For another entry in our series on the famous diamonds of history, today we look at the The Koh-i-Noor diamond.
The Koh-i-Noor, or “Mountain of Light”, is a large, colourless diamond that was originally discovered in India around the 13th century and passed through the hands of many different rulers and empires over hundreds of years and numerous conflicts. It finally ended up in the possession of Queen Victoria after the British conquest of the Punjab in 1849.
It originally weighed 793 carats before being cut down to 186 ct. After it came into the hands of the British royals, Queen Victoria’s husband had it cut down even further to 105.6 carats to improve its quality. This 42% reduction in weight led to a much brighter, more beautiful oval cut brilliant with lots of fire and sparkle.
Being one of the oldest known diamonds, it has a long and storied past that like many other famous diamonds includes tales of curses.
Since the diamond’s history involved a fair amount of deadly wars between men, the stone got a reputation for bringing bad luck to any man who wears it. Since becoming a part of the British Crown Jewels, it has only ever been worn by female members of the royal family.
Today the diamond is set in the front of the Queen Mother’s Crown, part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. You can see it on a visit to the Tower of London.
Over the years the governments of India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan have all tried to claim ownership of the Koh-i-Noor and demanded its return. However, the British government insists the gem was obtained legally under signed treaty terms and seems to have no intention of ever returning the stone. Even if it wanted to, there seems to be no clear ‘original owner’, further complicating the matter.