Five Things You Didn’t Know About the Kohinoor Diamond

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The Largest of Them All

What is left of the original Kohinoor diamond is an impressive 105 carats, but even that is a mere fraction of its original, uncut 793 carats. The enormous colorless diamond was believed to have been found around the 14th century in Andhra Pradesh, India. Its uncut form was owned by the Kakatiya dynasty before being passed across several hands over centuries, cut and recut until its present 105-carats.

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‘Disappointment’

The massive stone, though impressive by sheer weight and size, has an appearance that many consider disappointing. Of its many flaws, there was one that Prince Albert found especially necessary to cut away, above a general dissatisfaction with the purported dullness and irregularity of the remaining 186-carats. Indeed, under the technical direction of the queen's mineralogist and the supervision of both Prince Albert and the Duke of Wellington, the diamond was re-cut over a period of 38 days, and reduced by a staggering 42 percent.

Curse of the Kohinoor

According to an age-old superstition, the Kohinoor diamond, whose name translates to Mountain of Light in Persian, may only be worn by a woman or a God. Around its discovery in 1306, a Hindu text described that any man who owns the diamond will rule the world but also know all its tragedies.

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Diamond of Babur

Before it was named ‘Mountain of Light’, the Kohinoor diamond went through a series of names just as the many hands it passed along through time. Of its many monikers, the "Diamond of Babur”, based on the possession of a Turco-Mongol warlord named Babur (early 16th century), is significant because of his memoirs, which many historians deem among the earliest reliable reference to the legendary diamond.

Controversy

The Kohinoor, now owned by the British, has fueled controversy over its rightful ownership. Several efforts are in place by the Indian government, who are attempting to retrieve the diamond, which is currently part of the British crown jewels and on display in the Tower of London. There is heavy debate over whether the diamond was indeed a gift to the United Kingdom, or an unlawful acquisition, and while it is currently has been with the British for more than 160 years, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan have all tried to claim the diamond.

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