Even though it’s not the biggest diamond in the world, the history and legends that surround it are truly breath-taking. Here’s the remarkable journey of the Mountain of Light: from the eye of the Peacock Throne to Queen Elisabeth’s crown.
According to the oldest legends, the diamond has been found next to a baby abandoned at the banks of Jamuna river – the infant turned out to be the son of the Sun God. Throughout the ages, it was believed that whoever has Koh-i-Noor can rule over the entire world. Therefore, the stone quickly became an object of desire for rulers, a symbol of absolute power and, in the end, a reason for battles and a bone of contention for South Asian countries that continues to spark tensions even in this day and age!
history and legends
that surround it are
The first recorded mention of the diamond comes from early XIV century during which it remained in the possession of the Raja of Malwa. The history has very little to tell us about the fate of the stone until 1526, when Koh-i-Noor finds its way into the hands of Barbar, the leader of Great Mongols who had conquered India, and later into the hands of his son. It’s the moment when our diamond takes its rightful place within the Peacock Throne – a symbol of Mongolian rule.
In years of battles, falling dynasties and struggles for power, the history of the Mountain of Light winds through Persia and India all the way to 1850 when – in great secrecy – it was removed from Bombay’s vaults and shipped to England aboard Royal Navy steamship.
From here on, its fates are pretty well documented. In April 1851 the stone was professionally appraised for the first time: at the time it weighed 186 and 1/10 ct. The decision to recut the stone – because of its poor brilliance – has been made in spite of widespread controversy and amid numerous fears. Improving the cut and stone’s brilliance took 38 days and cost the royal family about 8000 pounds. The final product was an oval diamond weighing 108.93 ct. Queen Victoria wore it in a brooch. It has been set in the cross on the rim of the insignia the Queen Mother’s crown shortly before the World War II broke out.
Despite the significant improvement in Koh-i-Noor’s brilliance, many critics contended that it was achieved at too big a loss in material. Losing 42% of the mass stirred extreme emotions. The latest research, however, shows that considering the limited clarity of the stone (five inclusions located at the edges of the diamond were removed) and limitations of tools and technology available at the time, the cutter did tremendous work and kept the losses at bay. Modern Koh-i-Noor is a diamond of a phenomenal cut – with 33 facets in its crown and 33 facets at the base, its brilliance is a true delight worthy of royals.