For nearly 2000 years, the word “Golconda” brought to mind images of prosperity, wealth, and, more importantly, diamonds. Golconda Fort was a trading center that has seen many large and beautiful diamonds.
But you might still be wondering: Which diamond was found in Golconda Fort?
As a matter of fact, several diamonds originated from Golconda, but two of them stand out – the Koh-I-Noor Diamond and the Hope Diamond.
In this article, we’ve covered the history of Golconda, its most famed diamonds, and the gems’ stories throughout history.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
History And Location Of Golconda
The ruins of the ancient fort Golconda lie about 11 kilometers from Hyderabad, a city in southern India.
Originally constructed back in the 12th century on a hill over 100 meters high, the Golconda Fort rose to fame as the capital city of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, somewhere in the 16th century.
Unfortunately, the fort fell under conquest in 1687 by the Mughal Empire.
The Golconda Fort was a massive granite fortification that included a royal palace, mansions of the nobility, treasury, and a bazaar where diamonds were traded.
In India, diamonds have been known since the 4th century BCE.
Marco Polo mentioned diamonds in the 13th century in his manuscript, detailing his travels. In his journal, the famed jeweler and traveler Jean Baptiste Tavernier wrote extensively about this particular area.
The original diamond mines of Golconda were located outside the Golconda Fort but within the territories of the Golconda Kingdom. They comprised an area around 330 kilometers long and 150 kilometers wide.
Between the 16th and 19th centuries, around 20 diamond mines were in operation.
As you can imagine, diamond excavation was an arduous job. Reports from that period describe different techniques based on terrain and location, including open-pit mining and tunneling.
The diamond mines ceased most of their production by the end of the 19th century.
Today, the Geological Survey of India uses modern equipment and exploration methods to see if there are any leftover diamonds to be extracted in the area.
Famous Diamonds From The Golconda Region
Many famous diamonds come from the Golconda region, mainly Wittelsbach-Graff and Dresden Green.
Precious stones with documented histories that date to periods before the discovery of Brasilian diamond deposits are likely from Golconda – their shape and cut may further confirm their origin:
Another possible identifying factor of Golconda diamonds is their type, directly related to color. You see, diamonds from this region tend to be IIa diamonds, which are pretty rare – only 2% of all diamonds fall into this category.
These stones have no measurable boron or nitrogen impurities within them. Because these type IIa diamonds are so pure, they transmit visible light and UV light that type I stones block.
Colorless type IIa stones are exceptionally transparent.
A diamond’s transparency and color were described compared to water, as was the convention of the time. Tavernier, in his journals, describes diamonds from Golconda as the “first water” or “perfect water.”
Colored diamonds can be type I or type II. Most blue diamonds are type IIb, nitrogen-free, and owe their blue color to boron traces within them.
Although diamond production in the Golconda regions has ended, we’re lucky that some of the stones unearthed so long ago are with us today.
In addition to their stunning beauty, many of these diamonds carry fascinating histories as they traveled continents and changed hands through the centuries.
The Fabled Koh-I-Noor Diamond
The 105.6-carat, modified oval brilliant-cut diamond by the name Koh-I-Noor is one of the most cherished Indian diamonds – and probably the most well-known one, as well.
Like most other famous gemstones, the Koh-I-Noor has had its share of intrigue, mystery, and curses attached to its long history. This diamond has the unique distinction of never being sold:
The gem was won in the course of wars, bloody rebellions, and uprisings, going from one owner to another.
Upon his ascension to the throne of Delhi, Ghiyas ud din Tughlug Shah I sent his son on the mission to conquer Warangal in the Kingdom of Golconda.
The following loot of Warangal resulted in the victors claiming a wealth of gems and bringing it back to Delhi – including the Koh-I-Noor.
Diamond’s ownership changed royal hands from one ruler to another until, in 1526 AD, when it became the property of Babur – the first emperor of the Moghul Empire.
Its original magnificence was forever lost when an unscrupulous jeweler named Borgio reduced Koh-I-Noor’s massive size to a fraction of its former self – from 793 carats down to 186 carats.
Angering his Emperor, the jeweler paid heavily for his act, having all his property confiscated by the Crown.
The now reduced Koh-I-Noor remained with Moguls until the 1740, when Nadir Shah of Persia occupied India. According to some beliefs, the Mogul emperor hid Koh-I-Noor in his turban in a wish to remain in possession of it.
However, Nadir Shah was aware of the defeated Mogul emperor’s scheme, so he outsmarted his Mogul counterpart without relying on violence:
Nadir promptly suggested to the defeated Mogul emperor that they should exchange turbans to symbolize eternal friendship – this was standard Oriental custom at the time.
Refusing this offer would’ve been viewed as an insult to his conqueror. So, the defeated Mogul emperor had to accept and exchange turbans, giving up the Koh-I-Noor diamond.
Nadir took the diamond and returned to Persia.
While the gemstone was in the custody of Nadir it earned its current name, meaning “mountain of light.”
Following the death of Nadir, Koh-I-Noor diamond came to be in possession of Ahmed Shah, an Afghan chief. Upon establishing himself as a new king of Afghanistan, Ahmed used the gem as the symbol of his authority.
Through a series of political rebellions, eventually, the diamond found its way back to India.
By the end of 1849, the British confiscated the gemstone as compensation for the Sikh wars. According to the Governor-General of India, Sir John Lawerence, the Sikhs handed him a tiny tin box that contained the Koh-I-Noor diamond.
Inexplicably, the box was misplaced somehow and soon forgotten. It was not until the British Government made inquiries about the gems that they conducted a search.
And luckily, the Koh-I-Noor was found.
Upon reaching London, the diamond disappointed the British Royal Family with the lack of its beauty. Jewelers tried to re-cut the stone in an attempt at regaining its brilliance – only to reduce its size from 186 carats to just under 109 carats.
During this time, the curse was first mentioned in connection with the Koh-I-Noor, claiming that misfortune would befall whoever wore it.
The supposed curse didn’t bother the British Crown, and the Koh-I-Noor was set in a tiara made for Queen Victoria. Later, Koh-I-Noor was used in a crown at the Queen Mary’s coronation.
And in 1937, the diamond was used as the center stone for a crown made for Queen Elizabeth. Besides the difference in bearing the Koh-I-Noor, centered in a Maltese Cross motif, this is the only British headpiece crafted out of platinum.
Many countries laid claim to the Koh-I-Noor. The Sikhs demanded the return of the gem to India. The last descendant of Duleep Singh, Beant Singh Sandhawalia, has also requested the return of the Koh-I-Noor diamond.
The Islamic extremist Taleban also demanded that the Koh-I-Noor be returned to Afghanistan. They assert that the diamond is still their property.
Due to the number of competing claims, it’s hard to determine the actual, legitimate ownership of the Koh-I-Noor diamond. Thus, it remains the property of the British Crown – located in the Tower Of London.
Another famous diamond coming from the Golconda Fort is a 45.52-carat, type IIb dark blue Hope Diamond. Thievery, revolution, royalty, gambling, curses, and mystery are all part of this famous – and infamous – gemstone.
Contributing to the reportedly flawless looks and beauty is its unique red phosphorescence.
The Hope Diamond’s diverse and interesting history begins with a French traveler and merchant named Jean Baptiste Tavernier, who purchased a 112-carat diamond.
Having a crude cut and being triangular in shape, its beauty was more than evident even at that time. Tavernier described the stone’s color as a “beautiful violet.”
Later on, the Hope Diamond obtained a status of royalty when it was sold to King Louis XIV of France. King Louis’s court jeweler named Sieur Pitau re-cut the stone in 1673, reducing its carat weight to 67 carats.
At this time, the color of the Hope Diamond was described as intense steely-blue.
King Louis XIV made the diamond a part of his official wardrobe. He wore the Hope Diamond in a gold setting suspended from a neck ribbon. It soon became known as the “French Blue.”
In 1949, the diamond was reset into a piece of jewelry by Andre Jacquemin – a court jeweler of King Louis XV.
During the reign of King Louis XVI, all of the French Royal Treasury gemstones and jewels were confiscated by the government. However, the Hope Diamond wasn’t turned to the government – until it was stolen in 1792 during the French Revolution upheaval, that is.
The diamond resurfaced in London in 1812. A diamond merchant by the name of Daniel Eliason was supposedly in possession of the Hope Diamond. Somehow the diamond found its way to a royal family again – becoming the property of the King of England, George IV.
Upon his death in 1830, the Hope Diamond was sold to resolve his debts.
More mystery revolves around the Hope Diamond. How come? Well, there’s no evidence of where or from whom the next owner Henry Philip Hope got it.
It was during Henry’s ownership that the diamond acquired its famous name, taking the owner’s last name, Hope.
By 1839 the diamond passed to Henry Thomas Hope. in 1887, the Hope Diamond was handed to Francis Pelham Clinton, however, with a condition to change his name to Hope and never sell the diamond.
Now known as Lord Francis, Hope found himself bankrupt and decided to turn to the one asses he had remaining that could help relieve his debt situation.
And after years of legal wrangling Lord Hope finally got permission to sell the Hope Diamond in 1901.
What happened next?
Over the next ten years, the diamond changed owners many times. They included a Turkish diplomat, a New York dealer, a French diamond expert, and in the end, a French jeweler by the name of Pierre Cartier.
In 1910, Mrs. Eavalyn McLean was presented with the diamond at Cartier in Paris.
However, she rejected the offer because of the diamond’s setting. Not taking “No” for an answer, Cartier decided to re-set the diamond and took it to Mrs. McLean.
The legend has it that the Hope curse started with Cartier, who wanted to gain the attention of Mrs. McLean further.
Cartier left the stone with Mrs. McLean for the weekend, after which she decided to purchase it in 1911. She had the Hope Diamond mounted as a headpiece, and after that, the diamond was later set in a pendant.
There was already a legend of curse revolving around the diamond, but Mrs. McLean never considered the Hope Diamond unlucky – even though her life was full of tragedy.
Two years after her death, along with her entire jewelry collection, the Hope Diamond was sold in 1947 to Harry Winston.
After ten years of the stone’s charity money-raising tour, in November 1958, Hary Winston donated the stone to the Smithsonian Institution.
Since then, the Hope Diamond has traveled very little – it was displayed outside its current home only four times. Today, the Hope Diamond can be observed at the Smithsonian Museum as one of their star attractions.
Being a significant diamond trading center, the Golconda Fort was the source of the largest and finest diamonds in the world. Which diamond was found in Golconda fort?
Well, the truth is, there are several famous diamonds found in Golconda – but two stand out of the bunch. Koh-I-Noor diamond and the Hope Diamond are two fabled stones found in Golconda fort.
Apart from their stunning appearances, both of these diamonds are mysterious in their way. Their journey through history makes them so unique and fascinating to this day!
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