Monday, 19 January 2015

World famous Arcot diamonds of Indian origin - a symbol of regal power

Arcot diamonds,India.Tiaras.www.pricescope.com
Queen Charlotte,wife of King George III The Arcot diamonds ,en.wikipedia.org
The Arcot diamonds get their name from the owner - the Nawob of Arcot, now South India who ruled between 1761 and 1818 during the the period of rule of Charlotte of Mecklenburg, wife of King George III (1760-1820) and Queen Consort of the United Kingdom. The Nawob were the official  agents of the Delhi Mughal empire in the Carnatic region from 1692 to 1744. They were more or less independent rulers on their own headed by  Nawob  Anwaruddin Muhammad Khan from 1744 to 1749. The ruler was under the spell of European influence initially under the French from 1749 to 1855, and subsequently the British influence became a key factor  from 1752 to 1855 in the areas of civil and military assistance.

The Nawobs of Arcot, the rulers of the kingdom in the Carnatic region of Tamil Nadu were reasonably rich and  had a large collection of jewelry and precious stones. In 1777, the ruler presented the one of the valuable diamonds then to Queen Charlotte as a token of the Nawob's loyalty and allegiance -
a sort of "Nazrana" in Urdu to the English Crown. It was an expression of gratitude to the British company for their timely military assistance against the French aggression  backed by their local Indian allies during their most tested period of their rule. However, the British were ungrateful to the generous ruler Nawob Muhammad Ali Khan Wala-Jah (1752 to 1795) when he was unable to pay heavy debts - the annual fee of military help - £160,000.00 incurred as a result of  military assistance provided by the British and for the restoration of throne and kingdom from Chanda Sahib and his French alley. To  compensate unpaid  heavy debts, the British East India Company, under duress, took over the kingdom of the Carnatic, forcing the rich Nawob royal family to become a mere titular ruler, receiving one-fifth of the total revenue of the State for the maintenance of his palaces. The British cunningly shared the major portion of the pie. A diabolical diplomacy they had been following since the take over of Bengal in the late 1700s.

    Arcot Nawob Muhammad Ali Khan Wala-Jah(1752 to 1795),India.indianetzone.com
The Arcot diamonds of Golconda origin (Kollur diamond mines) were made  of five brilliant pieces, out of which only the first two were of appreciable sizes, and were antique oval or pear-shaped, colorless or near-colorless diamonds with the larger one weighing  33.70 carats and smaller one 23.65 carats. 

In the late eighteenth century Britain's George III and his consort Charlotte received lots of precious stones and jewels from rich Indian princes and also from the greedy directors of the East India Company that they were dubbed them diamond eaters. When it came to diamonds, precious stones and jewelery, both George III and his consort Charlotte were greedy and grasping. After making a strong foothold in India and with the rise of their military power, influence and dominance  the British Monarchy began to build up a vast collection of valuable crown jewels. In this sense, India became a main source of valuable stones, etc. In fact after the acquisition of vast Indian subcontinent, India  became a perennial source of revenue for the once poor England. In reality ''India was the jewel in the crown'' of their empire.

Queen Charlotte  died in the year 1818 and her legal heirs, as per her will with respect to the diamonds, were her four daughters. Rundell & Bridge, who in 1804, were appointed jewelers and silversmiths to the Crown by King George III. However, after the death of George III, George IV, for some reason appropriated  the jewelry and other valuables of his parents.Ultimately the diamonds  were set in a crown for King George IV. The same Arcots were later set in the Crown of Queen Adelaide, the consort of William IV, the successor to King George IV. At auction the Arcots sold to
the first Marquess of Westminster, as a birthday gift for his wife  Eleanor  for a price of £10,000.00 ( June 20, 1837,19 years after the death of Queen Charlotte, in London). Eleanor used the Arcot diamonds in its original setting as drop earrings.The diamonds remained with the  family for almost 100 years. In the year 1930, 2nd Duke of Westminster, Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor saw to it  Arcot diamonds together with  32.20-carat round brilliant-cut and other numerous small diamonds  were mounted on the famous Westminster Tiara. 

To meet the financial burden incurred as a result of wars, etc the tiara was put up for auction by the 3rd Duke of Westminster at Southey's London. In June,1959. Harry Winston, the New York City jeweler, was the buyer of the tiara at the auction - £110,000.00, a world record price for a single piece of jewelry at that time. He later dismantled, the Arcot diamonds from the tiara (the original  diamonds suspended from a bar brooch after dismounting from the Westminster Tiara) reset them after some re-cut and modification on two separate ring and sold them to two rich buyers from Texas.Thus the diamond was re-cut after 182 years,

In November 1993  the Van Cleef & Arpels acquired the larger of the two Arcots, the Arcot I, weighing 31.01 carats. In the early 1990s, the necklace with the pear-shaped Arcot I diamond changed hands for a price of £918,243.00. Sheik Ahmed Hassan Fitaihi, the renowned Saudi Arabian jeweler, who was  an ardent collector and connoisseur of diamonds, was a successful buyer.

http://www.overabillion.com/arcot-diamond.html

(minor corrections were made June 09, 2015).