The Shining Light

If you see a brilliant light at the end of a dark tunnel, it can be one of those Golconda diamonds the world still lusts over today. One of them, The Light of Golconda, just fetched a whopping amount at an auction, courtesy Sotheby's.

By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: December 10, 2011

If you see a brilliant light at the end of a dark tunnel, it can be one of those Golconda diamonds the world still lusts over today. One of them, The Light of Golconda, just fetched a whopping amount at an auction, courtesy Sotheby’s.

The Mines of Golconda are fabled for their diamonds. Golconda was once renowned for the diamonds found on the south-east at Kollur Mine (Guntur district), Paritala (Krishna district) and cut in the city during the Kakatiya reign. At that time, only India had the known diamond mines in the world.

Golconda was, in fact, the market city of the diamond trade, and gems sold there came from a number of mines. The fortress city within the walls was famous for diamond trade. From these mines has come the Light of Golconda diamond – a large, well-cut brilliant diamond, which took everyone’s breath away at the recent auction held by Sotheby’s.

The diamond was cut by the hand and eye of a skilled artisan, thus distinguishing it from the majority of large diamonds available today that have been cut with 20th century technological precision. Its unique shape gives it the appearance of being significantly larger than its 33 carats.

“Every great diamond has something special about it, but this one is a truly magical stone. It has everything: its translucence is breathtaking, like looking through limpid ice water, and the antique cushion cut that spreads out along the hand makes the stone look different every time you see it. That combination of qualities gives the diamond seemingly endless sparkle and mesmerizing charm, drawing you in like the best works of art,” said Ms Maithili Parekh, Director of Sotheby’s in India.

The Golconda diamonds possess some unique chemical and physical properties as well. Known as type IIa diamonds, they are part of the less than two per cent of the world’s gems that are most chemically pure. Being virtually all carbon, they have an exceptional transparency.

The Light of Golconda, however, is not the only feather in Sotheby’s prestigious cap. “Sotheby’s redefined the auction market for jewellery in 1987 with the record-breaking sale of The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, which remains the record for any single-owner sale in this field. We continually provide discerning buyers with the world’s most extraordinary jewels, including a 24.78 carat Fancy Intense Pink Diamond that established a new record for any jewel at auction in 2010. Earlier this month, Sotheby’s set a world auction record for yellow diamond when it sold the Sun-Drop Diamond for $12,361,558. Weighing 110.03 carats, this exceptional stone ranks as the largest known pear-shaped fancy vivid yellow diamond in the world,” elaborated Ms Parekh.

Working with connoisseurs and collectors across the country, the Indian art market has been fruitful for Sotheby’s. According to Ms Parekh, while the art market in general has developed through galleries, auction houses and dealers, the not-for-profit sector including public art spaces, museums and public engagement platforms are still in the nascent stage.

Ms Parekh enjoys artists that have fresh ideas and concepts and have the skill to execute them through process and material. She believes that Indian art has set itself apart due to its modern and contemporary ideologies. “Indian modern and contemporary art has defined the art of the times. The modern art movement, formed during the late 1940s, captured the social and political transformations of a newly formed independent India. Artists MF Husain, FN Souza, SH Raza, Tyeb Mehta and VS Gaitonde, among many others, worked to create a space that defined the idea of ‘modern’ for Indian art. Contemporary art in India is equally engaging with artists working with the transitions of a fast-changing India today,” she said.

Owing to the fast moving economic scenario in India and soaring prices of jewellery, Sotheby’s is sure to see good business in the coming years, whether it’s from connoisseurs or investors looking towards the future.

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