Rare Golconda diamonds on sale at Christie`s

Last Updated: Apr 03, 2011, 10:41 AM IST

New Delhi: A set of ear pendants featuring a selection of the world`s rarest diamonds from the legendary Golconda mines in the Deccan region of south India will be on sale at the Christie`s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewel Sale May 31, the international firm said Saturday.

The diamonds, known as the Imperial Cushions - a pair of 23.49 carats and 23.11 carats Golconda Type II-A diamonds - are estimated to be worth 78 million HK dollars ($10 million) and 10 million HK dollars ($1.2 million) respectively, the auction house Christie`s said in a statement.

The occurrence of such Golconda diamonds with a clarity that is particular to the world`s finest Type II diamonds is rare. Type II diamonds account for only two percent of the world`s diamond production.

The diamonds, cut like cushions, do not come with royal provenance (certification), "but the cut shows that they may have belonged to a royal family", a spokesperson for Christie`s said.

Since their discovery 3,000 years ago, diamonds have been unrivalled in the mineral kingdom. Golconda diamonds have a degree of transparency that is rarely seen in diamonds from Russia, Africa, Brazil and Australia.

The cushion cut is seen in several imperial diamonds like the Koh-i-noor, the Agra and the Regent diamonds. In 1993, the Archduke Joseph diamond, a Golconda diamond of 78.64 carat, sold at Christie`s auction at Geneva in 1993 for $6.4 million. The Imperial Cushions bear a striking resemblance to the Archduke diamonds.

In November 2010, Christie`s sold a 16.72 carat marquise-shaped Golconda for $3.1 million. Other notable Golconda diamonds include Ahmedabad, a pear-shaped diamond, the Polar Star, a cushion cut diamond and the Indore diamonds, a pair of pear-shaped diamonds.

Golconda, an ancient ruined city in south-central India and the capital of Golconda kingdom, is located 11 km south of Hyderabad. The city, which developed around the 13th century Golconda Fort, flourished till late 15th century, before falling to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1687.

The ancient city was famous for its diamond mines. The diamonds were found at Kollur on the southeast of Guntur district and Paritala (modern-day Krishna district). The old fortress city was a thriving diamond trade centre which was fed by surrounding mines on the outskirts of the kingdom. In fact, the British were drawn to the kingdom for its lucrative diamond trade.

Some of the famous diamonds mined at Golconda and polished in the city include Darya-e-nur, Nur-ul-Ain, Koh-i-noor, Hope diamond, Regent diamond and Wittelsbach diamond.