The Koh-I-Noor or Kohinoor as it is popularly called, is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world. Weighing in at an astonishing 195.6 carats, the Kohinoor diamond is variously described as colourless or finest white. Believed to have been mined in India’s Kollur Mone or in one of the mines of Golkonda, sometime during the 1300’s, this amazing diamond was an incredible 793 carats before its first cutting. While in the hands of the Kakatiya Dynasty, the diamond weighed in at 186 carats. England’s Consort Prince Albert had it cut down to its present size in order to increase its brilliance. Kohinoor is Persian for ‘mountain light’.
Probably because its history involves a great deal of fighting between men, the Kohinoor acquired a reputation within the British Royal family for bringing bad luck to any man who wears it. Since arriving in the UK, it has only been worn by female members of the family. Queen Victoria wore the stone in a brooch and a circlet. After she died in 1901, it was set in the Crown of Queen Alexandra, wife of Edward VII. It was then transferred to the Crown of Queen Mary in 1911, and finally to the Crown of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother in 1937.
Today, the diamond is on public display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London, where it is seen by millions of visitors each year. The Governments of India and Pakistan have both claimed rightful ownership of the Kohinoor diamond and demanded its return ever since the two countries gained independence from the UK in 1947. The British Government insists the gem was obtained legally under the terms of the Last Treaty of Lahore and has rejected the claims always.