Also known as: The Mountain of Light
Size: 108.93 carats
Where Did They Find It:
More importantly, when did they find it, and our best guess is around 1200AD. Some say it was discovered in the Kollur Mine of India, but 1300 was a long time ago, and no one really knows.
There’s quite a bit of history to this diamond, as you’d expect considering how long ago it was discovered. Originally it was owned by the Kakatiya dynasty of India, and we don’t know how to pronounce that either. But the Kaka-folks installed it as the eye of a Hindu goddess statue. Apparently this was all the rage, back then, because that’s how the Hope Diamond started life as well. Different goddess though. A Turkish warlord invaded the area in 1310, looking for loot, and left with a shiny new Koh-i-Noor in hand. (Translation: he stole it.) Successors of the warlord, who still possessed the stone, later established the Mughal Empire a couple of hundred years later, and the fifth emperor was the guy who built the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan.
Jahan had some family issues, and his son imprisoned him, although he was allowed to keep the diamond. Legend has it that Jahan positioned the stone by his cell window, so he could still see the beautiful Taj Majal via its reflection. Persian king Nadir Shah invaded a couple of hundred years later (we’re up to the 1700’s by now), and carried it back to Persia. (Translation: he stole it.)
Even more History:
Not tired yet? Good. Nadir was assassinated and the stone came into the possession of (translation: was stolen by) one of his generals, Ahmad Durrani, who became the Emir (leader) of Afghanistan. Hmmm, can a diamond actually bring good luck? Ahmad’s descendant Shujah Shah, lost the throne but managed to flee with the diamond, back to India. But this time luck ran out. The local Maharaja forced him to surrender the diamond. (Translation: he stole it).
And the final history:
The Maharaja who stole the diamond went on to become the founder of the Sikh Empire. On his deathbed, he wished to donate the diamond to a temple and put that into his will. But after he died the British decided to take over the Sikh Empire and they chose not to follow the Maharaja’s will with respect to the diamond. (Translation: They stole it.) Not surprisingly, once in British hands the diamond found its way to Queen Victoria, who quite sensibly had it set front and center in her crown.
Where is it now?
It’s part of the Crown Jewels, and is on display in the Tower of London.
Why the name?
Remember the Persian warlord Nadir Shah who stole it from the Turkish warlord? (See “History,” above.) Well, when the Persian warlord first cast eyes on the diamond, he exclaimed: “Koh-i-noor!” which is Persian for, “Oh-my-Lord!” No, actually it’s Persian for “Mountain of Light,” which is the other name for the diamond. But we like our translation better.
The Taliban in Afghanistan think the stone belongs to them, because it used to be owned by the Emir of Afghanistan before it was stolen and taken to India. (That’s before it was stolen from the Indians by the Afghans, of course.) In 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron stated: “They’re not having it back.” So there.