Diamonds are precious stones that are primarily used for making jewellery. They are well known for their brilliance and are among the most coveted stones today. A few diamonds are very famous all across the world such as the Cullinan diamond and the Orloff diamond. They are famous for different reasons. One such famous diamond is the Kohinoor. The word “Kohinoor” is a Persian word which means Mountain of Light. This diamond has a long tumultuous yet interesting history and currently resides in the United Kingdom as a part of the British Crown Jewels. The rare and popular white stone has been claimed to belong to countries such as India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and efforts were being made to get it back to its origin. Let’s take a peek into the history and facts about the Kohinoor diamond that has been the bone of contention among so many countries.
The diamond was first mined in Andhra Pradesh
It is said that the Kohinoor was first mentioned about five thousand years back in a Sanskrit text where it has been referred to as the “Samantika Mani” which literally means the prince among diamonds. People at that time believed that it belonged to a Hindu God named Krishna. The Kohinoor diamond is said to have originated Rayalaseema diamond mines in Golconda, Andhra Pradesh during the reign of the Kakatiya dynasty. The emperor of the Kakatiya dynasty, Raja of Malwa, Mahlak Deo was the first owner of the Kohinoor diamond.
The original Kohinoor weighed 793 carats
The original Kohinoor diamond weighed 793 carats. Unfortunately, it was cut repeatedly over a period of time by different owners before it was recognized as a national treasure. When it was first mined, it was known as the largest diamond in the world. However, today it weighs 105 carats and sits at the center of the Crown of the Queen of England.
The diamond is believed to be cursed
An interesting fact about the Kohinoor diamond is that it is believed to be cursed. A Hindu text, belonging to the early 1300’s, contains one of the earliest written records of the Kohinoor diamond. This ancient Hindu text states that the Kohinoor diamond cannot be owned by a male since many “misfortunes” would befall a male owner. It mentions that the owner of the diamond will have the world but will also share its misfortunes. History has recorded murder, treachery and torture associated with the possession of the Kohinoor diamond. Apparently, only God or a woman can possess the diamond with impunity.
Nadir Shah gave the diamond its name
A series of invasions in India caused the Kohinoor diamond to be owned by various rulers, one of whom was Nadir Shah of Afghanistan. He came into the possession of the diamond in 1739 and was so mesmerized by it that he named it “Kohinoor” meaning the Mountain of Light. However, a few years later he was assassinated and the diamond was cut into many pieces and distributed all over the world. The largest piece of the diamond that was still referred to as Kohinoor fell into the hands of Nadir Shah’s general Ahmed Shah Abdali who subsequently gave it to Maharaja Ranjit Singh of India in exchange for help to win back the Afghan throne.
Duleep Singh gave the Kohinoor to the British Empire
After Punjab lost in the Second Sikh War of 1849, the last ruler of Punjab, Duleep Singh, was ordered by the Governor General of India, Lord Dalhousie to hand over the Kohinoor to the Queen of the British Empire. It was then transported to England via sea and was cut again to its current shape and put in the crown by the crown jewellers Garrard & Co. It remains there to this date.