Gems Manual Your Manual in Gemstone Education Wed, 19 Aug 2015 15:33:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Oldest Book of Gems Thu, 16 Apr 2015 09:36:16 +0000 Causes of my assumptions | The books dated XVII-XXI | English, German, French Books about Gemstones: British Colonization, Discovery of America, Travelers | Latin Books about Gemstones: The Dark Ages and the Brave Travelers | Greek Books about Gemstones | Oriental Books about Gemstones | Hebrew Books about Gemstones | Russian Books about Gemstones | Middle East and Asia Minor Books about Gemstones | […]

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The Oldest book of Gemstones

Causes of my assumptionsThe books dated XVII-XXIEnglish, German, French Books about Gemstones: British Colonization, Discovery of America, TravelersLatin Books about Gemstones: The Dark Ages and the Brave Travelers | Greek Books about GemstonesOriental Books about GemstonesHebrew Books about GemstonesRussian Books about GemstonesMiddle East and Asia Minor Books about Gemstones | Conslusion

Studying many books in regards to gemstones, I paid the attention to one curious fact. Practically all the authors borrowed the information about the gemstones from each other.

Curious, isn’t it? Thus, I don’t claim, that all of them are the plagiarist, I claim, in turn, that there is (or, more accurately “existed”) some ancient source, that contains the first mentions about gemstones.

Furthermore, we ought to admit, that there are plenty of the legends, myths and superstitions in regards to gems, that could not occur by chance.

Causes of my assumptions

First of all, I actually read a lot of books, beginning with XVII century, ending with XX century. Why didn’t I read the modern books about the gemstones. The answer is pretty simple — for the same reason. In spite of the information concerning new gemstones, these books contain no useful information, due to borrowing the information from the older sources.

And this applies not only to the modern books. I’ve discovered this fact in regards to all of the books from XVII to XXI century. Isn’t it strange? — no, from the one hand. If you’re trying to describe some certain information you have to use some terminology, especially if we talk about mineralogy.

Actually, such characteristics as hardness, specific gravity, refraction and other terms are the constants and just can’t be described other way.

However, from the other hand, I figured out that some authors (almost all of them) rewriting the texts word for word. But why they did that?

The books dated XVII-XXI

Formerly, the humanity didn’t possess such instrument as the Internet Archive or Google Books to check my assumptions. However, today we have. Anyone can check what I’m talking about.

But, nonetheless, let’s imagine any writer of XIX century, for instance. Yes, I love these authors, especially. You know why? They were much more intelligent, than the modern ones. And this is not about the “intelligence” itself, and even not about education. I’m talking about their position in society.

All these authors were the famous counts and lords, almost each of them was an honorary Member of any scientific society, usually of Royal Society, therefore, these authors were so famous, that they couldn’t lie, or, may be, on the contrary, they had to?

Ok, let’s forget about this fact for a while and try to figure out how they obtained the information. Thus, they came to the library, took many books of the previous authors on the subject of gemstones and began to study them. Of course, some of them, at least, those counts and lords had their own libraries in their own possession.

After thorough study, they became acquainted in such subject as gemstones and, furthermore, they had all the opportunities, such as: time, money, a maid, to create their own “book of gems.” The only one opportunity or, rather, an advantage they DON’T have — the Internet. And that was great, in a certain sense.

But which books they’ve used ?

The most interesting things begin here. There were only two ways:

  1. To read the books, written in their mother tongue;
  2. To read the books, written in Latin and other ancient languages.

Yes, the Latin language was the very big advantage, that those authors have used, in contrast of the modern Internet. Of course, the curious reader could claim “why didn’t you say about the Greek or Sanskrit sources?” — Yeah, he is right, however later about this.

English, German, French Books about Gemstones

This is not much curious to describe the books, written in their native language, however, there are some particular details.

First of all, we ought to admit, that many of these books owe their origin to several particular factors and certain events, namely:

  1. British colonization;
  2. Discovery of America;
  3. The travelers.

British Colonization

Why British colonization? — each of us is acquainted about East India Company, each of us knows, that India, along with other oriental countries, was rich of gemstones for the centuries. Thus, the British colonization of India, and the further processes, followed after it, were facilitated to the advanced learning of the “GEM” subject.

Such countries as Burma (modern Myanmar), India and Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) played a decisive role in the process of GEM education.

Discovery of America

However, the Spanish conquerors have played no less important role. American continent, discovered by them, was also rich for gemstones and gold. One of the authors, I can’t remember now who it was, stated, that Spanish conquerors broke too much Sapphires, in their attempts to check them for hardness, so, by the way. However, this is a second sources of knowledge about the gemstones.


Such travelers as Jean Baptiste Tavernier, Marco Polo, and others, were the third source of the knowledge in regards to the gemstones. At least 85% of authors are referred to Tavernier in their treatises. These authors were the first, who’ve seen many of splendid gemstones with their own eyes. But how did they learn about the existence of gems, and who’ve directed them in the right direction?

Latin Books about Gemstones

Here we come to starting point in our travel in the “world of the books of gems.” Why did I mention about the authors of XIX century? — I’ll repeat, they’ve had one invaluable advantage, in comparison with us, they knew Latin and Greek languages. So, let’s start with Latin.

Latin — is a “dead language,” from one hand, however, it is an actual language, in regards to medieval knowledge about the gems, from the other hand. Furthermore, it was a transitional language between the ancients and modern languages.

It is worth noting that the first book in regards to gemstones, written in English, was “Lapidary or, The History of Pretious Stones,” written by Thomas Nicols and published in 1652. Exactly the information from this book was rewritten and published in the several subsequent books, belonging to the authors of XVII and XVIII centuries, particularly with regard to the superstitions concerning the gems, known now as the “magical” or “healing” properties of the gems. The authors of XIX century, in turn, rewrote those copies, although the genuine original, belonged to Thomas Nicols.

The book, written by Thomas Nicols became a symbolical “start point” for the subsequent “lazy” authors, who didn’t know neither Latin nor Greek language. But who was an informant of Thomas Nicols and other previous authors?

The Dark Ages and the Brave Travelers

Did you ever hear about Theophrastus, Pliny the Elder, or, at least, about Albertus Magnus or Paracelsus?

The first one lived BC, the second AD, and they both were the Greek writers. We’ll describe both of them later, whereas the second two have been the medieval authors, moreover, the alchemists, furthermore, they and many of their “medieval contemporaries” wrote about gemstones, especially about their magical and healing properties. But the best, is that we can check their works absolutely free, using Google Books, however, who of us knows Latin? — almost nobody, and, unfortunately, it really so.

What we can do? All that we can, just only find the translated versions of those treatises, thus, we could lift the veil of mystery, surrounding such subject as “the most ancient book about gemstones,” at least for a moment.

Let’s forget these authors for a while and pay our attention to the medieval travelers. Jean Baptiste Tavernier as well as Marco Polo were the famous medieval travelers, and they were so much famous, thanks to their treatises, written subsequently.

Thus, they were the first witness, who took in their hands the best specimens of gems and precious stones from the hands of the medieval monarchs, viziers, sheikhs, rajas and moguls. Exactly the evidences, provided by these travelers helped the medieval authors to write their famous treatises. But how they learned where to look for the gemstones, and who’ve directed them into the right direction? — the same question, isn’t it?

Greek Books about Gemstones

Let’s back to Theophrastus and Pliny — they were exactly those authors, who lived BC, who first told us about the gems, they also were, those authors, that have been cited by the subsequent medieval authors several times, in an attempt to unravel the enigma of origin some of the gems and, chiefly to define the origin of the names of the certain gemstones.

In regards to Pliny, he has dedicated an entire chapter of his Natural History for the gemstones, that indicates, that the ancient world was acquainted with the gemstones. Pliny provided many of the evidences of the origin of many gems, however, as we know, Pliny was just a collector of the ancient information. Many researchers claim, that Pliny is a term, under which, many of the ancient authors have been combined.

Theophrastus, in turn, was a representative of the ancient Greek school, and probably borrowed some of its information and terminology from such famous philosophers as Plato and even Pythagoras.

Nonetheless, there is one strange point, a certain discrepancy in regards to the Greek authors. How could they learn about some precious and semi-precious stones, if they’ve never seen them, due to the fact, that these stones could be found exclusively in the Oriental countries?

Oriental Books about Gemstones

I think, it is obvious (according to my opinion), that the countries, where the gemstones have been discovered first, are the “storages of knowledge” concerning the gemstones. That means, that there have to be preserved at least some evidences, that could illustrate the ancient wisdom in regards to the origin of the sources concerning the gemstones.

Unfortunately, I don’t know any of Oriental languages, moreover, I think that few of the modern writers and, all the more so, ancient writers possessed any of the Oriental languages. However, some ancient treatises, translated in English, have been preserved here. Such sources as an Indian epos Mahabharata could unveil the mystery of this subject.

Hebrew Books about Gemstones

Such source as the Bible contains the mention about the gems, that proving, that there were even older written sources about the gemstones at the both hemispheres. By the way, exactly the information, contained in the Bible, served as one of the causes to the origin of such term as the Birthstones.

I think, that the Birthstones is the term combined of the mythology, astrology, superstitions and religious sources, which subsequently has been successfully used in a successful marketing idea.

I, nonetheless, more than confident that the Jews also borrowed the information in regards to the gemstones in some degree. No, I don’t claim, that the Jews borrowed the Bible from the Oriental treatises, however, they’ve dwelled in the desert, how could they know about the gemstones?!?!?

Russian Books about Gemstones

Russian sources about gemstones are quite insufficient. Why the Russian, you ask? This is not about the politic and not about the sanctions. Russia, as well as India and America are very rich in minerals and gemstones, besides, Russia is the largest country in the world, as well.

Russia survived too many palace coups, revolutions and wars, that a plenty of books were destroyed, hence, just few books concerning gemstones have been preserved for us.

Nonetheless, the authors of XVII-XVIII and especially XIX centuries have described a lot of gemstones, obtained in Russia, especially in Siberia. Probably some of the ancient books about gemstones have been preserved in this country? Anyway, these sources could supplement our conclusions in regards to the first book, containing the information about the gemstones.

Middle East and Asia Minor Books about Gemstones

I’m not fully acquainted with the life of the Middle East, however, many authors have referred to the Persian and Assyrian sources in regards to the gems. I will not delve into the history of the Middle East, nevertheless, I’d pay your attention to two main points.

First of all, Upper Egypt was one of the sources of many precious stones, known to us. This country, more accurately, this region has been described by many writers of the different epochs, including Pliny and Theophrastus. By the way, Egypt is exactly that place, where the pyramid of Cheops and the Sphinx have been discovered, as well as the ancient language, Hermetic Philosophy and the tombs of the Pharaohs. I think that this is sufficient to assume, that it could be one of those places, where the first source, describing the gemstones, might appear. In addition, it’s worth nothing that the first papyrus has been invented exactly in Egypt, whereas the gemstones were found in the tombs of the Pharaohs.

The second point is that the Middle East hasn’t been under the influence of Islam all the time. Formerly, it was inhabited by other people, who had their own religion as well as the writing, therefore, many sources could be lost during the “Islamization of the Middle East,” as well.

Furthermore, the Middle East is close to the East, thus, it’s close to those Oriental countries, where the gemstone mines were in abundance, therefore, the gems, along with the knowledge about the gems, easily could spread from east to west, thanks to the merchants from the Middle East’s, that seems to me absolutely logical.


During my travel in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Egypt, and other Oriental countries, I’ve figured out (just for myself), that such ancient buildings as the Great Pyramids, Angkor Wat, Sigiriya, along with other fundamental ancient buildings such as the Mayan Pyramids, Teotihuacan and other megalithic structures are indeed very very old.

As regards to the Angkor Wat, it was built by the efforts of advanced civilization, for sure, just trust me, if not, check by yourself :-)

Why did I tell about the megaliths, just because they appeared at the same time with the gemstones, though, probably later. Many of gemstones were formed during volcanic eruptions millions, although, perhaps, billions years ago. Some of them are of celestial origin, such as Olivine, for instance, thus, the gemstones “settled” on the earth before the dinosaurs, before the “Noah flood,” before anything was. Hence, the science (or if you want the wisdom) about the gems has been studied since the prehistoric time, nonetheless we talked about the first book about the gems.

Gemstones are nothing but colored stones. The first inscription was made on the stone thanks to the prehistoric man, who’ve used the stone, in the cave made of stone. Some of the gemstones might illustrate their history themselves, just look at the example, presented in this blog post. Some of them, such as Alexandrite or Tanzanite, have been discovered just in our time.

I think, therefore, that the history of the gemstones was written throughout the life of all mankind, beginning with the inscription, made on the stone, using the stone, continuing with the inscription, made on the wood, using the first stone axe, ending with the modern books, therefore all the information in regards to the gemstones has been mixed, however, structured, subsequently, in process of time.

This blog post is just a beginning of my research in this subject, I hope that it initiated the further study of this subject. For the present I can just conclude, that I don’t have enough knowledge of Latin, Greek, Indian and Chines languages, say nothing of the Ancient Egyptian language. Furthermore, it just brings me closer to the solution of this mystery.

In studying any subject, the language is the clue. In the end of my first chapter of this “blog book,” I can tell one curious story.

Once, I paid a visit to Sri Lanka. One fine day, I was a guest at the “Full Moon Party,” which was organized by the locals. I asked the owner of the villa, where I was staying, to make a photo with the Buddhist monk. Later, I asked the monk, to show me his dwelling. The monk showed me his dwelling, where one book attracted my attention. I asked him — In what language the book is written? He answered — This book is written in a language, that existed before the Sanskrit! Who knows, probably there was the answer to my question :-)

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Magnificence of the Oregon Opal or unforgettable gift of the nature Fri, 03 Apr 2015 20:05:34 +0000 Opal Butte | Oregon Opal – What is it? | Stability of Oregon Opal | Conclusion Take a look at this stone. What do you see inside it? Probably you are observing a seabed, or maybe it is just someone’s aquarium? Actually, this is nothing but an Opal – a commonly known gemstone, more accurately […]

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Oregon Opal

Opal Butte | Oregon Opal – What is it? | Stability of Oregon Opal | Conclusion

Take a look at this stone. What do you see inside it? Probably you are observing a seabed, or maybe it is just someone’s aquarium? Actually, this is nothing but an Opal – a commonly known gemstone, more accurately so-called Oregon Opal, obtained from Opal Butte, located in Oregon. But how the Opal could contain a “piece of the ocean” inside it? It looks like the nature itself has taken an effort to create this unusual gem at the beginning of time.

Perhaps, we wouldn’t be able to find any gemstone, which could boast such magnificence and attractiveness from one side and such mysteriousness and inscrutability from the other side, which could be similar to the Oregon Opal.

Just gaze on it again. It seems like that the sunbeam helped to uncover the entire splendor of underwater life. We can enjoy the diversity of oceanic nature inside this Oregon Opal. There are the corals, the fish, the air bubbles of different colors, the sand, the rocks, — everything that the diver could watch.

First Oregon Opal

Take a look at another specimen of the Oregon Opal. Isn’t it an eruption of the underwater volcano inside it? Could you see the lava or botryoidal structure, or this is just the bubbles of caviar?

Our mind is drawing the unusual pictures, when we look at any of the Oregon’s Opals. But, probably, we are right, assuming that the pictures, we are observing, are the “sketches” of the creator of the universe. Let’s figure out!

Opals from Butte or Opal Butte Mine

Opal from Butte

The Opal Butte deposit, where the Oregon Opal first was discovered, was the private property in XIX century. In spite of the fact that the mines produced the diversity of the opals and agates, they have been closed, due to the lack of appropriateness of further development.

The gemstones, obtained on the Butte mines were in insufficient quantity, and, therefore, the mines haven’t possessed commercial value. Nonetheless, there are the evidences that some splendid opals from the Butte mines passed into the possession of private collectors.

However, subsequently, the mining of these deposits has been developed by the “West Coast Mining” company in 1987.

Oregon Opal – what is it ?

What is Oregon Opal

Oregon Opal owes its origin to the Columbia river, flowing in northeastern Oregon, whose rhyolitic volcanic flows were formed in the early Tertiary period, lasting from approximately 65.5 million to 2.6 million years ago, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The so-called “thundereggs” or “geodes,” in which Opal is formed, occur in amorphous volcanic glass, known in geology as a perlite. The perlite, in turn, eventually, turned into a pastel clay, whereas the thundereggs are found solely in clay area. Thus, the transformation of the perlite is related to the Oregon Opal’s origin.

The thundereggs, containing opal are quite rare, thus only 10% of them contain the opal suitable for jewelry purposes and only 1% of them contain known to us so-called Oregon Opal. Furthermore, the only small thundereggs contain Oregon Opal, whereas the bigger ones are usually contain the common Opal.

Such specimens of Oregon Opal as we seen above are quite rare, thus, each 220 pounds obtained annually contain only 10% of gem quality opals with splendid play of color (according to the data of 1987-1988).

Stability of Oregon Opal

Stability of Oregon Opal

The peculiar feature of the Oregon Opals, obtained at Opal Butte, is the extremely instability. Many specimens, under the influence of the sunbeams and dry air are beginning to crack, therefore the Oregon Opals are tested before selling.

This peculiarity is due to the existence of the water inside the Oregon Opal’s crystals, hence, when the sun and dry air affects to the geode, the water begins to vaporize irregularly, thanks to layering structure of the geode, whereupon, the crystal of Oregon Opal begins to crack.

Thus, the suspected specimens leave for 2 months at room temperature in a dry room. If these specimens don’t craze, during this period, then they are suitable for selling. Moreover, the results illustrated, that 95% of Oregon Opals, passed this test, are capable to save their resistance to cracking for years.


The Beauty of Oregon Opal

Our small research helped us to figure out where the Oregon Opal has been obtained, how it was formed and why it possesses such significance for the scientific and jewelry world.

Let’s sum up the facts, concerning the Oregon Opal:

  1. Oregon Opal is mined in Morrow County, south of the town of Heppner, on the peak height of 4700 ft, called “Opal Butte;”
  2. Oregon Opal is of volcanic origin, it occurs in geodes or so-called “thundereggs,” that are occuring exclusively in clay area;
  3. Oregon Opal has been formed in the early Tertiary period, that was 65.5 million years ago;
  4. Oregon opal is quite rare, due to the fact that only 10% of the stones, obtained at Butte Mine are suitable for jewelry purposes and only 1% of them possesses such magnificent play of colors;
  5. Many specimens of Oregon Opal are apt to craze, and, therefore, are tested before selling.

Take a look at the Oregon Opal again. Probably now you can realize how much time and effort the nature spent to create such distinguished and magnificent gemstone as the Oregon Opal. Thus, it’s perhaps a real “sketch” of the creator of the universe — who knows? By the way, the Oregon Opal, containing Nebula inside it, has been sold for $20000. May be this stone has been a “sketch” of the Creator, when he created the universe?


  1. Images: Thanks to Inna Gem – Your finest source for Ethiopian Opals
  2. George F. Kunz – Precious Stones (1893)
  3. Opals from Opal Butte – GIA

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“French Blue” Diamond or the “Tavernier Blue” Thu, 02 Apr 2015 19:46:14 +0000 The Mine | The Destiny of Tavernier | Subsequent Destiny of the”French Blue” | Conclusion French Blue Diamond or so-called “Tavernier Blue” it is a diamond of 793 carats in weight, which possesses a violet or sapphire-blue color, which has been found in ancient Indian mine, located in the affluent of the Coleroon, north of […]

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The Mine | The Destiny of Tavernier | Subsequent Destiny of the”French Blue” | Conclusion

French Blue Diamond or so-called “Tavernier Blue” it is a diamond of 793 carats in weight, which possesses a violet or sapphire-blue color, which has been found in ancient Indian mine, located in the affluent of the Coleroon, north of the Palakkad Gap, in Tamil Nadu, which has been purchased by Jean Baptiste Tavernier.

The Mine, where the “French Blue” was found

Jean Baptiste Tavernier - the traveller and diamond merchant

It seems curious, that such great diamond of unusual color as “French Blue” Diamond has been found in the different place, in spite of commonly known mines of that period, located in Neela-Mulla mountains, in the vicinity of the Krishna and Pomar rivers, where 100 000’s of workers and slaves were engaged in the development of these mines.

This was not, actually, neither these mines of Golconda, mentioned by Tavernier in his treatise nor Gani or Coloor, nor the mines of Raulconda.

However, it was exactly the same place where the diamond of 40 carats was found and was presented to Shah Jehan by the Persian warlord Emir Jemla.

Thus, where Tavernier has found (and later has purchased) such remarkable diamond of blue color, which later has been named “French Blue,” and which has been so gorgeous, that has obtained the family name of Tavernier?

The answer to this question is a trivial from one side and an obvious from the other side. The only way to purchase and transfer such great precious stone as French Blue Diamond, was to obtain it from the unknown mine and to deliver it by smuggling. That’s was an easiest and the most obvious method, which Jean Baptiste Tavernier could use.

The owner of the soil, where the “French Blue” was obtained, made the conditions for his clients, foreign merchants, such as Tavernier was, that have been similar to the conditions between rich diamond buyers and the King of Golconda, that came to his kingdom.

The conditions were pretty light, from the one side. Each merchant had to pay a regular fee for each worker, employed in the development of the mine. However, from the other side, one paragraph in the conditions meant the forbiddance on import for any stone, exceeded 2 carats in weight. Whereupon, all the remarkable, precious stones passed into the possession of the King of Golconda.

Thus, the only way to take out of the Kingdom any precious stone of high value was a smuggle.

The Destiny of Tavernier, after selling his “French Blue” Diamond

Louis XIV

Jean Baptiste Tavernier sold to Louis XIV 25 remarkable diamonds, including one curious diamond of violet blue color, in 1668, after his last visit of the oriental countries. That was a time, when this diamond has got its new name “Tavernier Blue.”

Louis XIV paid Tavernier an amount, equal to £ 100000 (in XVII century), for the violet blue diamond and other diamonds, brought by Tavernier from the East.

This money allowed Tavernier to become a noble person, who purchased a splendid manor and have helped him to spend the rest of life in his manor together with his beloved son.

However, the subsequent destiny of Tavernier and his son was sad. “French Blue” Diamond and other stones, obtained him from Asia, have played a regrettable role in his subsequent life.

Such untold wealth aided his young son to involve Jen Baptiste Tavernier into doubtful speculative deals. He had to sell his manor and other property and, soon, headed to the Asia in the age of 84. He was attacked by the fever and subsequently died.

It could be curious, that Emir Jemla died in a similar manner after unsuccessful deals with Tavernier’s son.

Subsequent Destiny of “Tavernier Blue”

After the “French Blue” Diamond came into the possession of Louis XIV, it was cut, and, whereupon, reduced to 67.125 carats.

Shortly after the disappearance of rough “French Blue,” certain remarkable Diamond of blue tint passed into the collection of Henry Thomas Hope. Due to the cleavage, the “Tavernier Blue” was subsequently reduced to 44.5 carats.

The disappearance of famous “French Blue” was due to the French Revolution, when the diamond, possessed the same characteristics, has passed into possession of Henry Thomas Hope, that leaves no doubt, that it was exactly the “French Blue,” which formerly was in the possession of Jean Baptiste Tavernier.

A cut diamond, which possessed blue color, was demonstrated afterwards under the name “Hope” Diamond, in 1972, that, actually, confirms an assumption, that the “Hope” Diamond has been obtained from the rough “French Blue” Diamond, which has been stolen during the complicated time of the French Revolution.


Nobody of us knows for sure the true history of the “French Blue” or so-called “Tavernier Blue” Diamond, however, the facts, provided in this article, seems to be obvious.

I don’t claim, in any case, that there were two, absolutely the same blue diamonds, however, each of us could make one’s own conclusion on account of the facts, described above.

All that we have, the only ancient books, that describes the events, accompanying the life and destiny of Jean Baptiste Tavernier, some sketches, that drawn in his book, and our common sense.

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Enigma of Koh-I-Noor Diamond Wed, 01 Apr 2015 09:21:57 +0000 The Legend | Medieval History | The Voyage of Tavernier | My Assumptions | Later History | Conclusion The history knows many famous gems, however, there ought to exist some certain “gem of the gems,” known to the humanity, and fortunately, it exists. It is known under the name “Koh-I-Noor,” it is a gemstone of […]

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Koh-I-Noor Diamond Illustration

The Legend | Medieval History | The Voyage of Tavernier | My Assumptions | Later History | Conclusion

The history knows many famous gems, however, there ought to exist some certain “gem of the gems,” known to the humanity, and fortunately, it exists. It is known under the name “Koh-I-Noor,” it is a gemstone of Oriental origin and it is estimated as the world’s famous, largest, and most expensive diamond, known to the humanity. This precious stone possesses a great history and it has been surrounded by the diversity of the legends and rumors, for the centuries.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce, the Koh-I-Noor Diamond, known also as “The Diamond of the Great Mogul” or a “Mountain of Light.”

The Legend

Koh-I-Noor in Indian Folklore

To describe such distinguished precious stone as Koh-I-Noor, we have to look back to the centuries and stop our glance at the ancient India.

India is an enigmatic country with a rich history, that possesses the biggest collection of ancient treatises, superstitions and legends.

Koh-I-Noor, being such distinguished treasure and splendid jewel, was first described in Indian (Hindu) folklore. Thus, according to the Mahabharata (ancient Indian epos), the Koh-I-Noor has been discovered by a Zeminard, in the vicinity of Masulipatam in the bed of the Godaveri, approximately 5200 years ago, during the period, known as the “time of Krishna.” This precious stone has adorned the crown of the King of Anga. However, the modern scientists determine this period as the time of rajah of Usejei (Ujjain), who reigned in Malwa and lived approx. in 57 B.C. and who known under the name Vikramadytia.

Medieval History

Koh-I-Noor in the possession of the Sultan Babur

Later, the story says, that the Koh-I-Noor has been passed to the possession of Ala-Ed-Din, who won it from Usejein, approx. in 1304. Subsequently, after the battle of Paniput, Koh-I-Noor passed into the possession of his son, known as Humayun.

The next owner of Koh-I-Noor became the Sultan Babur, who was a successor of the Mogul dynasty. The Diamond passed into his possession in 1526, after the conquest of Delhi.

By the way, in those days, Koh-i-Noor was estimated in 8 mishkalas in weight, however nobody knows, what did it mean. The historians refer us to the sultan Baber, who explained, that 8 mishkales were equal to 319,5 ratis (a Persian measure of weight), where 40 ratis were equal to 1 mishkal.

Later, in 1851, Koh-I-Noor Diamond was estimated at 186.0625 carats. However, many historians, scientists and jewelers of XIX century, tried to determine its actual weight, referring to the ancient sources. This diamond was estimated, according to the different data, at 187.5 carats, 186 grains (Greek grains), 173, 174, 175 grains, etc.

Koh-I-Noor in the possession of Shah Jahan

Nonetheless, there is an information that this gemstone has been only a part of a much bigger piece of diamond, which has been found in 1550 in the mine of Gani of Couleur, near Golconda and which weight was estimated at 907 ratis (rates) or 787.5 carats, which later passed into the possession of the Great Mogul.

This precious stone has been presented by Miriloma (the commander of the forces of the king of Golconda) to the Shah Jehann. However, Miriloma, in turn, was indeed the Emir Jemla, according to the sources of XIX century.

The Voyage of Tavernier

Jean Baptiste Tavernier - the traveller and diamond merchant

French traveller and diamond merchant Jean Baptiste Tavernier paid a visit to Delhi in 1675. It was a time of the reign of the King Aurungzebe. However, it is known, that Aurungzebe was a son of the Shah Jehann. Moreover, Shah Jehann was a state prisoner of his son, who had been kept in close durance for 7 years. Shah Jehann kept all his treasure, including the Koh-I-Noor, in that prison.

Before his father’s death, Aurungzebe sent a demand to Shah Jehann to return him all the retained treasures. Jehann answered, that he better completely smash all the treasures, using mortars (prepared for this purpose), than give the Koh-I-Noor diamond and other treasures to his son. However, Tavernier stated, that he’d seen personal treasures of Shah Jehann, but not the crown jewel. Thus, if Tavernier has seen this huge diamond, where was another one?

That’s why, many historians doubted, that Tavernier could observe the indeed Koh-I-Noor diamond, due to the fact, that Shah Jehann kept the diamond with him, in a prison.

After the death of Shah Jehann, all the treasures, belong rightfully to him, passed into the possession of his son Aurungzebe. Shah Jehann died in 1666.

Koh-I-Noor in the possession of the King Aurangzeb

There is an opinion, that Aurungzebe invited Tavernier to become an authorized person, to estimate the treasures of his father. Hence, Taverner, in fact, seen Koh-I-Noor and other treasures of Shah Jehann in 1665, not in 1675, 1 year before Shah’s death, thus he was indeed a first European, who’ve seen Koh-I-Nor in the possession of his actual owner. Tavernier described, thus, the diamond, cut in “round rose,” and 319.5 carats in weight, which was exactly similar to the diamond, which was in the possession of the Sultan Baber.

However, there is another opinion, that Tavernier has seen actually the Galconda Diamond which indeed was in the private possession of Shah Jehann, obtained him as a present from the king of Golconda, though it was another diamond, not Koh-I-Noor. In turn, the diamond, belonging to crown jewel, which he described in 1675 was indeed Koh-I-Noor diamond, which passed into the possession of Aurungzebe after his father’s die.

My assumptions

Les Six Voysges de Jean-Baptiste Tavernier

By studying many sources, concerning this question, I (an author of Gems Manual, :-) ) couldn’t determine why the historians and writers haven’t been acquainted with the original source of this story. Of course, I’ve described all the version, concerning the Tavernier’s travel.

However… if any curious reader will study “Les Six Voysges de Jean-Baptiste Tavernier” even in English, not in French, he will find, for sure, these strings, verbatim (I don’t want to attract Google Panda, that’s why “verbatim”):

“I met the King in 1665, he couldn’t leave me, before I’ll see his jewel. Nabob Jafer Khan escorted me to the storage. It was a small room, where the King was seated on his throne. Akel Khan represented me the treasures on two large trays, that were covered by the red and green velvet cloth, respectively. There were also three scribes, who made an inventory.”


“The first specimen, which Akel Khan has placed in my hands, was the splendid rose-cut diamond of 319.5 ratis (280 carats, whereas rati was equal to 7/8 of a carat) in weight, with a flaw in the form of crack on the lower edge.”

Later, Tavernier has mentioned, that “Mirgimola presented to Shah Jehan a rough diamond, weighed 900 ratis (equal to 787.5 carats), that contained several lacks.”

Further, on the page 277, Tavernier mentions the diamond mine, called “Gani,” where, according to his words, the Great Mogul diamond was found. On this page, Tavernier has described a diamond of 900 carats in weight, obviously before cutting, which was presented by Mirgimola to Aurungzebe.

However, later, at the page 305, he described a diamond which “was in the possession of the Great Mogul, who let him to study it.” According to Tavernier, this diamond was of 319.5 carats in weight (that was equal to 279 9/16 of “our carats”), that weighted 907 ratis (or 793 5/8 carats) being uncut, in addition, this precious stone has represented a shape of an egg.

Tavernier also mentioned, that he has never seen a diamond of such weight and size.

Thus, there were 2 diamonds. One of them was a legendary Great Mogul Diamond, described in the Mahabharata, which weighted 787 carats, and obtained a weight of 280 carats after cutting, and another one, know to us as Koh-I-Noor, which was in the possession of Baber and weighted about 187 carats. The last one, known to us, was estimated 186 carats in weight. Nowadays it is known to us as the Koh-I-Noor diamond, weighing 105.602 carats, which is described in Wikipedia.

Later History

Koh-I-Noor Diamond in its original Setting

Subsequently, a Venetian jeweler Hortensio Borgis cut Koh-I-Noor. Tavernier has called him “not a very skillful diamond cutter,” by the way.

After the occupation of Delhi in 1739, Koh-I-Noor diamond passes into the possession of Nadir Shah. Nadir Shah demanded from Mohammed Shah (the successor of Aurungzebe) to give up on all the treasures, that he possessed.

Koh-I-Noor Diamond in the possession of Nadir Shah

After the death of Nadir Shah, the Koh-I-Noor diamond was inherited by Ahmed Shah. Perhaps, the Diamond has been taken by him from the younger son of Nadir Shah, called Shahrikh. But, soon, the diamond passed into the hands of Shujah Shah, the successor of Ahmed Shah.

After the exile of Ahmed Shah out of Kabul, he became a prisoner of Ranjit Singh. Ranjit Singh didn’t care the destiny of Koh-I-Noor diamond, until 1813, when he forced Ahmed Shah to give him this precious stone for the symbolic reward of 25000 rupees. Later, the Diamond was worn by his successors Rhurreuk Singh and Shu Singh. Subsequently, the Koh-I-Noor diamond was in the possession of Dhulip Singh, until the annexation of the Punjaub by the British Empire in 1849.

Koh-I-Noor diamond became a property of the Queen of England after the East India Company in 1850, and, subsequently it was exhibited in 1851 for the general public, and has been estimated in the value equal approximate to $700000.

At that time, the Koh-I-Nor represented a diamond weighing 186 carats. Later, the diamond was cut by the Duke of Wellington in 1852, who reduced its weight till 122 3/4 carats.


I sincerely sorry, for possible inaccuracies in such subject, as a history of such a famous precious stone, however, the sources, that I’ve used to prepare this article are full of inaccuracies.

Just for instance, I can illustrate the inaccuracy, that I found in Wikipedia, where “the authors” stated, that Koh-I-Noor was cut in 1852 to its current size in 105.602 carats, however, such source as “Diamond and Precious Stones,” written by Louis Dieulafait in 1874 ensures me, that its size was 122 3/4 carats. I’d rather to believe Louis Dieulafait in that case.

However, there are a lot of interpretations of this story. And, believe me, my story is too short. I’ve tried to reduce this story as much as I could, ha-ha… otherwise it could grow in very huge article, that is unreal to read :-)

Thus, I’ve tried to illustrate the history of the “Greatest of the Diamonds” in this article. Actually, I don’t know, I succeeded or not. But I’ve tried :-)

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Causes of superstitions in regards to Gems Thu, 19 Mar 2015 20:06:46 +0000 Introduction | The influence of GEMS | Origin of the Sources: Arabian trail, Christian trail | Medieval Opinion & Origin of the custom | The attempts to prove | Conclusion Introduction Man is apt to endow many subjects with supernatural power. This custom was known during the centuries, particularly in regard to prehistoric men. Thus, gemstones have been always a […]

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Natural History of Pliny
IntroductionThe influence of GEMSOrigin of the Sources: Arabian trailChristian trailMedieval Opinion & Origin of the custom | The attempts to prove | Conclusion


Man is apt to endow many subjects with supernatural power. This custom was known during the centuries, particularly in regard to prehistoric men. Thus, gemstones have been always a subject of great attention. But what were the main causes, able to intrigue a man in such degree in regards to precious and semi precious stones? Let’s figure it out!

The influence of GEMS

Gems were known to the Incas and Aztecs, to the Pharaohs and Moguls, on the east and west. Ancient astrologers, alchemists and magi claimed that each gem is unique and is possessed with the power to predetermine the destiny, thanks to its nature origin, zodiacal influence and various virtues.

Furthermore, there were many convictions in the capability of gems to affect on one’s nativity, thus particular gemstone, could serve as a mascot, natal or zodiacal gemstone. Many researchers, thereby, can’t determine a real cause of origin the custom of wearing gemstones and, therefore, they can’t realize, could it be the idea to adorn oneself or the idea of talismanic usage.

Origin of the Sources

Arabian trail

The evidences concerning certain gemstones were found in the sources of VII, VIII and IX centuries, principally belonging to Asia Minor. The treatises were written chiefly in Syriac language, but later were translated to Arabic. However, later, these sources have been dated to XIII century. Nonetheless, there are the proofs, that these sources have been based on much older Chaldean original.

However, beyond all doubt, all these Arabic writers borrowed this information from the Indian sources.

Christian trail

Ancient Medicine
Christian “science of gems” developed in parallel with the world of Asia Minor.

Pliny stated very curious facts in regards of gemstones. His “Natural History” contains many of the evidences in regards of magical virtues of the gems, especially in the last two books about mineralogy.

Isidore of Seville have transmitted the ideas of Pliny and Gaius Julius Solinus and have adapted them to the Christian world in VII and subsequent centuries.

Marbodius of Rennes wrote his treatise about gemstones in XI century, however, Dr. Kunz mentioned that he borrowed a half of it from Damigeron (Evax) and partly from the works of Pliny.

Thanks to regular rewriting and borrowing of the information the final result always very distinguished from the original.

Hermes Trismegistus (or Egyptian god Thoth) bestowed to people the science called “litteromancy,” that helped to structure all the subjects and objects according to the letters of the Greek alphabet, as known from the Alexandrian school. Thus, the objects starting with the same letter have symbolized 4 elements, and being combined — a mascot.

Epiphanius of Salamis went even further, comparing each of 12 gems with 12 breastplates of the high priests. By the way, it were those 12 gems, that subsequently served a prototype of modern Birthstones, known to us.

Medieval Opinion or the origin of custom

Anselmus De Boodt Book

In the Middle Ages, the magical influence of gems has been established beyond doubt, but later, in the Renaissance period, when the science came to the fore, many researchers attempted to determine the origin of traditional beliefs.

It probably seems to be strange for us, but no one doubt in these times in the magical influence of gems, however the scientists attempted to find even if pseudo-scientific explanation of this phenomena. When, during the debates, some indirect evidences have been provided, it has been established, to considering any of peculiar feature of gems as a miracle.

Paracelsus, well known alchemist of XVI century, has endowed certain gems with talismanic power, moreover, he “invented” a name for this magical spirit and called it “Azoth.”

Anselmus de Boodt stated concerning the power of certain gemstones in 1609, that aroused an interest in intellectual circles of these times. He was a court physician of Rudolph II, therefore, his opinion couldn’t be ridiculed. Moreover, he described the medicinal power of some gems in his book.

Later, Thomas Nicols has listed all the magical properties of gemstones in his book “Lapidary or the history of Pretious Stones,” written in 1652. In his book “Faithful Lapidary,” dated 1659, he mentioned that all these gems, being a product of nature “can produce none other but natural effects, such as are all the ordinary effects of gems.” George F. Kunz stated that this opinion illustrates the prevailing opinion in regards to the virtues of gems.

Kunz also have noticed, that if you’ll gaze on a crystal of Ruby, Sapphire, Moonstone or Opal, you would definitely find some “magic spirit” inside it. However, it is worth noting that Kunz, thereby, deprives the subject of its romance.

XIX Century: the attempts to prove

Friederike Hauffe

In XIX century many attempts have been taken to illustrate the magical influence of gems.

One such curious (and quite serious) experiment has been conducted with so called “Seeress of Prevorst.” She was a daughter of Prevorster huntsman and was born in 1801, but yet in 1825 the “possessed by the devil” symptom has been determined for her. Her name was Friederike Hauffe.

Friederike didn’t respond to any crystals of porphyry, granite, or flint, placed in her hand, however, she has reacted to the crystals of Sapphire and fluorspar in turn, that relaxed her body, and produced a sour taste in her mouth.

Thus, the researchers concluded that the first specimens depressed her vital energy, but the second ones, in turn, stimulated the muscles and made her feel, that she could fly.

Diamond and other colorless gemstones possessed similar positive influence on her, arousing Friederike from a twilight sleep and awaken her from the trance.

Similar experiments were applied to her with Hematite, Spinel, Ruby and other gems, and all of them were finished with curious results.


There are numerous Medieval treatises, ancient sources in both hemispheres on opposite sides of the oceans, that describe us the unusual virtues of precious and semi precious stones. However, we have to draw conclusions, basing on common sense.

My savvy is hinting me, that all these sources contain at least a grain of truth, however, I can’t even suggest, which “remedies” have been indeed used by our ancestors during the Middle Ages and, furthermore, earlier. For instance, I can remember the case with the crystals of Tourmaline, that could attract small objects. This fact has shocked entire scientists society of that time, but today we know such usual phenomena as magnetism (including an animal magnetism, furthermore).

Thus, I myself sincerely believe in the great history of gems, the property, that no one will dispute. Nonetheless, I always thought that nothing in the world appears groundlessly, hence if we managed to find too many evidences elucidated such curious aspect as “magical and healing properties of gemstones,” that means that we have to admit the existence of “certain particularities” of these objects of nature and, therefore, to allow everyone to interpret this subject in one’s own fashion.

To prepare this article, I’ve used the books of George F. Kunz. His books could be found here.

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Gems Manual Launch Fri, 13 Mar 2015 15:26:24 +0000 I am pleased to report about “GEMs Manual” Project Launch! This project should help each consumer to acquire advanced knowledge concerning gems and stay abreast of gem’s world. The structure of this project has been developed to help you easily navigate in terms and categories. “GEMs Manual” will evolve rapidly, therefore you’ll obtain new and […]

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Launch of the Project

I am pleased to report about “GEMs Manual” Project Launch!

This project should help each consumer to acquire advanced knowledge concerning gems and stay abreast of gem’s world.

The structure of this project has been developed to help you easily navigate in terms and categories.

“GEMs Manual” will evolve rapidly, therefore you’ll obtain new and new information daily. For example, such intricate concept as “The Diamond” is not developed fully now, but, soon You’ll observe new subcategories in that subject such as:

  • World’s famous Diamonds;
  • Diamond grading (including the golden rule of 4C);
  • New article, containing an advanced information concerning so-called “Blood Diamonds” or “Conflict Diamonds;”
  • Diamond Cutting, polishing and much, much more.

Such important section as “Gems Education” will will be developed. Today it represents the basic knowledge concerning principal qualities of gems. But subsequent knowledge will provide you quality information to make you an expert in such complicated term as “Gems Jewelry.”

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