Rock & Ruler: Golconda’s Trail of Diamonds – by Amrita Amesur (Sarmaya – June 17, 2021)

What the chain of diamonds trickling from the marketplaces of Golconda tells us about the dynasties that branded and traded, and won and lost them

When it comes to diamonds, they say, nothing surpasses Golconda. Before the current problematic era of Blood diamonds, Golconda’s rocks shone the brightest. The only known source of the stone till the early 18th century, the mines of Golconda produced diamonds unparalleled in their ability to spawn legends and bewitch the beholder.

These mines put the gem on the world map and marked India as the original home of the adamas, the Greek root word for this indestructible jewel. For this reason, Golconda’s ancient mines, pre-dating dynasties of the last two millennia, were a source of wealth and influence for the powers that controlled them through the ages.

From the dark depths of Golconda came the most famous rocks on earth: the Dresden Green (Germany), the colourless Orlov (Russia), the Blue Hope (United States) not to mention the contentious Koh-i-Noor (United Kingdom), which once graced Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s magnificent peacock throne, and its sister, the stunning pink Dariya-i-Noor (Iran). As these diamonds passed from hand to hand, stopping along the way with various Telugu dynastic rulers, Turko-Mongol sultanates and foreign imperial colonists, the fortunes of the empires too rose and fell.

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