The Kohinoor has a complex history that goes back to the 13th century. A large colorless diamond that weighed around 793 carats, Kohinoor originated in India’s Golconda mines when they were under the rule of the Kakatiya dynasty.
Diamonds were mined from the region in and around Golconda, then cut and traded from there. The fortress city of Golconda was the market city for diamond trade and gems sold there came to be called Golcondas.
Golconda became synonymous with diamonds for Europe.
By the 1880s, the Golconda diamonds had gained so much popularity for their size, weight, and quality that they became a coveted brand of diamonds.
The word ‘Golconda’ became synonymous with the best quality diamonds. Soon, Golconda became a generic term to denote a rich mine or source of immense wealth too. The Golcondas also earned immense wealth for India.
The legacy begins before Europe knew about it.
All the ancient lores of India – Veda, Purana, the epics, other legends, and folklore – speak of diamonds, its characteristics, and stories around them. In contrast, Europe learned of diamonds and its value only in the late 1600s just over 300 years ago.
One of the earliest evidence of the importance given to diamonds and their mining in India can be gathered from the
Arthashastra, a treatise on governance, administration, law, politics, strategy, and defense. The Arthashastra was authored by one of India’s renowned statesmen of the 4th century BCE, popularly known as Kautilya and Chanakya.
Diamonds find a specific mention among this list as a precious commodity for trade, treasury, savings, and adornment in the 4th century BCE itself.
The Arthashastra was produced around 336 BCE, the same time when Alexander, the Macedonians had invaded and retreated from the North-Western parts of India. This work is at the same time so detailed as within India as well as outside.
This diamond in her long history has traveled all over the world and been possessed by many rulers. She is known to have traveled back and forth within India and between India, Persia, Afghanistan – changing hands from one ruler to another.
Some of the well-known kings to have held her include, the Kakatiyas,
Raja Vikramaditya of Gwalior
the early Mughals, Babur and Humayun
the Shah of Iran, Shah Tehmasp
the Nizam Shah and Qutub Shah dynasties of Ahmednagar and Golconda
the later Mughals from Shah Jahan onwards up to Muhammad Shah Rangila,
Nadir Shah of Persia, who gave her the Persian name Kohinoor meaning “Mountain of Light”
the Afghan General Ahmad Shah Abdali (Durrani) and from thereon to his successors up to Shah Shuja
the Sher-e-Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and from thereon to his successors up to Maharaja Duleep Singh.
However, in all this journey, Kohinoor was never bought or sold but changed hands only due to inheritance or as a token of gift or due to extortion, looting, trickery, and treachery.
In fact, it was only after reaching Persia, that she acquired the name Kohinoor.
The diamond, which originally weighed 186 carats was cut down to 108 carats by the Queen and set in her crown. Since then, the Kohinoor continues to stay in the possession of the British Royalty locked away in the Tower of London.
Even though Kohinoor has been with the British crown, she is still referred to as the ‘Star of India.’ Living up to her name, this ‘mountain of light’ illuminates a glorious history of the diamond trade in India. The trail might have ended, yet the story of the Kohinoor diamond remains intriguing.
This made the Golconda diamonds, the purest diamonds of the world. Due to this purity, unlike Type 1 diamonds, they allowed ultraviolet rays and visible light to pass through them and this gave them a clear, transparent nature.
They were so clear and transparent that they looked like ice cubes. They gave an effect of water running through the gem.
They were large in size too. They were weighed in units of rati where one rati was 7/8th of a carat. One of the stones from this region, the Great Mogul, is recorded to have weighed the equivalent of 787 carats.
The Supreme Court dismissed a plea seeking direction to the Union government for bringing back Kohinoor diamond.
It had also said Kohinoor was gifted as “compensation” in the 19th century by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to the British for the help rendered by them in the Anglo-Sikh war.
Earlier the government told the apex court that 105.6-carat diamond was neither stolen nor forcibly taken away by the British.
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