Friday, July 17, 2009

Koh-i-noor Diamond

The Koh-i-noor is a 105 carat (21.6 g) diamond that was once the largest known diamond in the world. It has a long, storied history and, according to some legends, is more than 5,000 years old. We know for sure it has been around since at least 1526, which is the first time it was identified by name in writing.

For hundreds of years it was in the possession of various Indian Emperors and was even installed into the Peacock Throne of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (the guy responsible for the Taj Mahal). But in 1851, it was decided that the bauble would be presented to Queen Victoria, who immediately put it on display at the Crystal Palace Exhibition. After people expressed disappointment at the famous diamond’s lack of brilliance, she ordered it to be recut for a better display.

After it was cut down by about 80 carats to its current 108.93 size, the diamond was moved from a tiara to the centerpiece of the Queen consort’s crown (used by both Queen Alexandra of Denmark and Queen Mary of Teck) and finally to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s crown in 1936. It remained there until her death in 2002 and was set in the Imperial State Crown afterward.

It’s probably best that it’s now locked up in the Tower of London, because there is supposedly a curse upon it that says, “He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God, or a woman, can wear it with impunity.” Do you think it’s a coincidence that only female members of the Royal Family have worn the gem?

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