Darya-i-Noor: The Sea of Light

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    The Kohinoor is India’s most famous diamond. It is the stuff of legends, that has fired both ambition and imagination, in equal measure. But take a trip to Tehran and you will be able to see another, even more spectacular diamond the Darya-i-Noor. Stored in the vaults of the Central Bank of Iran , this diamond which is the largest pink diamond in the world, is far more valuable than the Kohinoor. It too has its origins in India. What’s more, while the illustrious Kohinoor is just 105 carats, the lesser known Darya-i-Noor is 186 carats . Almost double the size!

    A naturally occurring pink diamond is so rare, that its value is several times higher than that of a plain, colourless diamond. Just to give you an estimate, in 2013, a 34.65 carat pink diamond, that originally belonged to Nizam of Hyderabad was sold for a whopping $39 million or around Rs 200 crores. If that is the value of a 34.64 carat pink diamond, then just imagine the value of a 186 carat pink diamond! And we are not even considering the historic value of the Darya-i-Noor.

    The Kohinoor and the Darya-i-Noor share the same ancestry. Both were believed to be mined in the famous Golconda mines along the banks of the Krishna and Godavari rivers in present day Andhra Pradesh. Both, also seemed to have reached the Mughal court through the Qutub Shahi capital of Golconda. The earliest known reference to this diamond is in the journal of Jean Baptiste Tavernier, a 17th century French gemologist who travelled extensively across India and wrote about the diamond trade. In his 1642 journal, he mentions a large square pink diamond that he saw in Golconda and gave it the name Diamantia Grande Table or the ‘Great Table diamond’. From Golconda, it went into Shah Jahan’s treasury, though we still don't know how.

    This 'Great Table diamond', the Darya-i-Noor, was carried to Iran by the Persian ruler Nadir Shah in 1739, when he sacked Delhi, along with the famed Kohinoor diamond and the Peacock throne. After the death of Nadir Shah, it entered the Iranian treasury and was recut as the Darya-i-Noor. The diamond was a favourite of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (1831–1896 CE) who wore it as an armband, wrongly believing it to have been owned by Cyrus, the great Persian empire builder. Later Reza Shah Pahlavi (1878-1944 CE), father of the last Shah of Iran, used it as an aigrette or adornment on his hat.

    When the Great Table diamond was cut, a smaller piece was also taken out from the diamond and this became the Noor-ul-Ain diamond. This 60 carat diamond is the second largest pink diamond in the world, after Darya-i-Noor and is also part of the Iranian state jewels. After being cut from the larger diamond, was deposited in the treasury. In 1958, this diamond was mounted on a splendid tiara of yellow diamonds on the occasion of the wedding of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to Farah Diba. This splendid stone remains in its setting even today

    Thankfully, unlike the Jacob diamond and the Nizam’s jewels, which are gathering dust in strongrooms here in India, both the Darya-i-Noor and the Noor-ul-Ain diamonds are open for viewing for general public. They can be viewed at The National Jewelry Treasury at the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Tehran.

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