Our name is proudly Koh-i-noor, but do you know the history of the stone we love that much?
By the way, the Koh-i-noor is a diamond of record dimensions, of about 105 carats, still set in the crown of the Queen Mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, mother of the current Queen Elizabeth II, guarded in the Tower of London together with the other Crown jewels.
Even more popular now due to a recent diplomatic controversy, it is probable that it has been mined around 1300 from one of the mines of antique Golconda, in India.
The first hint about this stone reveals how, in 1526, Muhammad Babur, great nephew of the more famous Genghis Khan, it was conquered as a war booty after the defeat of the sovereign of Delhi.
When Babur died, the Koh-i-noor was a part of the heritage of his son, Humayun, who reigned for 26 years, until he was exiled in Persia in 1544. As a sign of gratitude, Humayun donated the stone to the king of Persia Shah Tahmasp in 1547, then he died in 1556.
A few time after, anyway, the Persian king sent back to India the Koh-i-noor, so it went back in Humayun’s family hands: to be more precise, in his nephew Aurangzeb’s hands. He was the son of the sponsor of Taj Mahal and the Peacock Throne.
Aurangzeb died in 1707, so the Koh-i-noor turned up to the Indian dynasty Mogul, which was later defeated by the Persian king Nader Shah.
Aware of not being able to admin the great empire he conquered, Nader Shah left the reign to the Moguls, though demanding the payment of war costs and the jewels of the Indian chief.
The legend tells us that the Persian knew from a concubine of the Mogul’s harem that the Indian sovereign was hiding some precious stones in his turban; so, during a banquet organized to ratify their alliance, he proposed to exchange their crowns as a friendship gesture.
Once alone, he unrolled the turban and, seeing the famous stone there hidden, the shouted out “Koh-i-noor!” which means “Mountain of light” in Farsi.
During the following years the heirs of the Persian strategist enlarged their conquests up to Afghanistan, always bringing with them the craved stone.
The last exponent of the dynasty saw his reign collapsing in 1810 and he found asylum at the court of Ranjit Singh, Sikh emperor of Punjab, in India, who demanded the Koh-i-noor as a return.
The stone stayed there until 1849, when the State was included in the British Empire after the Lahore agreement. This treaty couldn’t exclude the transfer of the diamond, so delivered to Queen Victoria July 3rd, 1850.
The expert gemologists of England believed the cut was not perfect, not enhancing the brightness of the stone: so it was cut again, under the monitoring of Prince Albert, husband of the Queen.
It is renown the operation had a price of 8.000 pounds, a really considerable cost, and from that moment on the stone has an oval shape.
First set on a platinum crown used for the crowning of Queen Mary, wife of the King George V, it was then moved on the crown of the Queen Mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, where it still shines after its long odyssey.
India, in the last decades, often claimed the return of the Koh-i-noor, even involving the ONU. Despite this, the stone still seems it has to shine at the Tower of London.
This post is also available in: Italian