The rare 76 carat diamond mined from erstwhile Golconda kingdom, named after its first known owner Archduke Joseph August of Austria, was sold for a record price of €16.9 million (about Rs. 118 crore) at an auction in Geneva.
Christie’s, the auction house which conducted the sale, described the diamond as cushion shaped, colourless, internally flawless and of superb quality.
“It is a world record for a Golconda diamond and a world record price per carat for a colourless diamond”, said Francois Curiel, director of the International Jewellery Department at Christie’s.
The rare diamond was sold by American jeweller Black, Starr & Frost. However, the buyer remained anonymous. The auction house thinks it is on its way to a museum.
Archduke Joseph diamond shares the same lineage as the other two world famous diamonds: Koh-i-noor and Hope. The three diamonds were mined from Golconda or Kollur mines and left Indian shores many years ago.
“Some of the best diamonds of the world were mined in Kollur on the banks of Krishna river in the present day Krishna and Guntur districts that formed part of the Golconda Kingdom,” said Narendra Luther, who wrote a lot on Qutub Shahi kings, Golconda and city’s history.
Diamonds, Golconda and Hyderabad’s history had a special connection. Though only few were mined in Kollur, they were the best. They then were brought to Golconda city and cut and marketed. “Apart from mines Golconda was a big trading centre for diamond and gems in the east,” says Mr. Luther. With only India having such mines at that time, Europeans had this belief that diamonds were only found in Golconda mines. So much so that an entire class of precious stones that do not have nitrogen are described as Golconda diamonds. Some of the other famed diamonds excavated from the Golconda mines are Darya-e Nur ( the largest at 185 carats and the finest among the crown jewels of Iran), Nur-Ul- Ain, the Regent and the Wittelsbach.
It is not clear how the Archduke Joseph diamond reached Austria. Mr. Luther recalls how Archduke Franz Ferdinad had visited Hyderabad in 1893 and was a guest of the sixth Nizam, Mahbub Ali Khan. A German diary, which he got translated, spoke of both playing a game of shooting.
The Christie’s website explains that the diamond was passed by the Archduke, first known owner, to his son and later deposited in the vault of Hungarian General Credit Bank in 1933. It resurfaced in London in 1961 and subsequently at Christie’s Geneva auction house in 1993 where it was sold for $6.48 million.
Koh-i-noor is among the British Crown Queen Jewels and the Hope diamond is displayed in the Smithsonian Institute in U.S.
(With inputs from PTI)