(Last Updated on : 26/12/2013)
The sand and soil of India over the time have produced the most celebrated diamonds of all time. Though today, Indian sources are said to have declined. The Darya-i-Noor, or 'Sea of Light', is probably one of the few diamonds to have repeatedly invited speculation about its identity, while all these gems are wrapped in a cloak of mystery and intrigue.
From the rich alluvial soil deposits of Golconda, this pale pink, shimmering stone was discovered and it possesses a unique limpidity that is characteristic of the finest Indian diamonds. This table-cut stone's pavilion consists of large step facets of which one bears an inscription in Persian, "The Sultan, Sahib Qiram, Fath Ali Shah, Qajar 1250" (AD 1834, the year of his death). As the diamond has been variously set as an armlet, a brooch and an aigrette, there is a high probability that the weight of this fabulous gem has never been accurately determined. However, it's estimated weight of about 185 carats, made it the largest pink diamond known to man. The gem now can be seen in the National jewels Museum in Tehran. The shimmering stone set in a frame with 457 diamonds and 24 rubies. The beautiful pink color does not curtail from a trace element, as in the case of yellow (nitrogen) or blue (boron) diamonds. The color is the probable result of graining and structural complexities. The world output of pink diamonds being so low whenever they are sold. But these lovely stones are highly desirable and attract record prices.
With an invaluable account 111 Jean-Baptiste Tavernier's Travels in India; the story of the Darya-i-Noor begins. In the book he describes a bravura diamond that he had seen in one of the mines in the Golconda region. He drew a diagram of this stone, in 1642. The stone is referred to it as the Great Table diamond, recorded its weight as 242 carats.
The Great Table has been supposed to be lost since then. But over the world gemologists and collectors find it hard to accept that a stone of such size and magnificence could disappear without a trace. In fact, experts often implicit that it had been stolen and broken up into smaller pieces, or renamed by various owners. This assumption inadvertently was proved right by the following series of events.
The Birks Family Foundation in 1966 made available a grant to the three gemologists of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto to study and certify the crown jewels of Iran. Their work highlighted a surprising disclosure about a particular stone in the collection. This gem, infatuated a rare pink radiance, called the Darya-i-Noor, which perfectly matched the legendary Great Table diamond. The lost link to the historical diamond was again found. The Canadian gemologists accomplished that the Darya-i-Noor was indeed a cleavage of the Great Table.
How was it that a stone unearthed in India had become the prized possession of the crown jewels of Iran? In 1739, since Nadir Shah's sack of Delhi, it is normally accepted that several priceless and famous diamonds found their way into the treasury in Tehran. The Darya-i-Noor and the Taj-i-Mah, two of the world's most astonishing diamonds, both of Indian origin, are still a central point of the collection.
Another piece of the puzzle took place with the introduction to 'The Dynasty of the Kajars' by Sir Harford Jones Brydges. During the reign of Fath Ali Shah, Brydges was appointed representative to the court of Persia from 1807 to 1811. Luft Ali Khan was the last ruler of the Zend dynasty. He authorised Brydges before this in 1791, to act as an agent in the sale of the Darya-i-Noor in order to raise money for his war against the Qajar chief, Aga Mohammed Khan. Brydges got the rare opportunity to examine the magnificent stone in the treasury during that time. On his word the Darya-i-Noor is a table diamond with a pale pink sparkle, validating Tavernier's description of the beautiful gem. The only incongruity lay in the weight of the diamond. Lapidary from AH Khan's court, Mirza Jaunee, reported to Brydges that it weighed a little over 176 carats. Whereas Tavernier's records about the gem stated that it weighed 242 carats. The Canadian gemologists put through a sieved the details till they found the reason for this discrepancy. The mistake was probably an oversight as they suggested that and the weight reported to Brydges should have been a little over 176 'mangelins' and not 'carats'. A 'mangelin' is an old Indian weight for gems and one 'mangelin' is approximately 1.40 carats.
As suggested by Brydges if the Great Table and the Darya-i-Noor are one and the same, then the diamond called Darya-i-Noor that we see today is certainly different from the one described by Tavernier. The present Darya-i-Noor is perceptibly shorter than the Great Table as drawn by Tavernier. Also, when Brydges inspected it in Persia, the gem had not been emblazoned. In the East it is believed that, gems in general, and diamonds in particular, were chosen for their size rather than for brilliance. The Canadian gemologists said that the Darya-i-Noor had been involved in an accident, which split it. The accident probably occurred around 1834, the year emblazoned on the stone. Here it is significant to clarify that a diamond's hardness is not to be confused with feebleness, for if a luminously cut diamond was to drop to the ground with force, it would split if the impact occurred at the point of its cleavage.
When another pink diamond, the Noor-ul-Ain, or 'Light of the Eye', was found in the Iranian Crown Jewels this mystery gets solved. The Noor-ul-Ain is anticipated to be around 60 carats and possesses a slight imperfection. This however in all probability occurred when the stone split from the larger Darya-i-Noor in the diamond workshop of the Golestan Palace in Tehran. This to some extent drop-shaped oval matched the color and limpidity of the Darya-i-Noor exactly. It became the pride and joy of a fabulous tiara made for Empress Farah Diba to wear at her wedding in 1958, by Harry Winston, the New York jeweler. Blue, yellow pink, and colorless diamonds including a 10-carat pear shaped yellow stone embellishes this tiara.
However, the total weight of the Darya-i-Noor and the Noor-ul-Ain go beyond that of the Great Table. It did not take into account any loss during cutting. With the experiments it was proved that Tavernier's report stating the weight as 242 carats was incorrect. At last, on the firmament of diamond history, the identity of the Darya-i-Noor had been unambiguously established.
The Darya-i-Noor, which ornamented the military cap of the last Shah of Iran at his coronation in 1967, has survived the withstanding of time; its fragile existence often endangered by the negative effects of war and accident.