Diamond is a stone for which people have cheated, lied, stolen, and even killed. It is a symbol of undying love and purity. Once cut and faceted, they become the most beautiful and sought-after gems. White diamonds are most prized, yellow or brown stones are imperfect, red, blue and black ones are rarest.
Today, South Africa is the world's largest exporter of these gemstones. Some of the most famous diamonds in the world are the Great Mogul, the Cullinen, the Jubilee, the Tiffany, the Sultan of Morocco, the Black Orloff, the Great Chrysanthemum, the Idols Eye, the Hope and the Kohinoor, or Mountain of Light.
Amongst all diamonds, is the Kohinoor that is sought by the Governments of two countries and numerous other suitors. It is uncertain whether the Kohinoor and the Great Moghul were the same or are two separate stones. It is said that the Kohinoor was discovered in the mines of Golconda in Central India. The uncut Kohinoor weighed a massive 240 carats.
The first owner of Kohinoor was the Rajah of Malwa. 200 years later it was claimed by Sultan Babar, the first Mogul Emperor in India. He passed it to successive generations of Mogul rulers, including Shah Jahan, the builder of one the Seven Wonders of the World, The Taj Mahal. When Nadir Shah of Persia annexed Delhi in early 1700s, he seized the great gem.
The controversy regarding the Kohinoor begins when the British invaded India. In 1851, when the British were truly well entrenched in India, the Chief Commissioner of the Punjab Province acquired the diamond. He dispatched the Kohinoor to Queen Victoria who decided to display it at the Crystal Palace Exhibition.
While it was on display the Queen realized that if the humongous gem was re-cut it would look even more magnificent. It was promptly re-cut to a size of 105.62 carats. Today it is the prime gem in Queen Elizabeth's crown and resides in the Tower of London.
Another twist to the tale is in the curse on all those who come in contact with it. The Shah of Persia died in a palace revolt, defending his treasures, including Kohinoor. Most Indian empires that came into power suffered misfortune and misery, including Ranjit Singh, whose 8 descendants were unable to produce heirs and his royal line eventually wiped out.
The British overran the region with the support of Kharak Singh, but he himself died after one year of rule. After this Duleep Singh, the son of Ranjit Singh came into power. Subsequently he went into a war against the British, which he badly lost. According to the conditions of the peace treaty the Kohinoor was to be handed over to the British.
Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth both wore the Kohinoor and neither of them fell prey to any misfortune. On the contrary, Queen Victoria's status improved on acquiring the diamond and on January 1, 1877 she became the Empress of India.
There have been rumors that both the Indian and British Governments would sit and decide the fate of the Kohinoor. But nothing seems to have come of it. There are several individuals of both British and Indian descent who claim to be descendants of Maharaja Duleep Singh. They have been vociferously claiming that the Kohinoor be handed over to them.
In a visit to India in 2013, the then British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameroon stated that it would be illogical to return the diamond and emphasized that he did not believe in 'returnism'. As of now the diamond seems safe in the crown of the Queen of Great Britain, but only time will tell if this is its final resting place.