Name: Kohinoor (Koh-I-Noor) Diamond
AKA: Mountain of Light, the Diamond of Babur
Price Estimation: Over $1 billion
Size: 21.6 grams
Color: Finest White
Originally Belonged To: The South Indian Kakatiya Dynasty
Weighing in at an astonishing 105.6 carats, the Kohinoor diamond is variously described as colorless or finest white. Believed to have been mined either in India’s Kollur Mine or one of the mines of Golkonda sometime during the 1300s, this amazing diamond was an incredible 793 carats before its first cutting. While in the hands of the Kakatiya Dynasty, the diamond weighed in at 186 carats. England’s Consort Prince Albert had it cut down to its present size in order to increase its brilliance.
These are just a few basic facts about the famous Kohinoor diamond. For more on its value plus the intriguing tale of the Kohinoor curse, read on.
Some say the legendary Kohinoor diamond was a gift to earth from Surya, the sun god, and that evidence of its existence can be seen in ancient Sanskrit writings that date back to more than 5000 years ago. Some Hindus say that the diamond was stolen from the god Krishna as he lay sleeping, while others believe that it is the Syamantaka Jewel of Indian mythology. These people believe that the Kohinoor diamond possesses great magical powers.
It has been said that whoever owned the Kohinoor diamond ruled the world, and indeed, this diamond has passed through the hands of some famous heads of states. The first mention of the Kohinoor is found in the memoirs of Mogul Empire founder and leader Barbur. He recorded the gem among the treasures of Aladdin, saying it was won during a 1304 battle in Malawah.
In 1526, the diamond resurfaced, having been obtained by the Moguls. At the time, it was supposedly at its original weight of 793 carats – the biggest diamond in the world. Unfortunately, it was poorly cut by the Emperor’s jeweler, Borgio, who was punished after reducing its size to 186 carats.
The Kohinoor passed through several different owners as the result of bloody battles, and was finally obtained by Ahmed Shah, who was the King of Afghanistan. He claimed that the diamond was a symbol of his power and authority, and managed to hold onto it for years.
In 1830, after being deposed, Shah went to Lahore to beg the Indian maharaja to help him win back his throne. The maharaja wanted the Kohinoor as part of the deal. Shuja Shah refused, and the maharaja hit him with his shoe, then threatened to kill him. Shah finally gave the diamond up, and the maharaja gave the aid that was requested.
A long-standing controversy has some in India claiming that the Kohinoor diamond was stolen by Britain. For decades, there has been a call for the famous gem to be returned to India as partial reparation for Britain’s past colonial history there. One Indian official said that such claims should be forgotten, since the Kohinoor diamond was a voluntary gift to the British crown. Stated India’s solicitor general Ranjit Kumar, “It was neither stolen nor forcibly taken away.”
The Indian government stated in April, 2016, that the solicitor general’s view does not represent its own. The Ministry of Culture states that the Kohinoor diamond is a “valued piece of art with strong roots in our nation’s history,” and that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is determined to have it returned in an amicable manner. The case has yet to be resolved.
Probably because of its connection with centuries of bloody battle and death, the Kohinoor is said to be cursed. The Kohinoor curse is somewhat contradictory: it is said that its owner is granted the power and right to rule the world, but that he will meet with death and misfortune. At the same time, the curse of Kohinoor included protection for any female who wears it.
Maharaja Ranjit Sigh died in 1839, leaving the Sikh kingdom lacking in leadership. The British raised their flag in Lahore in 1849, proclaiming the Punjab region as part of the British Empire in England. This paved the way for the colonial governor of India to have the new maharaja, 13-year-old Duleep Singh, make an impressive yet controversial gift to Britain’s Queen Victoria. He presented her with the Kohinoor diamond and the Timur ruby in 1850, after which it was taken to England, where it took center stage at London’s Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. The stone was displayed in full public view.
In 1852, Prince Albert decided that it was time to give the Kohinoor an updated look. Although it was substantially reduced in size, it gained brilliance. The stone was set in a brooch, which Queen Victoria wore frequently. At the time, it was kept at Windsor Castle, rather than at the Tower of London. Kohinoor was set in two queen consorts’ crowns after Queen Victoria’s passing. In 1937, the stone was set in the Royal British Crown, along with 2,800 other diamonds. The Kohinoor currently resides in the Tower of London, where it is on public display along with other famous stones, including the Cullinan diamond, which tops the Sovereign’s Sceptre.
The Kohinoor diamond value is not exactly known, and because it is such a unique stone, it is difficult to name a monetary price. Because it has always been bartered, stolen, or gifted, rather than being sole, there has never been a Kohinoor diamond price. Let’s compare it with another famous diamond, the Graff Pink, which was sold in Hong Kong over 60 years ago for a price of $46 million. The Graff Pink weighs just under 25 carats, making it about a quarter of the size of the Kohinoor. More than half a century ago the Kohinoor diamond price might have been about $200 million USD. The Royal British Crown itself is said to be worth somewhere between $10 and $12.7 billion, and the Kohinoor is one of the most incredible of the 2,800 diamonds it contains. While it’s exact value is unknown, it truly is priceless.
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