Blog

Focus on

THE DIAMOND WORLD

A necklace featuring the 38-carat Golconda Diamond, which is now on sale at a  fine art, antiques and jewelry gallery in New Orleans.

GREEK HEIRESS’S DIAMOND NOW ON SALE
CAN BE TRACED TO INDIA’S MOST FAMOUS GEM BLOOD LINE

 

A spectacular necklace, featuring the 38-carat Golconda Diamond has just been put up for sale by M.S. Rau, a fine art, antiques and jewelry gallery in New Orleans. Designed by Jacques Timey for Harry Winston, it was once was the property of the Christina Onassis, the daughter and heir of the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, second husband of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. 

A D color and Type Iia stone, meaning it lacks any trace of the nitrogen atoms that tend to provide a yellowish hue to many diamonds in the standard color range, the pear-shaped Golconda diamond is said to be two shades whiter than most other D-color diamonds. It is set in platinum and 18-karat white gold, and it is accompanied by about 25 carats of additional diamonds of G color and VS clarity.

Regarding its price, the M.S. Rau says that will be provided on request, but press reports suggest that the necklace can be purchased for a cool $7.5 million.

Diamonds are typically named for the people who owned, but stone this not known as the Christina nor the Onassis. Its moniker, Golconda, hints at a blood line that arguably is unmatched in the history of the diamond industry.

MINED IN THE GODVARI DELTA

What have the Koh-i-Noor, the Nassak, the Hope Diamond, the Daria-i-Noor, the Regent, the Dresden Green, the Orlov, the Nizam , the Jacob, the Florentine Yellow, the Akbar Shah and Great Mogul all got in common?

They are famous diamonds that at one time or another were the property of the some of the world’s most powerful and wealthy families, many of them of royal descent. But they also were mined in the Godvari Delta, which is a peri-cratonic basin in India, traversed by the Krishna River and the Godavari Rivers in what used to be the Golconda Sultanate. It was a Persian dynasty that ruled over an area that today is encompassed by the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Peri-cratonic passive margin basins are typically old and stable parts of the continental lithosphere, which consists of Earth’s two topmost layers – the crust and the uppermost mantle. Having survived cycles of merging and rifting of continents, they are considered to be geological incubators of diamonds.

During the 17th century, Golconda was the world’s primary producer of diamonds. Indeed, until the discovery of diamonds in Brazil in the early 1700s, it was only known source.

Some 38 mines were active in Golconda, with total output estimated to be around 12 million carats.

 

THE LEGENDARY KOLLUR MINE

During the rule of the Golconda Sultanate in in the 16th and 17th centuries, rough diamonds were transported to Golconda, which is today the city of Hyderabad. It established itself as a diamond trading center and it operated until the end of the 19th century, when the European cutting and trading centers became dominant.

A sketch of  a diamond mine in the Golconda region, published in “Tome premier des Indes Orientales,” which was  published by P. van der Aa in Leyden, Holland around 1725.

Arguably the most  famous stone to have been discovered at the Kollur Mine in Golconda, the 45.52-carat Hope Diamond.

The most famous diamond fields in the sultanate were at the Kollur mine, which operated between the 16th and 19th centuries, at the height of its production provided work to as many as 60,000 diggers. It was owned by Golconda’s rulers, but its operation was leased to diamond merchants, either foreigners or Indians of the goldsmith caste. The rulers collected rent, as well as 2. percent from sales. They also were entitled to keep all diamonds weighing over 10 carats.

And the discovery of large diamonds were not out of the ordinary. 

Among the famous stones said that were said to have been recovered at the Kollur Mine were the Tavernier Blue, which was purchased by the French traveler Jean-Baptiste Tavernier in the mid-17th century, and eventually was re-cut as the Hope Diamond, the Koh-i-Noor, the Wittelsbach-Graff, the Daria-i-Noor and the Dresden Green.

Mining no longer takes place at the site. It was evacuated in the 2000s to make way for the Pulichinthala irrigation project, ands today is submerged under 15 meters of water for most of the year.