds from Golconda, Idol’s Eye is another well known diamond. In the 1800s this diamond was owned by Abdul Hamid II, the ruler of the Ottoman Empire. The diamond was stolen and brought to Paris, where it rose into limelight during an auction. Bought by a Spanish nobleman the diamond was taken to London for safe keeping. The diamond only re-emerged after the World War II and passed through the ownership of many wealthy individuals. Currently the whereabout of the diamond is unknown.
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