The Orlov Diamond is one of the world’s most famous and mysterious diamonds. It is a rare and unique gem that has a fascinating history and is said to possess supernatural powers. This magnificent diamond has been the subject of numerous legends and stories, making it a truly remarkable gemstone.
The Origin of the Orlov Diamond
The Orlov Diamond, also known as Orloff Diamond, is a remarkable gemstone that has captivated people for centuries. Its origins can be traced back to the Golconda mines of India, famous for producing some of the world’s most magnificent diamonds before the early 18th century. The diamond is believed to have been cut from a rough weighing approximately 400 carats, making it one of the largest and most impressive diamonds ever discovered.
The Orlov Diamond has a mysterious and fascinating history that has been the subject of many legends and stories. The diamond’s true origins are unknown, but many tales have been told about its past and how it came to be in the possession of the Russian royal family.
One of the most famous legends surrounding the Orlov Diamond involves a French soldier who stole the diamond from a temple in southern India during the mid-18th century. According to the legend, the soldier served in India during the French colonial period and was stationed near the temple where the diamond was kept. One day, he noticed the diamond and was immediately struck by its beauty and size. Unable to resist the temptation, he disguised himself as a Hindu convert, stole the diamond and escaped with it to Madras, where he sold the stone to an English sea captain for £2,000. Upon the captain’s return to London, he sold the diamond to a dealer for a reported £12,000.
There are also tales of the diamond’s supposed curse. According to these stories, anyone who possesses the Orlov Diamond is doomed to suffer misfortune and tragedy. Some believe the curse began with the diamond’s theft from the Indian temple and has followed it ever since.
The true history of the Orlov Diamond may never be known, but its mysterious past has only added to its allure and fascination. The legends and stories surrounding the diamond have become part of its legacy, making it a true treasure of the world of diamonds.
The Orlov Diamond and Catherine the Great
The Orlov Diamond has a special connection to Catherine the Great, one of the most powerful and influential rulers in Russian history. Catherine received the diamond as a gift from her favourite, Count Grigory Grigorievich Orlov, and it quickly became one of her most cherished possessions.
The as-yet-unnamed diamond passed through several hands before being acquired by the Count. First, the gem appeared for sale in Amsterdam, and then it was purchased by a Persian millionaire Shaffrass. Later, the diamond was purchased by Armenian financier and millionaire Hovhannes Lazarian, better known under his Russian name as Ivan Lazarevich Lazarev, who was the intermediary between Orlov and Shaffrass in the purchase of the diamond.
Grigory Grigorievich Orlov and Catherine the Great had been romantically involved for many years. Their relationship produced an illegitimate child, but Catherine eventually forsook Orlov for Count Grigory Aleksandrovich Potyomkin-Tavricheskiy. It was even said that Orlov presented the diamond to Catherine to rekindle their romance, as he knew she had wished for it. The gift did not help to regain her affection; however, Catherine the Great named the diamond after Count Orlov and had her jeweller design a sceptre incorporating the diamond, now known as the Imperial Sceptre.
The Orlov Diamond quickly became one of the most famous and valuable jewels in the Russian royal collection. Catherine was known for her love of fine art and jewellery, and she was instrumental in building the collection of treasures that became known as the Diamond Fund.
The Orlov Diamond remains one of the most iconic symbols of Catherine the Great’s reign. Its beauty and historical significance make it a beloved treasure of the Russian people and a prized possession of the Kremlin Diamond Fund Exhibition. The diamond serves as a reminder of the glory and splendour of the Russian royal court and the remarkable achievements of Catherine the Great.
The Disappearance and Rediscovery of the Orlov Diamond
The Orlov Diamond has had a tumultuous history, including a period of disappearance and subsequent rediscovery. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the diamond was taken from the Russian royal family and passed through various hands. For many years, the diamond’s whereabouts were unknown, and it was feared that it had been lost or destroyed.
In 1922, the Bolsheviks established the State Diamond Fund, which was responsible for safeguarding Russia’s collection of precious gems and jewellery. However, the Orlov Diamond was not among the items listed in the fund’s inventory, leading to speculation that it had been stolen or sold.
In 1925, the Orlov Diamond was finally rediscovered. It was found in the Kremlin Armory, where it had been hidden in a secret vault. The diamond was intact and undamaged, but it had been removed from its original setting. The discovery of the Orlov Diamond caused great excitement and relief among those who had feared that it had been lost forever. The diamond was placed in a new setting and added to the State Diamond Fund’s collection.
Today, the Orlov Diamond is one of the world’s most famous and valuable gems. It is part of the Diamond Fund Exhibition in the Moscow Kremlin, where it is displayed alongside other magnificent treasures from Russia’s royal past. The diamond’s history of disappearance and rediscovery only adds to its mystique and allure, making it a beloved symbol of Russian culture and history.
The Orlov Diamond Characteristics
The Orlov Diamond is one of the largest diamonds in the world. It features a Mughal cut, which is a native Indian cut following the shape of the rough with a large flat base and dome-shaped crown formed by triangular facets. The diamond has a slightly curved surface, giving it a slightly convex appearance. This feature is a result of the diamond’s original shape. The Orlov Diamond weighs 189.62 carats (37.924 g) and measures 32 mm x 35 mm x 21 mm.
The diamond’s colour and clarity are also exceptional, making it a true wonder of nature. It is a white diamond with a blue-green tint and remarkable clarity, with only a few slight inclusions visible under magnification.
The Orlov Diamond’s size and beauty make it a rare and unique gemstone. It is one of the largest diamonds in the world, and its colour and clarity make it a truly exceptional gem.
The Value and Significance of the Orlov Diamond
From a financial standpoint, the value of the Orlov Diamond is difficult to determine due to its historical significance and unique qualities. The diamond’s weight, clarity, and colour are all factors that contribute to its value, as well as its provenance and association with historical figures.
In terms of cultural value, the Orlov Diamond is an important part of Russia’s national heritage. Its history and legends have captured the imaginations of people around the world, and it has become a symbol of the country’s rich cultural traditions.
The Orlov Diamond has also played a significant role in the history of diamond cutting and polishing. It was one of the largest and most complex diamonds of its time, and its cutting and polishing required great skill and expertise. The techniques used to cut and polish the diamond have become the basis for many modern diamond-cutting methods, making the Orlov Diamond an important piece of history in the diamond industry.
In addition, the Orlov Diamond has been featured in various works of art, literature, and film. It has inspired writers, artists, and filmmakers around the world, and its image has been used in many cultural and commercial contexts.
Overall, the Orlov Diamond is a valuable and significant part of Russia’s cultural heritage and a symbol of the diamond industry’s rich history. Its continued presence in the Diamond Fund Exhibition ensures that it will continue to be admired and appreciated by future generations.
Featured image: Elkan Wijnberg / Wikimedia Commons