Back to a World of Jewelry
THE AKBAR SHAH DIAMOND

As part of Shira Ghaffari’s series of articles exploring the jewelry world, Federico Niki Vescovi delves into the wonderful history of one of the most famous gemstones ever discovered: the Akbar Shah Diamond.


Ancient, incredibly precious and filled with unfortunate events, Akbar Shah Diamond’s history spans over 5 centuries and multiple continents. Historians trace its origins to the era of India’s Mughal dynasty as it is believed to have been found in the famed mines around Golconda in the early 17th century.

The diamond first belonged to Akbar the Great, hence the name, the third Mughal Emperor who reigned from 1556 to 1605, one of the greatest emperors in the history of India and architect of the modern secular state.

Originally it weighed a staggering 116 carats and after Akbar Shah's death passed on to his successor, Emperor Jahangir Shah; under his instructions it was first inscribed in 1619 A.D.

Portrait of Akbar the Great

Portrait of Akbar the Great, unknown artist.

First inscription of the Akbar Shah diamond

1st inscription.

Commissioned as a commemorative tribute to the memory of his father, it read:

“Shah Akbar, The Shah of the World, 1028 A.H.”

The date corresponds to 1619 A.D., the year when Emperor Jahangir Shah caused it to be made.

Eleven years later, Emperor Shah Jehan, just three years after he ascended the throne, ordered a second inscription:

“To the Lord of Two Worlds, 1039 A.H., Shah Jehan”

Shah Jehan had a penchant for inscribing his name on diamonds and this inscription was most probably a record of his ownership of the stone.

Second inscription of the Akbar Shah diamond

2nd inscription.

From what is known the diamond was likely one of the eyes set into the Peacock Throne, crafted at the peak of the Mughal Empire.

Shah Jehan’s gem inventory states that there were only three diamonds large enough to be worthy of being set as the eye: the Akbar Shah, the Jahangir and the Shah. Although researches cannot pinpoint which one was chosen, the Akbar Shah surely had a prominent place in the Emperor’s collection.

Shah Jahan on the Peacock Throne Akbar Shah diamond

Govardhan, Shah Jahan on the Peacock Throne, ca. 1635, Mughal empire (India).

The diamond remained in the dynasty’s treasury until 1739, when Persia invaded the region and Nadir Shah, during the looting of Delhi, with much probability came into possession of the gemstone.

Unfortunately after this upsetting event, which included the destruction of the Peacock Throne, the Shah Akbar diamond disappeared for over a century.

Nadir Shah shah of Persia Akbar Shah diamond

Nadir Shah, Shah of Persia (1732–1747), Persian School.

 

Finally, in 1866, an English merchant, named George Blogg, proprietor of Messrs George Blogg & Co. of London, came across a diamond, in Constantinople, referred as the “The Shepherd’s stone”: probably a reference to the first European who came to acquire the diamond after it resurfaced.

Records left no doubt that, judging by its weight, 116ct, and the famous inscriptions engraved on the sides, it was the vanished Akbar Shah diamond.

Mr. George Blogg purchased the stone and, given his little regard for the diamond’s relevance as an important historic artifact, commissioned an unscrupulous cutter in London, named Levi Moses Auerhaan, to re-cut it into a 73.60ct pear-shape.

Luckily Mr. George Blogg had the presence of mind to take facsimile copies of the inscriptions before destroying them, but by modifying the original Akbar Shah diamond, Mr. Blogg forever altered history, causing irreversible damage.

Mahlar Rao Gaekwad Akbar Shah diamond

Mahlar Rao Gaekwad, unknown author.

A year later, the gemstone, in its new identity, was sold to Mahlar Rao Gaekwad, the eleventh Maharaja of Baruda State, India, for approximately £26.000 and hidden away in his treasury for almost fifty years.

In 1926, his successor, Sayajirao Gaekwad III, had Jacques Cartier reset the stone in platinum, as it was more fashionable at that time, and concealed, once again, the Akbar Shah diamond from public view.

The whereabouts of the Akbar Shah diamond are currently unknown, but the diamond was registered as part of the list of properties disclosed in the 1988 wealth tax returns of the late Fathesinghrao Gaekwad and afterwards reappeared in his wife’s, Shanta Devi.

Whether the stone is still in the family’s possession or has been sold in the following years still remains uncertain.

Young Fathesinghraio Gaekwad Akbar Shah diamond

A young Fathesinghrao Gaekwad.

The Akbar Shah diamond has proven to whit-stand the test of history, surviving for over 450 years, albeit with radical alterations, emerging from time to time in different corners of the world: where it’s going to come to light in the future remains a mystery waiting to be unraveled.

Milan, 2021

SHARE THIS ARTICLE


SOURCES
  • Balfour, Ian. Famous Diamonds. London, Christie, Manson & Woods Ltd., 2000. Pp. 34-37.
  • Streeter, Edwin W. The Great Diamonds of the World: Their History and Romance London. George Bell and Sons, 1882. Pp.209-210.
  • Akbar Shah-Jehangir Shah Diamond. Internet Stones.com, © 2006.
  • G.F Herbert Smith: Gemstones. London, 1940. p. 171-2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Federico Niki Vescovi fine jewelry advisor profile photo shira ghaffari executive team
Federico Niki Vescovi

Fine Jewelry Advisor & Operations Director

Born and raised in the fine jewelry world, after studying law, Federico decided to pursue is passion for the fine arts. He joined the firm in 2015 and over the years acquired valuable professional expertise helping international clients grow and strengthen their position in the fine jewelry market.

Federico's thirst for knowledge and desire to be constantly up-to-date on market trends and new technologies whilst protecting cultural heritage have made him, over the years, a resourceful advisor with talented strategic thinking.

 


WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR ORDER MANAGEMENT SERVICE?

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR ORDER MANAGEMENT SERVICE?


TITLE
SUBTITLE

BODY: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum."


LOCATION

MASTER GOLDSMITHS NETWORK

JEWELRY DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT

LOCATION

MASTER GOLDSMITHS NETWORK

JEWELRY DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT


Back to a World of Jewelry
THE AKBAR SHAH DIAMOND

As part of Shira Ghaffari’s series of articles exploring the jewelry world, Federico Niki Vescovi delves into the wonderful history of one of the most famous gemstones ever discovered: the Akbar Shah Diamond.


Ancient, incredibly precious and filled with unfortunate events, Akbar Shah Diamond’s history spans over 5 centuries and multiple continents. Historians trace its origins to the era of India’s Mughal dynasty as it is believed to have been found in the famed mines around Golconda in the early 17th century.

The diamond first belonged to Akbar the Great, hence the name, the third Mughal Emperor who reigned from 1556 to 1605, one of the greatest emperors in the history of India and architect of the modern secular state.

Originally it weighed a staggering 116 carats and after Akbar Shah's death passed on to his successor, Emperor Jahangir Shah; under his instructions it was first inscribed in 1619 A.D..

Portrait of Akbar the Great Akbar Shah diamond

Portrait of Akbar the Great, unknown artist.

First inscription of the Akbar Shah diamond

1st inscription.

Commissioned as a commemorative tribute to the memory of his father, it read:

“Shah Akbar, The Shah of the World, 1028 A.H.”

The date corresponds to 1619 A.D., the year when Emperor Jahangir Shah caused it to be made.

Eleven years later, Emperor Shah Jehan, just three years after he ascended the throne, ordered a second inscription:

“To the Lord of Two Worlds, 1039 A.H., Shah Jehan”

Shah Jehan had a penchant for inscribing his name on diamonds and this inscription was most probably a record of his ownership of the stone.

Second inscription of the Akbar Shah diamond

2nd inscription.

From what is known the diamond was likely one of the eyes set into the Peacock Throne, crafted at the peak of the Mughal Empire.

Shah Jehan’s gem inventory states that there were only three diamonds large enough to be worthy of being set as the eye: the Akbar Shah, the Jahangir and the Shah. Although researches cannot pinpoint which one was chosen, the Akbar Shah surely had a prominent place in the Emperor’s collection.

Shah Jahan on the Peacock Throne Akbar Shah diamond

Govardhan, Shah Jahan on the Peacock Throne, ca. 1635, Mughal empire (India).

The diamond remained in the dynasty’s treasury until 1739, when Persia invaded the region and Nadir Shah, during the looting of Delhi, with much probability came into possession of the gemstone.

Unfortunately after this upsetting event, which included the destruction of the Peacock Throne, the Shah Akbar diamond disappeared for over a century.

Nadir Shah Shah of Persia Akbar Shah diamond

Nadir Shah, Shah of Persia (1732–1747), Persian School.

 

Finally, in 1866, an English merchant, named George Blogg, proprietor of Messrs George Blogg & Co. of London, came across a diamond, in Constantinople, referred as the “The Shepherd’s stone”: probably a reference to the first European who came to acquire the diamond after it resurfaced.

Records left no doubt that, judging by its weight, 116ct, and the famous inscriptions engraved on the sides, it was the vanished Akbar Shah diamond.

Mr. George Blogg purchased the stone and, given his little regard for the diamond’s relevance as an important historic artifact, commissioned an unscrupulous cutter in London, named Levi Moses Auerhaan, to re-cut it into a 73.60ct pear-shape.

Luckily Mr. George Blogg had the presence of mind to take facsimile copies of the inscriptions before destroying them, but by modifying the original Akbar Shah diamond, Mr. Blogg forever altered history, causing irreversible damage.

Mahlar Rao Gaekwad Akbar shah diamond

Mahlar Rao Gaekwad, unknown author.

A year later, the gemstone, in its new identity, was sold to Mahlar Rao Gaekwad, the eleventh Maharaja of Baruda State, India, for approximately £26.000 and hidden away in his treasury for almost fifty years.

In 1926, his successor, Sayajirao Gaekwad III, had Jacques Cartier reset the stone in platinum, as it was more fashionable at that time, and concealed, once again, the Akbar Shah diamond from public view.

The whereabouts of the Akbar Shah diamond are currently unknown, but the diamond was registered as part of the list of properties disclosed in the 1988 wealth tax returns of the late Fathesinghrao Gaekwad and afterwards reappeared in his wife’s, Shanta Devi.

Whether the stone is still in the family’s possession or has been sold in the following years still remains uncertain.

Young Fathesinghrao Gaekwad Akbar Shah diamond

A young Fathesinghrao Gaekwad.

The Akbar Shah diamond has proven to whit-stand the test of history, surviving for over 450 years, albeit with radical alterations, emerging from time to time in different corners of the world: where it’s going to come to light in the future remains a mystery waiting to be unraveled.

Milan, 2021

SHARE THIS ARTICLE


SOURCES
  • Balfour, Ian. Famous Diamonds. London, Christie, Manson & Woods Ltd., 2000. Pp. 34-37.
  • Streeter, Edwin W. The Great Diamonds of the World: Their History and Romance London. George Bell and Sons, 1882. Pp.209-210.
  • Akbar Shah-Jehangir Shah Diamond. Internet Stones.com, © 2006.
  • G.F Herbert Smith: Gemstones. London, 1940. p. 171-2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Federico Niki Vescovi fine jewelry advisor profile photo shira ghaffari executive team
Federico Niki Vescovi

Fine Jewelry Advisor & Operations Director

Born and raised in the fine jewelry world, after studying law, Federico decided to pursue is passion for the fine arts. He joined the firm in 2015 and over the years acquired valuable professional expertise helping international clients grow and strengthen their position in the fine jewelry market.

Federico's thirst for knowledge and desire to be constantly up-to-date on market trends and new technologies whilst protecting cultural heritage have made him, over the years, a resourceful advisor with talented strategic thinking.

 


OUR ORDER MANAGEMENT SERVICE


TITLE
SUBTITLE

BODY: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum."