The Famous Shah Diamond

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A diamond named "Shah" was discovered in Golconda at the end of the 16th century. This is a large crystal octahedron with flat sides and rounded ribs; one of them is greatly elongated. It arrived almost untouched and whole, preserving its primarily shape- 15 polished facets, an exquisite example of an ancient Indian method of diamond cutting. Ancient Indian cutters always tried to preserve stone's natural shape. Therefore they only slightly polished the stone, preserving its natural lines.

Shah Diamond
Before the polishing, diamond's weight was around 95 carats. Today's weight is 88.7 carats. Shah diamond is impeccably transparent and clear, despite having a yellowish- brown tint , caused by excessive presence of iron in the thin cracks on the surface and inside the crystal. The stone has a unique distinctive feature-three of its facets bare masterful engravings. Three inscriptions in a Persian Language- various dates from an Oriental calendar and names of the rulers who owned the stone -were carved with a compelling technical perfection.

Initially, the stone belonged to the ruler of the Muslim Ahmadnagar, Borhan the Second. In Borhan's eyes the elongated diamond symbolized a pointing finger of the Lord, while its ribs appeared to him as the Tablets of history. So he decided to immortalize his name on the magnificent diamond.

An artisan from the Royal gemstone workshop covered the diamond with a thin layer of wax and with a sharp needle engraved the following words; "Borhan Nizam the second Shah, the year of 1000, hereby declares that in 1591 (AC) the owner of this stone ruled over the North Western Indian province of Ahmadnagar ". In 1595 Akbar occupied Ahmadnagar and the diamond became a property of the Great Moguls dynasty. For more than 40 years the diamond was guarded in the Treasury until Shah Jahan laid his eyes upon the stone. Shah Jahan was a skillful master of gem cutting and spent many hours in the cutting workshop, cutting and polishing the gemstones. An extraordinary, inscribed diamond caught his professional attention. The Shah ordered to add another inscription: "The son of Shah Jah Hanagir, Shah Jahan, 1051" (1641).

In 1739 Persian Shah Nadir conquered and pillaged Delhi. He transferred the stone to Persia where the last third inscription was engraved in 1824:"the ruler Pathah Ali Shah Qajar, 1242". These three inscriptions are reliable historical evidence of diamond's genealogy. The stone itself tells us a miraculous story of this, perhaps the rarest object in the world.

This diamond's history is inextricably linked to the history of Russia. In 1828 a renowned Russian writer Alexander Sergeyevich Griboyedov was sent to Persia on a diplomatic mission. Concerned with a growing Russian influence in Persia, English extremist circles together with their allies in Teheran, organized a mass attack on the Russian Mission. During the riot Griboyedov was murdered. In order to avoid a diplomatic conflict between Russia and Persia, a Persian emissary was sent to St. Petersburg carrying expensive gifts for the Russian king. The emissary was the son of the ruler Abbas Mirza's - Prince Huserab Mirza. Amongst the numerous gifts, the Prince brought to Nicholas the First one of the most precious treasures of the Persian royal family -the "Shah" diamond.