Greetings. I recently came into close proximity with Jerry Hall’s engagement ring. It was B-I-G. It slightly affected my cornea functions as my pupils wildly dilated upon seeing it. I somehow survived and my vision has not been too badly altered. Yeah. But when it comes to diamonds, the biggest and boldest and most bodacious of them all is the Koh-I-Noor diamond. Oh, you don’t know about it? Allow me. You are welcome. Ok, let’s do this.
Koh-I-Noor is Persian for Mountain of Light. It is a large, colourless diamond found near the modern city of Hyderabad, India. It weighed 793 carat uncut and was FIRST owned by the Kakatiya dynasty (a South Indian dynasty whose capital was Orugallu, now known as Warangal). Knowledge is power people. Anyway, the stone/diamond has changed several times between various feuding factions in South Asia over the next hundred years, before ending up in the possession of Queen Victoria after the British conquest of the Punjab in 1849.
In 1852, Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, was unhappy with its dull and irregular appearance and ordered it cut down from 186 carats. What the what? It emerged 42% lighter as a dazzling oval-cut brilliant weighing 105.6 carats. By modern standards, the cut is far from perfect (in that the cutlet is unusually broad, giving the impression of a black hole when the stone is viewed head on).
The diamond’s history involves a great deal of fighting between men, the Koh-I-Noor acquired a reputation within the British royal family for bringing bad luck to any man who wears it. Oh dear. Since arriving in the country, it has only ever been worn by female members of the family.
Today, the diamond is set in the front of The Queen Mother’s Crown-and part of the Crown Jewels of the UK. It is viewed by millions of visitors to The Tower of London each year. However, the governments of India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan have all tried to claim ownership of the Koh-I-Noor diamond and have demanded its return at various points in recent decades. I would like to interject that Americans have never tried to lay claim to this diamond. Although we do like to claim stuff. Yes I said it. Anyway, here is a picture of it in The Queen Mother’s Crown.
The recent claim or rather demand comes from a Pakistan lawyer who, after years of campaigning and letter writing, has been promised his day in court in Islamabad. Yup, good luck mate. There he will argue that the stone was illegally obtained-he says ‘snatched illegally’ from an area that subsequently became part of Pakistan when India was partitioned in 1947. Further, his petition calls for a response not only from the British Government but from the Queen-appropriately, perhaps, as it was her great-great-grandmother’s hands that the Koh-I-Noor fell. Not sure if he has a case. Let it go, I say. However, the British government insists that the gem was obtained legally under the terms of the Treaty of Lahore (in 1846 and was a peace treaty marking the end of the First Anglo-Sikh War).
The diamond, now set into a Crown (pictured above) is now with the rest of the other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. Whether this will be its last resting place, it remains to be seen. But so far, the British government has consistently resisted outside claims of ownership. On a visit to India in 2013, our PM David Cameron made it clear that he would not relinquish the Koh-I-Noor diamond, as he declared, ‘I don’t believe in returnism.’ Is that even a word? Anyway, one thing I know for sure, the diamond stays. And diamonds are forever.
NB The history around this diamond is pretty interesting. If you want to know more check out this link: