Saturday, 20 December 2014

Famous Nassak diamond - pried from God's eye ! - stolen from Indian temple

Like  most famous diamonds of Indian origin such as  Kohinoor, Hope, Regent and a host of others,  the well known
India's stolen diamond, the Nassak diamond.
Nassak diamond is a glaring example  or rather a poignant remainder of India's  past glorious  wealth  that had been plundered and devastated by the invaders from north west  and later by the British.
 Nassak diamond stolen from this temple.Triyambakeshwar
The  Nassak Diamond (also known as the Eye of the Idol) is a large, 43.38 carats (8.68 g) diamond that originated as a larger diamond in the 15th century in India. Found in the Amaragiri mine located in Mahbubnagar,  Andhra Pradesh,  south India, and originally cut  here, the diamond adorned the idol of Shiva at least from 1500 to 1817  in the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple, near Nashik (hence the name Nassak), now a big city on the upper Godavari River in the state of Maharashtra, India. 

The British East India Company got the diamond through the Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817- 1818) after defeating a local Pashwa ( Martha ruler) Baji Rao II and gave it to British colonel by the name of  J. Briggs. As a courtesy the military official handed over the valuable diamond to Francis Rawdon - Hastings, the 1st Marquess of Hastings of East India company  who led the forces against the Maratha rulers.  The semi-triangular Mogul cut diamond, then weighing 89.75 carat changed hands to London-based jewelers Rundell and Bridge in 1818 for 3000 pounds.In the same year they recut the diamond which now weighed  78.625 carats.  After  which it finally made its way in 1837 to Robert Grosvenor (the 1st Marquess of Westminster)'s dress sword.

The Nassak Diamond, that was taken to the United States in 1927, was  then considered one of the first best 24 great diamonds of the world by 1930. In the US the diamond was a subject of litigation over imposition of  import duty tax of 20% and funnily during that period  two failed robbery  attempts had been made by the gangs to get the diamonds. American jeweler Harry Winston acquired the Nassak Diamond in 1940 in Paris, France and recut it to its present flawless 43.38 carats (8.68 g) emerald cut shape. Later it changed a few hands  and  it was last sold at an auction in New York in 1970 to Edward J. Hand, a 48-year old trucking firm executive for $ 500,000.00 (roughly equal to $3.04 million in the 1070s), a large sum in those days.  Richard Burton, the famous British actor  paid the highest price for the Taylor-Burton diamond - $1.1 million for his wife Elizabeth Taylor, well-known Hollywood actress and legend only  year earlier and it was the first million dollar deal for a diamond - a piece of compacted, superheated carbon in the bowels of Earth.

The name Idol's Eye seems to indicate the origin of the diamond, which is believed to have been stolen from the eye of a Hindu idol belonging to a sacred Hindu temple in  western India. Other diamonds which were believed to have had similar origins were the Orlov and the Hope diamonds. The latter  particularly became not only famous but also notorious, as it was believed, that a  nasty curse was placed on the diamond by the priests of the Hindu Temple, from where the diamond was stolen.
The Idol's Eye diamond is a, colorless diamond with a slightly bluish tinge, typical of diamonds originating from the Golconda Mines in South India.

Diamond, Once an Idol's Eye, Sold for $500,000". New York Times. 17 April 1970. p.32. Retrieved 14 November 2008.

Sucher, Scott (2006). "Nassak". Archived from the original on  December 01, 2008. Retrieved 15 November 2008. "The dimension estimate was derived from GemCad modeling."