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Koh-i-Noor Diamond

 
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 "Koh-i-noor" is Persian and means "Mountain of Light". The Koh-i-Noor, Koh-i-Nur, or Kohinoor is a 108 carat diamond that originated in the subcontinent of India and belonged to various Indian and Persian rulers at different points in its history.
 
 In 1851 the diamond was given, in controversial circumstances, to Queen Victoria and is currently in a crown of the British royal family that belonged to the late Queen Mother.
 
Like all significant jewels, the Koh-i-Noor diamond has its share of legends. This particular stone is reputed to bring misfortune or death to any male who wears or owns it - a claim which its history has, so far, not disproven. It is, by legend, worth the amount of wealth generated around the whole world in seven days.
 
 Contents
1 Origins and early history

2 A controversial gift

3 The Crown Jewels

4 Campaign to return the Koh-i-noor to India
 
 Origins and early history
 
The stone is surrounded with myth and legend, and accurate records are hard to verify. Despite claims it is 5,000 years old, the first reliable note mentioning it dates from 1526, when the stone was described as belonging to the Rajah of Malwa, India, in 1304. It was taken from him by force by Sultan Ala-ed-din Khilji and then a succession of Mogul emperors from 1526 to 1739.
 
After construction of the Taj Mahal, the stone was mounted on the walls of the imperial chambers. When the Emperor Aurangazeb imprisoned his ailing father, Shah Jahan in the Taj Mahal, the son had the Koh-i-noor stationed against a window so that Shah Jahan could look at the stone and see the breathtaking North Indian countryside reflected in the stone. There it stayed until the invasion of Nadir Shah in 1739 and the sacking of Agra and Delhi. Along with the Peacock Throne, he also carried off the Koh-i-noor to Persia in 1739. It was allegedly Nadir Shah who exclaimed Koh-i-Noor! when he finally managed to obtain the famous stone, and this is how the stone was named. Certainly there is no reference to this name before 1739.
 
After the assassination of Nadir Shah in 1747 it came into the hands of Ahmad Shah of Afghanistan. It was passed down to his descendants until it was taken by the Sikh Maharaja (King) of Punjab Ranjit Singh, during a campaign in Afghanistan in 1813.
 
A controversial gift
 
Ranjit Singh later crowned himself as the ruler of Punjab and willed the Koh-i-noor to a Hindu temple in Orissa while on his deathbed in 1839. But there was dispute about this last-minute testament, and after his death the British administrators did not execute his will. The diamond was given by Ranjit Singh's successor, Duleep Singh, to Queen Victoria in 1851. Indian historians argue that Ranjit's successor was only a minor, and would not have given the diamond away without prompting from his British advisers.
The Crown Jewels

 

In 1852, under the personal supervision of Victoria's consort, Prince Albert, the diamond was cut from 186 1/16 to its current 108 1/16 carats, to increase its brilliance. Albert consulted widely, took enormous pains, and spent some £8,000 on the operation, but nevertheless was dissatisfied with the result. The stone was mounted in a tiara with more than two thousand other diamonds.


In 1936 the stone was set into the crown of the new Queen Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mother) wife of King George VI. In 2002 the crown rested atop her coffin as she lay in state.

Campaign to return the Koh-i-noor to India
 
The government of India has repeatedly lobbied the British Government and the British monarchy for the return of this diamond, claiming legitimate ownership. As of 2005, the gem remains in the United Kingdom.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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All Rights Reserved. 2003. DIAMOND-INFORMATION.
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