The White Orlov Diamond

The White Orlov Diamond is another famous legendary diamonds that originated from the Golconda mines in India. While this diamond was not cursed in anyway that brought misfortune and ill-luck to its past various owners, this diamond had graced the Imperial Court of the Empress of Russia, Catherine the Great, who ruled Russia from 1762 to 1796, the country’s longest ruling female leader.

Hence, the history of the White Orlov diamond has its share of mystical associations, complicity, cross-border international politics, romance and the involvement of the Russian Imperial Court. Its tale from the Golconda mines to its final resting place were fraught with deceit, drama and perhaps some tales of murder, which may be conjecture as its story has been rewritten many times over.

The White Orlov Diamond is a 189.62 carat bluish white stone. It is cut in a modified rose-cut and its shape is described as in half the size of a small egg. It has concentric rows of triangular facets on its upper surface, while its lower part is cut in a four-sided facets.

The White Orlov diamond is one of the very few historical diamonds that has not been re-cut into the modern day Round Brilliant Cut. This distinctive cut, as well as the diamond’s color and clarity, make it almost certain that it originated from the famous Golconda mines in India.

Journey of the White Orlov Diamond

This is the story on the journey of the White Orlov Diamond, whether the events that happened are facts or from the fantasies and imagination of several writers, the diamond stone is still real.

Purportedly, the diamond stone was originally one of the eye of Lord Ranganatha in a Hindu temple in Sriringam in southern India. In mid-18 century a French soldier serving in India deserted his legion. To gain the confidence of the abbot of the temple, he converted to Hinduism. After years of patience, hardship and scheming he stole the diamond and fled away.  

Hard on his heels were the temple disciples, who would not take kindly to anyone who defied their God. In his panic the soldier sold the diamond to the captain of an English ship for £2,000. The captain then sold it to a diamond trader in London for £12,000. After passing through a few hands the stone was bought by an Iranian millionaire by the name of Shaffras.

Later, Shaffras found an eager buyer in Count Grigory Grigorievich Orlov. Count Orlov was said to have paid a huge amount to Shaffras to acquire the stone.

For many years Count Orlov had been romantically involved with Catherine the Great of Russia. He was also one of the chief plotter who led the dethronement of Catherine’s husband in a coup d’etat that elevated Catherine to be the Empress of Russia.

Eventually Catherine forsook Count Orlov for another Grigori Alexandrovich Potemkin, a Russian nobleman and military leader in the Imperial Court. Count Orlov was said to be aggrieved by this unrequited love. So Count Orlov tried to rekindle their romance by offering Catherine the big white diamond, whom he knew that she was very fond of diamonds. He failed to regain back her affections. But Catherine did endow him with several gifts and named the diamond after the Count. She had her own jeweller encrust the diamond into the Imperial Sceptre which was completed in 1774.

The White Orlov diamond is now part of the Diamond Fund collection of the Moscow’s Kremlin Armoury.


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