The Ahmedabad diamond gets it's name from the city of Ahmedabad the capital of Gujarat State in central-western India, where the diamond was reported to have been purchased by Jean Baptiste Tavernier in the 17th century A.D. Ahmedabad was then in the forefront of the diamond industry in India, and perhaps in the whole world as the main diamond cutting centre, which was equivalent to the coveted position held by Antwerp, Belgium, today in the international diamond industry. Jean Baptiste Tavernier, not only purchased the rough diamond at Ahmedabad, but also got it cut by the renowned master-cutters based in this ancient city, an additional reason why the diamond qualifies for the name assigned to it. It was Edwin Streeter in his book, "The Great Diamonds of the World" who first used the name "Ahmedabad Diamond", which Tavernier claimed he bought for one of his friends.
Ahmedabad Diamond - D-color, pear-shaped, VS1-clarity stone weighing 78.86 carats
According to the G.I.A. certificate issued in respect of this diamond, the Ahmedabad is a D-color, pear-shaped,VS-1 clarity stone, having a weight of 78.86 carats.The certificate is accompanied by a working diagram indicating that the clarity is improvable.
Another view of the 78.86-carat pear-shaped Ahmedabad diamond
The diamond is undoubtedly of Indian origin as it is a stone of the 17th century when India was the only source country for diamonds in the world. But the mine of origin is uncertain, and it could be any one of the five groups of mines on the eastern side of the Deccan Plateau. Judging by the color and clarity of the stone which is of a very high order, the mine of origin could well be the Kollur mines, east of Golconda, which was fully operational at that time, with over 20 mines being worked, at the time Tavernier visited Golconda in 1642.Tavernier stated that over 60,000 people were engaged in these mines at the time of his visit. Before the discovery of diamonds in South Africa in the 1860s, the name Golconda was synonymous with exceptional quality diamonds, so much so, that any high quality colorless diamond, without any yellowish tint, was referred to as "Golconda," irrespective of the mine from where it was discovered. Thus the term "Golconda" was used to describe the high quality of the diamond. Likewise Brazilian place names such as Begagem, Canavieras, Diamantinas etc. other sources of diamonds in the 18th-century, were used for lesser quality diamonds.
Jean Baptiste Tavernier was a famous French traveler and gem trader who visited Ahmedabad on several occasions in the 17th century A.D. Having made up to six trips to the east during a period of 37 years, from 1631 to 1668. He published his book "Travels in India" in 1676, in which he gives detail descriptions of famous diamonds and rubies he had seen during his travels, accompanied by illustrations.
Original title-page of Tavernier's book "The Six Voyages of Jean Baptiste Tavernier - Travels in India - Part 2 " published in 1676 (MDCLXXVI)
Jean Baptiste Tavernier -The French Jeweler and Traveler
Jean baptiste Tavernier, wearing a mogul dress - extracted from his book "The Six Voyages of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier" published in 1676.
In Chapter XXII of Part 2 of his book, "Travels in India" Tavernier describes some of the notable diamonds, he had seen during the course of his travels, accompanied by sketches of these diamonds. Sketch No.1 is a depiction of the "Great Moghul Diamond." Sketch nos. 2 & 3 are the famous "Florentine Diamond" and the "Great Table Diamond."
Illustrations of some famous diamonds from Tavernier's book "The Six Voyages of Jean Baptiste Tavernier"
About sketch nos 4 & 5 above Tavernier writes :-
"No. 4 represents a diamond which I bought at Ahmadabad for one of my friends. It weighed 178 ratis, or 157½ of our carats...[no. 5] represents the shape of the above mentioned diamond after it had been cut on both sides. Its weight was then 94½ carats, and its water was perfect. The flat side, where there are two flaws at the base, was about the thickness of a sheet of stout paper. When I had the stone cut I had this portion removed, together with a part of the point above, where a small speck of the flaw still remains."
Thus, sketches 4 and 5 above are representations of the "Ahmedabad Diamond" before and after cutting. This is perhaps the only instance where Tavernier gives the sketches of both the rough and polished forms of a diamond. Illustration 5, shows that the cut diamond is a pear-shaped or almost a briolette-shaped diamond. According to Tavernier's own account, the rough diamond was cut in Ahmedabad, another reason why the diamond qualifies for the name assigned to it, by subsequent writers, like Edwin Streeter. Tavernier has also indicated in his sketches the position of the minor flaws at the base of the diamond.
Edwin Streeter - from his book "Precious Stones and Gems" published 1898
Chapter XIII - The Ahmedabad Diamond
AHMEDABAD is not a pleasant name to British ears. A French officer, the Chevalier St. Lubin, acting secretly with some Mahratta chief, following up in the Ghauts the schemes he had only two successfully adopted in Mysore, produced the disasters attending the war of Hyder Ali with the Madras Government. Governor-General Warren Hastings directed that a force should be sent to assist the Government of Bombay. The Peishwa of Poonah was an infant, and the chief authority was thrown into the hands of Rugonath Raw.
Without waiting for the support of the troops from Bengal, the Government of Bombay commenced hostilities. The troops of the former Presidency moved slowly, harrassed by the Mahrattas, and before a general action was attempted Colonel Kay and Captain Stewart fell in a skirmish. Colonel Egerton was compelled to relinguish the command, and the British troops commenced an ill-considered retreat. On the nth January, 1779, this retreat degenerated into a rout. So little power had the British in Bombay reserved to themselves, that when their ally Rugonath Raw was demanded to be surrendered by the Poona minister, the panic-stricken Government of Bombay would have given him up, had he not made his escape to Scindia. The British, by the help of Scindia, made a convention with the Mahratta Government of Poona, by which the Island of Salsette was to be ceded, and the fort and government of Baroach were to be added to Scindia's kingdom, two hostages being left to secure the performance of that engagement from the British. This arrangement cost England 41,000 rupees as presents for the good offices of some powerful Hindoos.
The Bengal contingent was intercepted by native chiefs, and so little progress had Colonel Leslie made in five months that the Governor-General recalled him, and appointed Colonel Goddard to succeed to the command. After this the Bengal contingent was very soon marched into Bombay, and in 1780 Colonel Goddard put his army in motion, and Ahmedabad was taken by assault. From its position, at the eastern end of Gujerat, both Scindia and Holkar were threatened with check, and these two chiefs advanced to give battle to Goddard, when the British general at once accepted the challenge. Scindia used all the eastern arts to avert the engagement he had challenged, but Goddard brought the matter to an end by an attack upon the enemy's camp, which proved successful. In the meantime a small force under Captain Popham attacked Lahar, 50 miles from Calpie, and, to the astonishment of Sir Eyre Coote, carried it by storm. If possible, it was an object of great importance to take Gwalior, deemed by the Indian military authorities impregnable. Popham sat down to consider how to deal with the " exceeding high rockâ€”scarped nearly all round " and garrisoned by a thousand men. He saw his point, and actually determined personally to attempt the capture, and after midnight he was in the fort. This gave Bombay a respite and a lesson.
Such bandits as the Mahrattas, are constantly dividing the booty taken in the expeditions against feebler communities. In a hotly contested engagement like that of Ahmedabad, the soldiers of the native chiefs often find valuable loot on the persons of their officers, whom they rob when dead or severely wounded. These are the occasions which skilled collectors of valuables improve. We readily believe M. Tavernier when he says that he purchased this magnificent stone, the " 'Ahmedabad,' for one of his friends, and that it originally weighed 157-1/4 carats, but after being cut on either side the jewel was reduced to 94-1/2 carats, and that its water was perfect. The flat side, where there were two flaws below, was about the thickness of a sheet of stout paper. When I had the stone cut I caused all this part to be removed together with a portion of the upper point where little flaws remained."
It is strange that nothing further should be known regarding a stone, which, even when reduced by cutting, was still over 94 carats in weight. Tavernier probably never brought it to Europe, but disposed of it in Persia, where there are still many hidden treasures, destined again to turn up whenever liberal institutions are introduced into that oppressed country.
From Streeter's account above, it is clear that since the description of the diamond by Tavernier in his book, "Travels in India" in the late 17th-century, nothing certain is known about the history of the Ahmedabad diamond after that, and what has been written by some authors of famous diamonds, is mere speculation and conjecture.
The first question that naturally arises out of Tavernier's account is the exact identity of the friend for whom Tavernier purchased the diamond. A person in Europe, who could most likely have been the friend Tavernier referred to, was King Louis XIV of France, with whom Tavernier has had several business dealings which included the sale of several diamonds. But, no where has any reference been made to a diamond such as the Ahmedabad entering the crown jewels of France. Streeter believes that Tavernier probably never brought it into Europe, but disposed of it in Persia itself, the diamond finding its way into Persia, via one of the many ports of Gujarat. However, no trace of the Ahmedabad diamond has ever been found among the Crown Jewels of Iran.
A third option would be that the diamond probably entered the court of one of the greatest Moghul emperors of India at that time, Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707),who not only entertained Tavernier in his court, but also gave him the rare privilege of examining the important Crown jewels of the Mughal court, of which he gives a vivid description in his book. Emperor Aurangazeb was a noted collector of diamonds, and perhaps the Ahmedabad entered his collection of diamonds. It was equally probable that the diamond sometimes would have entered the court of one of the powerful princes, who were under the allegiance of the Mughal empire.
The most likely explanation would be that the friend Tavernier referred to, would have been one of the emperor's courtiers who would have purchased the gem on the behalf of the emperor. The identity of one of Tavernier's friends who was also a respected member of Emperor Aurangazeb's court is well established. He is none other than Shaista Khan, a General in the army of the Mughal empire, who led the Mughal army against the Maratha rebel Shivaji in 1660, and later served as the Governor of Bengal from 1664 to 1688. Tavernier had close business dealings with Shaista Khan, and always preferred to deal with him first when he arrived in India before showing his wares to any other prospective buyer.
Emperor Aurangzeb holding court seated on a golden throne.Shaista Khan stands behind prince Muhammad Azam. The Emperor is holding a hawk in his right hand.
Out of the three options given above, for the historical course of the Ahmedabad diamond it appears that the third was the correct option, and the celebrated diamond, as predicted never left the shores of India at all. The diamond appears to have entered the treasury of the Kingdom of Oudh (Awadh), founded in 1722 and remained a province of the Mughal empire until 1819. Oudh or Ayodhya was the capital of the ancient Buddhist Kingdom of Kosala (6 BC-5 BC). In the 11th to 12th century it was the Capital of the Kanauj kingdom and was called Oudh. The region was later included in the Delhi Sultanate as the Jaunpur kingdom, and in the 16th century became part of the Mughal Empire. Oudh became subordinate to the British East India Company in 1764, but in 1856 was forcefully annexed by the British. Between 1722 and 1856, the kingdom was ruled by 10 Nawabs, of whom the tenth and the last Nawab was King Wajd Ali Shah, a generous, kind and compassionate ruler, who was a great patron of the fine arts, being himself a poet, playwright and dancer, widely credited with the revival of Kathak, as a major form of classical Indian dance. The Ahmedabad diamond that was in the treasury of the Kingdom of Oudh, was finally inherited by Begum Hazarat Mahal, wife of King Wajid Ali Shah.
In 1856 after the kingdom of Oudh was annexed by the British, King Wajd Ali Shah was exiled to Kolkata, and Begum Hazarat Mahal took charge of the Affairs of the state of Awadh, which then was a large part of the current State of Uttar Pradesh. During the Indian Mutiny of 1857, now celebrated as India's First War of Independence, Begum Hazart Mahal, joined the other rebel leaders, and led an army against the British, even taking control of the capital city of Lucknow. She then declared her son Birjis Qadra as the king of Oudh. Begum Hazarat Mahal's forces were able to withstand the onslaught of the British forces for over 19 months, when others elsewhere had already given up the fight. During this period she was able to kill six of the trusted generals of the British forces, including General Hudson, who was responsible for the killing of the family of the Last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar. However, when the British forces eventually re-captured Lucknow, and most of Oudh, she was forced to retreat to neighbouring Nepal, where she was granted asylum. Begum Hazarat Mahal refused offers of amnesty and allowances by the British, and chose to remain in Nepal, where she died 20 years later in 1879, and was buried in an unmarked grave in the grounds of the Kathmandu Jumma Masjid.
King Wajd Ali Shah of Oudh - the last king of the kingdom of Oudh
Begum Hazrat Mahal - Wife of King Wajd Ali Shah and a leader of India's first war of independence in 1857
The fate of the Ahmedabad diamond during and after the tumultous period of the Indian Mutiny is not known. To suggest that the Begum used the diamond to negotiate her safe passage into Nepal is preposterous and a figment of the imagination of a writer, a distortion of the real facts and insulting to the treasured memory of a valiant freedom fighter of India. The Begum and her seven companions including her son were granted asylum by the ruler of Nepal, Rana Jang Bahadur, who refused British demands for her extradition to face trial in India. The Begum never returned to India and died in exile in Nepal in 1879. It is possible that she sold the diamond while living in exile in Nepal, and used the money for her sustenance in that country. But, nothing is known for certain, and the history of the diamond has been as murky as ever, until its appearance at a Christie's auction in Geneva, in November 1995.
During this period of uncertainty, the diamond seems to have undergone a transformation from a briolette to a pear shape after re-cutting, with a consequent reduction of it's weight from 90.50 to 78.86 carats. But, an observed property of the diamond that seems to be of immense significance, is the presence of a minor flaw at its base, at the culet facet. This seems to correspond to one of the two small specks of flaw which Tavernier stated had remained after completion of the cutting. Thus the presence of the flaw at the base, seems to indicate the exact identity of the diamond.
The Ahmedabad diamond was put up for sale by Christie's in Geneva in November 1995.The stone was purchased by Robert Mouawad for a sum of around $ 4.3 million, and is now part of the rare and magnificent collection of diamonds belonging to the Mouawad family, which is arguably one of the finest private diamond collections in the world. The Ahmedabad diamond is the 8th-largest diamond in the collection. See table below. The current estimated value of the diamond is over $ 5.0 million.
Robert Mouwad's collection of diamonds
|3||Queen of Holland||135.92||D-color||IF||cushion|
|7||Mouawad Splendor||101.84||D-color||IF||11-sided pear|
|12||Star of Abdul Aziz||59.00||D-color||pear|
|14||Indore Pears I||46.39||I-color||VS2||pear|
|15||Indore Pears II||44.14||H-color||VS2||pear|
|17||Mouawad Blue||42.92||fancy blue||-||pear|
|18||Mouawad Lilac||24.44||fancy pink||-||emerald|
|19||Mouawad Pink||21.06||fancy pink||VS1||modified octagonal|
Please do not copy our tables without our permission. We may be compelled to inform the search engines if our content and tables are plagiarised.
Color in diamonds is caused by the incorporation of trace amounts of elements like Nitrogen and Boron-whose atoms have atomic sizes comparable to the atomic size of Carbon atoms-in the crystal structure of diamond. Nitrogen imparts different shades of yellow and brown to diamonds. Boron imparts blue color to diamonds.
Color in diamonds can also be caused by the plastic deformation of the crystal, such as twisting and bending of the crystal structure following their formation in the earth's mantle or during their violent ascent to the surface, millions of years ago. Brown, pink, red, and purple colors can be imparted to the diamond in this manner, the deformed areas in the crystal absorbing light in certain regions of the spectrum .
Color in diamonds can also be produced by exposure to natural radiation over millions of years. Green color of diamonds are produced in this manner.
Diamond crystals that are pure, made up of carbon atoms only, and without any structural distortions, are crystal-clear and are known as colorless or white diamonds. Phrases such as "purest of the pure," "whiter than white," "diamonds of the purest water," "top color" etc. are used to describe these diamonds. But, even these diamonds can sometimes show a faint bluish tint. This is caused by fluorescence. Such diamonds are only about 1-2 % of all naturally occurring diamonds. (type 11a)
Diamonds containing the impurity Nitrogen, which usually imparts a yellow color to diamonds, can sometimes be colorless. This can happen when Nitrogen atoms are scattered in the crystal as aggregates of 2-atoms or 4-atoms. Aggregates of 2-atoms can quench fluorescence, but 4-atoms cannot. Therefore the former is colorless and non-fluorescent and the latter colorless and fluorescent. Almost 98 % of naturally occurring diamonds contain Nitrogen. (type 1a)
Gujarat State has now become a global player in the competitive international diamond industry, in keeping with it's ancient tradition as the world's first diamond cutting and polishing centre, a position which it had lost later to centers like Antwerp, and Amsterdam, in Europe. The State seems to have caught up with other diamond producing nations of the world ,and is poised to reclaim it's former position as the leader of the diamond industry.
Gujarat State Locator Map
The ancient port city of Barygaza (Broach), on the gulf of Cambay, in Gujarat, was a major trading center in the 1st and 2nd century A.D. Ptolemy (90 AD-168 AD) visited this port, at the cross roads of trade routes to China, Persia, Greece, and Portugal. The items traded were gold, silver, textiles, coral, ivory, pearls and gemstones, and thus Barygaza became a centre for artisans, gem-cutters, and carvers, for over a thousand years.
In modern Gujarat State a major diamond cutting industry has grown up in several cities around the State, such as Ahmedabad, Bhavanagar, Navasari and Surat, employing a work force of over 800,000 people. Around 80%-90% of the world's diamonds are cut and polished in the cutting centers of Gujarat.
Out of all the cities, Surat, a city by the gulf of Cambay, ranks as the front runner in the diamond industry, and has become a hub of the global diamond trade. Surat is known as "the diamond city of India".
India presently exports over a billion dollars worth of cut and polished diamonds every year. The country has built up a reputation for the processing of smaller diamonds. The Bhavanagar cutting centers produce finished diamonds as small as 0.5 to 2.0 points. The Indian diamond cutting industry has gone into partnership with the companies operating the Argyle diamond mines in western Australia to process their enormous output of small brown and yellow diamonds, at attractive rates mutually beneficial for both parties. The economic viability of these mines have been ensured by this partnership, and since this partnership the manufacture of diamonds in India has grown both in volume as well as value. Modernization of factories and the installation of state-of -the art equipment, have developed the industry to a level equal to that of Antwerp in Belgium.
You are welcome to discuss this post/related topics with Dr Shihaan and other experts from around the world in our FORUMS (forums.internetstones.com)
1) Famous Diamonds - by Ian Balfour.
2) The Great Diamonds of the World - Edwin W. Streeter
3) Precious Stones and Gems, Their History, Sources and Characteristics - Edwin W. Streeter
4) The Six Voyages of Jean Baptiste Tavernier - translated by Valentine Ball
5) Wajd Ali Shah - From Wikipedia,the free encyclopedia
6) Begum Hazrat Mahal - From Wikipedia,the free encyclopedia
Dr Shihaan Larif
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