Lot 147. 'The Pink Golconda Diamond', A light pink Type IIa diamond of 10.46 carats and diamond ring, JAR. Estimate USD 1,500,000 - USD 2,500,000. Price realised USD 1,695,000. © Christie's Image Ltd 2019
Oval brilliant-cut light pink diamond of 10.46 carats, single-cut diamonds, blackened gold, ring size 4 ½, signed JAR, Paris, pink JAR case.
GIA, 2019, report no. 2115073049: 10.46 carats, Light Pink, natural color, VVS1 clarity, potentially Internally Flawless, Type IIa.
Gübelin, 2009, report no. 0909069: 10.46 carats, Light Orangy-Pink, natural color, Internally Flawless, Type IIa, appendix and 'Golconda' letter.
Provenance: Sotheby's, New York, 9 December 2010, lot 467 (colored diamond).
Literature: Jaffer 2013, p. 381, no. 127.
Exhibited: Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2015, p. 48, no. 9
The Miho Museum, Koka 2016, p. 176, no. 138
Grand Palais, Paris 2017, p. 38, no. 9
The Doge’s Palace, Venice 2017, p. 50, no. 4
The Palace Museum, Beijing 2018, p. 58, no. 5
de Young Legion of Honor, San Francisco 2018, p. 170, no. 5.
Note: First discovered in 400 BC, Golconda represents the ancient diamond fields of India, the world’s earliest and richest diamond mines. A broad area extending nearly one thousand miles in the north-south direction along the eastern half of the nation, this diamond belt comprised five distinct districts, each separated by high terrain. Each district had its own name. Of these, the most famous is the one called Golconda. Comprising the Kistna and Godaviri valleys, the Golconda district centered around the trading capital. Indeed, Golconda yielded the world’s most beautiful and illustrious diamonds including the Koh-i-noor, now part of the British Crown Jewels, mounted in the late Queen Mother’s crown, in The Royal Collection at the Tower of London; the Regent, considered the finest diamond in the French Crown Jewels, at the Musée du Louvre in Paris; and the Hope, gifted by Harry Winston to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.
Little is recorded of the very early days of diamond mining in India. The older history is told by the earth itself as geologists have unraveled the scientific mysteries regarding the origin of the deposits. The more recent history of the area is found in the writings of Jean Baptist Tavernier. Tavernier journeyed to Persia and India six times between 1630 and 1668, and chronicled in great detail his visits to the Indian diamond mines. According to Tavernier, diamond mining in the Golconda district grew at an explosive rate in the mid seventeenth-century. At the Kollur mine alone, the most prestigious among the local mines, 60,000 diggers and washers were employed where the vast majority of diamonds found were from alluvial deposits. Alluvial deposits are secondary deposits formed by the breakdown of older rocks by natural forces. Nature tends to gather heavier particles and pebbles, including diamonds, into river beds where very little remains of the “parent” rocks that originally contained the diamonds. These rocks, called kimberlites, formed one hundred miles below the earth’s crust and were pushed up to the surface by violent volcanic action. In time, the kimberlites disintegrated, leaving behind the hard and durable diamond crystals which were originally imbedded in them.
For about two thousand years, India remained the world’s only source of diamonds. The second earliest known source is Borneo during the tenth century. When the Indian deposits came close to depletion, alluvial sources were discovered in Brazil in 1725. A century and a half later, when the Brazilian mines were largely exhausted, alluvial deposits were found in the Ural Mountains of Russia and in 1866, the significant diamond finds of South Africa were discovered. Diamonds in Australia were first recorded in 1851 but it was not until 1979 that the important Argyle pipe was discovered. More recently, Canada and the Yakutsk region of Russia have become forerunners in diamond mining. Today, diamond production in India is a fraction of what it was during the seventeenth-century and is completely overshadowed by mining in Africa, Australia, and Russia. However, it is the Golconda diamond with its incomparable quality, mystery and romance, sought by royal houses all over the world, which still reigns supreme among gem connoisseurs.