Golconda d'or Diamond

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Origin of name

The Golconda d'or diamond was one of a few yellow diamonds discovered in the famous Golconda mines of Southern India, reputed the world over for  the production of the highest quality colorless diamonds known presently as D-color diamonds. The Golconda d'or diamond was one of the last large diamonds discovered in the reputed mines, before production gradually decreased and the mines were finally abandoned. The name Golconda d'or partially reflects the mine of origin of the diamond but the origin of the second part of the name remains a mystery. It may perhaps be the name of of one of the owners of the diamond, in its long journey in history from India to Iran, Turkey, England and eventually to Australia.

Characteristics of the diamond

The Golconda d'or diamond is a 95.40-carat, emerald-cut, golden yellow diamond, re-cut in 1908 by I. J. Asscher & Co. of Amsterdam, from its original 130 carats. It was at one time considered to be the largest emerald-cut yellow diamond in the world, but today it has been pushed to the 3rd place after the 150-carat Siba yellow emerald-cut, and the 108.84-carat Anon yellow emerald-cut diamonds. In the list of famous yellow diamonds greater than 90-carats in weight, the Golconda d'or occupies the 30th position. See table below.

The diamond being golden yellow, an intense shade of yellow is undoubtedly a Type Ib diamond, whose occurrence is only 0.1 % of natural diamonds. The pale to medium shades of yellow diamonds belong to Type Ia, which constitute almost 98 % of naturally occurring diamonds.

In Type Ib diamonds the intense yellow and orange colors are produced by single nitrogen atoms that are scattered in the crystal structure of the diamond. These nitrogen atoms absorb visible light in the blue region of the spectrum, causing its complementary color yellow to appear. Rarely nitrogen atoms absorb visible light in the green region of the spectrum causing its complementary color orange to appear. Thus intense yellow diamonds including canary yellow and golden yellow diamonds are considered to be Type Ib diamonds.

In Type Ia diamonds the pale to medium yellow colors are caused by aggregates of odd numbers of nitrogen atoms in the crystal, such as aggregates of 3-atoms known as N-3 centers. These N-3 color centers absorb visible light in the blue region of the spectrum, but the color produced is pale to medium yellow.


List of famous yellow diamonds greater than 90-carats in weight


Name Carat Weight Shape/Cut


1 Incomparable 407.48 shield shaped fancy brownish yellow
2 Oppenheimer-uncut 253.70 natural octahedral yellow
3 De Beers 234.65 cushion light yellow
4 Red Cross 205.07 cushion canary yellow
5 unnamed 200.87 pear yellow
6 Moon 183.00 round pale yellow
7 unnamed 180.85 briolette yellow
8 Star of Peace 170.49 pear brownish yellow
9 Hope of Africa 151.91 cushion fancy yellow
10 Unnamed / Siba 150.00 emerald yellow
11 Florentine 137.27 double rose cut light yellow
12 Algeiba Star 135.03 square brilliant yellow
13 Sarah 132.43 cushion fancy vivid yellow
14 Golden Hue 132.42 cushion yellow
15 Tiffany Yellow 128.54 cushion canary yellow
16 Stewart 123.00 brilliant yellow
17 Meister 118.00 cushion yellow
18 Vainer Briolette 116.60 briolette fancy light yellow
19 Unnamed 114.64 briolette yellow
20 Unnamed 114.03 cushion yellow
21 Mouna 112.50 cushion fancy intense yellow
22 African Yellow 112.00 - yellow
23 Anon 108.04 emerald yellow
24 Rojtman 107.46 cushion yellow
25 Soleil d'or / Golden Sun 105.54 emerald yellow
26 Golden Door 104.95 pear yellow
27 Alnatt 101.29 cushion fancy vivid yellow
28 Sunrise 100.52 emerald yellow
29 Shah of Persia 99.52 cushion yellow
30 Golconda d'or 95.40 emerald golden yellow

Diamonds number 25 and 30 in the above list bear the names Soleil d'or and Golconda d'or respectively. Both diamonds are emerald-cut and yellow. There is also a similarity in their names in respect of the second part of the name. The only difference is in the weights of the two stones. While Soleil d'or weighs 105.54 carats, the Golconda d'or weighs 95.40 carats. It is not known whether both names refer to one and the same stone. Readers who may have any information about this are kindly requested to provide us the same through our "Contact Us" page.


The Golconda d'or diamond is said to be among the last large diamonds that were discovered in the famous Golconda mines of Southern India, before the mines were eventually abandoned. The weight of the rough stone is not known, but given the fact that the finished stone originally weighed 130 carats, and allowing for a maximum of 50 % loss of weight, the rough stone would have weighed over 250 carats.

Diamonds produced in the Golconda mines had become internationally famous for their exceptional quality. The diamonds were extremely pure, and colorless with a very high clarity grade. These diamonds were known variously as "whiter than white", "brighter than bright", "diamonds of the purest water" etc. In fact even today the standard for an absolutely colorless D-color diamond is a Golconda Diamond, and the term Golconda is used to refer to any D-color diamond of absolute purity irrespective of the source and country of the diamond.

Thus diamonds produced in Golconda and other groups of mines in the river basins of the eastern Deccan region of central and southern India, were famous for their high quality. In the history of diamond production in India only a few famous yellow diamonds have been produced. They are the 137.27-carat Florentine diamond, the 135.03-carat Algeiba Star or Mahjal diamond, the 88.70 Shah Diamond, and the diamond under consideration, the 95.40-carat Golconda d'or diamond. Large quantities of yellow diamonds including most of the famous yellow diamonds listed above, came into prominence only after the discovery of diamonds in South Africa. Originally these diamonds were considered to be of poor quality and people were reluctant to invest their money on them. The greatest boost for the popularity of yellow diamonds came in 1889, when Nasser-ad-Din Shah, the Qajar Emperor of Iran purchased a whole lot of South African yellow diamonds numbering up to 22 and weighing between 38 carats to 135 carats, on his third visit to Europe, and added them to the crown jewels of Iran. From then onwards the popularity of yellow diamonds increased, and today some intense yellow diamonds are fetching prices equal to, or sometimes higher than their colorless counterparts.


The Golconda d'or diamond enters the Mogul court

The Golconda d'or diamond that perhaps was discovered in the early 18th century, found its way to the court of the Mogul Emperors. This was also the period when Golconda was under their direct rule, until Mir Qamar-ud-Din also known as Asaf Jah declared independence from the Mogul Emperors and founded the dynasty of the Nizams of Hyderabad, in 1724. The diamond eventually came under the ownership of Mogul Emperor Muhammad Shah, who ruled between 1719 and 1748.


The Golconda d'or diamond leaves India for Persia

During the period of rule of Emperor Muhammad Shah, Nadir Shah the mighty conqueror of neighboring Iran invaded Delhi and Agra and sacked the two cities and plundered their wealth. Among the loot carried away by Nadir Shah were the famous Peacock Throne of Shah Jahaan, and several famous diamonds like the Koh-i-Noor, the Darya-i-Nur, the Nur-ul-Ain etc. and valuable precious stones like emeralds, rubies and pearls. The Golconda d'or was believed to be part of this enormous loot. The estimated value of the entire loot was said to be around 700 million rupees, and gave a tremendous boost to the Iranian economy, so much so that Nadir Shah was able to exempt all Iranians from taxes for three years.


The Golconda d'or diamond leaves Persia for Turkey

As was the custom around that time Nadir Shah presented some of the jewels and jewelry to rulers of neighboring kingdoms such as the Ottoman Emperor Sultan Mahmud I (1730-1754), the Russian Empress Elizabeth (1741 to 1761), daughter of Peter I the Great and the ruler of Bukhara (Uzbekistan) Abul Faiz Khan. However the Golconda d'or diamond was not part of the manifestation of Nadir Shah's generosity, but eventually in the early 19th century during the reign of Fath Ali Shah (1797-1834) it did become an important item in the exchange of diplomatic gifts between Fath Ali Shah and the Ottoman Sultan of Turkey, either Sultan Selim (178r9-1807) or his successor Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839).


The Golconda d'or diamond leaves Turkey for Australia

The Golconda d'or diamond remained part  of  the Turkish Crown Jewels until 1923 when the first President of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1923-1938) decided to sell the diamond to a wealthy Turkish family, who later in 1962, disposed of the diamond in London at an auction, to the Australian jewelry firm Dunklings, based in Melbourne, Australia. Dunklings put the magnificent golden yellow diamond on permanent display at their stores in Melbourne, and the diamond came to be identified with the exceptional quality jewelry produced by the firm, and became one of its symbols. This was similar to the Tiffany Yellow diamond which has become a symbol of Tiffany's the household name in jewelry around the world.


The daring daylight theft of the Golconda d'or diamond

The diamond was on display at Dunklins Melbourne until October 1980, when it was taken to Sydney for an exhibition. The diamond was displayed inside a locked glass case at the Sydney Town Hall, and became a popular exhibit attracting the attention of numerous visitors during the exhibition. Then one unfortunate day when the exhibition was still on, around 60 visitors were gathered around the $ 2 million exhibit waiting to have a closer look at the exhibit, and suddenly it was discovered that the priceless exhibit had vanished from inside the  locked glass case. This was a daring daylight robbery that took place right in front of about 60 visitors, and added another thrilling chapter to the history of unsolved mysteries. How the diamond was spirited away from the locked glass case right in front of so many visitors defies ones imagination.

Within days of the robbery the police in Sydney arrested two suspects, the underworld leader of Sydney, Michael Hurley and his brother Jeffrey, both of whom were at the scene of the crime at the time of the diamonds disappearance. But subsequently the police dismissed the case against them and they were released, as witnesses could not make a positive identification as their was confusion over Hurley's identity because he and his brother looked strikingly alike, like twins. Hurley however did not deny his presence at the scene of the crime. The theft of the Golconda d'or diamond remains a mystery up to this day, and the diamond has been added to the list of other missing diamonds, which suffered a similar fate.


Profile of Michael Hurley the chief suspect in the theft

Michael Hurley was one of eight children from a poor Australian family, who grew up in a single bedroom Pyrmont terrace. He dropped out of school at the age of 14 years, after repeating third class three times. The very next year Hurley took up his first job at Swift and More Distilleries, putting labels on bottles. Three years later at the age of 18 he took up a job at the wharves of Sydney port, where he eventually earned the infamous reputation as the "king of waterfront crime."

Hurley's criminal history dates from 1965, and in 1976 he served a jail term for theft. In 1977 he was again sentenced to four years imprisonment for another case of break in and theft. After the waterfront job, he got another job as a Municipal garbage collector, and came into contact with members of organized crime in the Sidney underworld, and his criminal acts and methods became more sophisticated. Eventually Michael Hurley earns the infamous title as the "Head Honcho of organized crime" in Sidney, a city of four million people.

Some of the organized crime in which Michael Hurley and his underground criminal gang was involved included the smuggling and trafficking of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy, money laundering , robbery at the Sydney wharves, falsification of passports etc. The gang is said to have smuggled three tons of marijuana into the country, and in the year 2001, 34 Kg of ecstasy from Malaysia.

Shayne Hatfield was said to be alleged head of this drug syndicate, and Michael Hurley and Les Mara are the other ring leaders. The source of the drugs like cocaine was South America, and the modus operandi of the syndicate was to recruit baggage handlers at the airport, and key security officials working for the national airline Quantas, to help in the smuggling of the drugs by Quantas Airlines operating between airports in Australia and countries of South America. The syndicate also got the assistance of corrupt officials in NSW police, in going about their nefarious activities.  The drug syndicate successfully smuggled 10 kg. of Cocaine into Australia in October 2004, and were then planning to bring in another 20 kg.

Police were alerted of the imminent attempt to smuggle a second quantity of cocaine by double agent RI 719. Police also learnt about the activities of the gang by planting listening devices in their homes and cars. But these devices were subsequently detected and removed, possibly after tip offs by corrupt police officers. They were even tipped off about RI 719, who was later confronted by Hurley and Mara when they met RI 719 and Hatield, at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where Hurley was receiving treatment for Cancer of the spine. Hurley said that a person who goes by the name of RI 719 was leaking information to the crime commission.

The Joint Task Force comprising members of the Australian Federal police, the NSW police and the Crime Commission, acted swiftly and conducted dawn raids throughout Sydney in May 2005, that led to the arrest of 12 suspects allegedly involved in the Cocaine smuggling racket, but two of the ring leaders Hurley and Mara had escaped arrest. They were possibly tipped off about the impending raid or intelligent enough to correctly guess the next move of the police.

A massive  international manhunt was launched to apprehend the two ring leaders of the drug syndicate, and stretched from Europe and South America to Canada. The police were convinced that both Hurley and Mara had skipped the country using false passports. Police also had information that they were planning to leave the country by a merchant ship.

However, it eventually turned out that Hurley who was suffering from cancer had not left the country after all. Hurley was arrested in Sydney in February 2006, after almost nine months on the run. Hurley's partner Les Maras on the other hand had managed to escape from the country and spent sometime in Rio de Janeiro and later in Ireland. He later returned to Australia where he took up residence with a long time associate Mark John Coughlan in the sleepy seaside town of Callala Bay on the NSW south coast. Australian Federal Police were tipped off of his presence in this little town, and they swooped on him and arrested him in November 2006.

Michael Hurley died of cancer in a Sydney hospital in January 2007, less than a month before his scheduled trial. On August 1st, 2007, Les Maras pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug. The judge remanded Mara in custody, for sentence on September 21, 2007.


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