Golconda D - Diamond

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Origin of name

The name "Golconda D" diamond was given by Lawrence Graff after he got the 50-carat brilliant-cut diamond slightly re-cut to its present weight of 47.29 carats. The stone was believed to have adorned the Pea Cock Throne of Shah Jahaan in the mid-17th century, and originated from the famous Golconda mines of Andhra Pradesh, Southern India. The stone without any doubt has all the characteristics of a Golconda diamond, and Lawrence Graff decided to name the diamond "Golconda D"

Characteristics of the diamond

The "Golconda D" diamond is an internally flawless, brilliant-cut, D-color diamond, with a weight of 47.29 carats.

The diamond being D-color is a Type IIa diamond, which are said to be "the purest of the pure" of all diamonds. The diamond is Type II, because of the absence of nitrogen or presence of nitrogen in undetectable quantities. The diamond is Type IIa because of the absence of all other impurities such as boron and hydrogen, besides nitrogen. Thus Type IIa diamonds are chemically pure diamonds. These diamonds are not only chemically pure, but also structurally perfect. Structural distortions in the diamond crystal can produce rare fancy colors in diamonds such as pink, red, purple and brown. Thus the "Golconda D" diamond is Type IIa diamond that is chemically pure and structurally perfect. In the absence of factors that cause color in diamonds, such as chemical impurities, and structural abnormalities, the "Golconda D" diamond is absolutely colorless, and said to be a D-color diamond under the GIA classification.



Laurence Graff who is said to have handled more important gem-quality diamonds than any other living dealer have always shown a keen interest in acquiring large stones that have the potential of becoming notable, as well as historic diamonds that had already become famous, that may surface in the market from time to time, after a long period of mystery and intrigue surrounding their whereabouts. Some of the famous historic diamonds acquired by Graff include the Porter Rhodes, the Idol's Eye, Emperor Maximilian, Sultan Abdul Hamid II, and the "Golconda D" diamonds. After acquiring these historic diamonds, Graff usually got them slightly re-cut and re-polished to enhance their brilliance. Among the list of large, notable and modern diamonds processed by the master cutters of Graff there are over 30 diamonds,  according to  Graff's official website. Some of the extraordinarily large rough diamonds acquired by Graff recently include the 603-carat Lesotho promise and the 493-carat Lets'eng Legacy purchased at prices of $12.36 million and $10.4 million respectively.

The "Golconda D" diamond was acquired by Graff after two of his associates in Bombay reported the appearance of the 50-carat brilliant-cut diamond, which was once believed to have been set on the Peacock throne made for Shah Jahaan in the 17th century. Graff initiated negotiations with the owners of the diamond in Bombay and was successful in acquiring the diamond. He got the diamond slightly re-cut and polished by his master cutters in New York, and the finished stone turned out to be a 47.29-carat, flawless, brilliant cut, absolutely colorless diamond, so characteristic of the renowned Golconda diamonds. As the diamond was believed to have originated in the historic Golconda mines of Southern India, Graff named the diamond "Golconda D" diamond.


Shah Jahaan's Peacock Throne

Shah Jahaan's Peacock Throne was said to be the most splendorous throne ever made in the history of mankind, and by today's estimates would have cost at least one billion dollars.Shah Jahaan was the fifth Mogul Emperor of India who ruled between 1628 and 1658. Under Shah Jahaan the splendor of the Mogul court reached its climax, and became famous for its pomp and pageantry. His collection of jewels  was perhaps the most splendid in the world. According to Nizam-ud-din Bakshi the chronicler of the Mogul court, Shah Jahaan was of the view that keeping his magnificent collection of jewels stacked away in a safe vault hidden from public view would not serve any purpose. The holding of such wonderful brilliants can only render one service, that of adorning the throne of the empire, so that his subjects could see and admire the beauty of these brilliants, besides elevating the status of his majesty as he shines with increased brilliancy. This was the line of thinking of the great emperor that eventually materialized into the most magnificent throne ever created in human history.

Tavernier who visited Delhi in 1665 during the time of Shah Jahaan's successor Aurangazeb had the opportunity of seeing the Peacock Throne, which he describes as having the shape of a bed or platform with dimensions of 6ft by 4ft. The throne was supported by four golden legs set with jewels, with a height  of about 2 ft. From the bars of the  frame of the platform rose twelve columns that supported the canopy. The bars were decorated with rubies, emeralds, pearls and diamonds. The twelve columns were decorated with rows of splendid pearls. In all there were 116 emeralds and 108 rubies on the throne. The outside of the canopy was made of enamel set with occasional gems, but the inside was thickly set with rubies, emeralds, garnets and other precious stones. The throne is backed by representations of two open peacocks, with tails gilded, enameled and inset with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and other precious stones. The eyes of the peacock were also set with diamonds. Some of the famous diamonds that were incorporated into this magnificent throne were the Koh-i-Nur diamond, the Akbar Shah diamond, the Shah diamond, and the Jehangir Shah diamond. Tavernier reported that even the great table diamond from which the Darya-i-Nur and Nur-ul-Ain are believed to have originated was at one time mounted on the Peacock Throne. The "Golconda D" diamond the subject of this account is also believed to have been part of this splendid throne.


Dismantling of the Peacock Throne

In 1739 Nadir Shah invaded and captured Delhi and Agra during the reign of Emperor Muhammad Shah. His forces plundered and looted the treasures of the Mogul Empire, that included the famous peacock throne, and diamonds such as the Koh-i-Nur, the Darya-i-Nur, the Nur-ul-Ain etc. The total value of the booty carried away by Nadir Shah was estimated to be around 70 crores which by current estimates would be about about $ 5 billion. After the plunder Nadir Shah was able to exempt the Iranian people from taxes for at least three years. In 1747 in the immediate aftermath of Nadir Shah's assassination most of the crown jewels of the Iran  were looted by the commanders and generals who were close to him. The Peacock Throne was also dismantled and diamonds, precious stones and gold that once formed part of the throne was stolen, and never recovered.


The Kingdom of Golconda

Golconda was a fortress city situated 11 Km west of Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh, in Southern India. The Golconda fort has a history dating back to 1143 A.D. when the region was ruled by the Hindu Kings of the Kakatiya Dynasty. The fort stands on a 120m high granite hill, previously known as "Golla Konda" (Shepherd's Hill) in Telungu Language. According to legend, a shepherd boy came across an idol on top of the rocky hill, which he delivered to the ruling Kakatiya King of the region. The King ordered the construction of a mud fort around the hallowed spot.

From 1347 to 1518 Golconda was part of the Bahamani Sultanate in the Deccan region of India. Between 1490 and 1518 the Bahamani Sultanate split into five successor states and Golconda was one such state. The other four states were Ahmadnagar, Berar, Bijapur and Bidar. The Golconda kingdom was founded by Quli Qutb Shah, a former Turkish Governor of the Bahamani eastern region who declared independance from the Bahamani Sultanate in 1518, and founded his capital in Golconda. The Bahamani eastern region roughly coincided with the former Hindu state of Warangal. Quli Qutb Shah demolished the mud fort and replaced it with a solid granite fortification that extended right round the Golconda hill and was almost 5 Km in circumference. The other Qutb Shahi kings that followed made further improvements to the fortress, built palaces, mosques, towers, minarets, parks and gardens. The fortress has 87 semi-circular bastions, eight gateways and four drawbridges. One of the gates is known as "Fateh Darwaza" the victory gate.

The fortress city of Golconda remained the capital of the Qutb Shahi kingdom up to 1590, when it was realized that the fortress was hardly adequate to accommodate a fast growing capital. A new capital was built a few miles east of Golconda, on the east bank  of the Musi River, and was called Hyderabad. This shifting took place during the rule of the 5th Qutb Shahi king, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shahi. The Golconda kingdom remained under the Qutb Shahis until 1687, when it was captured and annexed to the Mogul Empire by Emperor Aurangzeb. The region remained under Mogul rule until 1724, when Mir Qamar-ud-Din, the viceroy of the Moguls for the Deccan region, also known as Asaf Jah, declared independence and founded the kingdom of Hyderabad. Mir Qamar-ud-Din founded the dynasty of the Nizams of Hyderabad, and is known as the Nizam-ul-Mulk. The kingdom of Hyderabad became a British protectorate in 1798 under the Nizam Ali Khan, the 2nd Nizam of Hyderabad and remained so until the British granted independence to India in 1947. However the British granted full independence to the Nizams of Hyderabad in internal matters.


The Golconda Mines

The world famous Golconda mines was famous for the production of diamonds of the highest quality, with incredible transparency, whiteness and purity. Some of the descriptive terms used to refer to Golconda diamonds are "diamonds of purest water", "purest of the pure", "whiter than white", "Brighter than bright" etc. These diamonds are therefore Type IIa diamonds, which are absolutely colorless or known as D-color diamonds in the GIA classification.

The Golconda group of mines were actually situated about 40 Km southeast of Golconda city or fortress, at Kollur on the right bank of the Kistna River, west of Chintapilly. The diamonds found in the Kollur mines and other mines at Chintur and Parteal eventually found their way to the diamond market near Golconda city, which became internationally  famous, and the mines especially those at Kollur were referred to as the Golconda mines. Diamonds were first discovered in Kollur about 100 years before the visit of Tavernier to Golconda in 1642. This was in the mid 16th century between 1540 and 1560. During the visit of Tavernier in 1642, the Golconda mines were in full production with more than 20 mines being worked, employing over 60,000 people, and most of these mines were extraordinarily rich. Thus peak productions in Golconda was during the 17 century, and production began declining in the 18th century, and it was almost exhausted by the end of that century. The Qutb Shahi dynasty lasted for 169 years from 1518 to 1687. Thus the peak production period of the Golconda mines corresponded with the period of the Qutb Shahi kings, and they would obtained the maximum benefit out of these mines. While part of the diamonds found during this period enriched the Qutb Shahi courts, a significant quantity would have moved northwards and entered the courts of the Mogul emperors. Another possible destination for these diamonds would have been the Persian courts, with whom the Qutb Shahis had close diplomatic and religious ties. Finally diamond hunters like Tavernier and other other adventurous Europeans also purchased significant quantities of diamonds that eventually ended up in the courts of several European monarchies.

The period of Mogul rule in Golconda that lasted for 37 years between 1687 and 1724, also corresponded  with prolific productions in the mines, and would have undoubtedly benefited the Mogul rulers of the time. However, the period of the dynasty of the Nizams of Hyderabad which began from 1724 onwards, was the period when production in the mines started declining and eventually came to a stand still by the end of the 18th century. In spite of the decline in production in the Golconda mines, diamonds produced in these mines and other groups of mines in the eastern Deccan was sufficient for the dynasty of the Nizams of Hyderabad to put together a royal collection of jewels and jewelry, that was perhaps the most sumptuous and extravagant collection of jewelry in the history of mankind, which by today's estimate costs at least $ 4 billion.

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