Therapeutic properties

Why is diamond called blood stone?

How the world encountered “blood diamonds” and how it is trying to fight them

On January 1, the decisions of the EU and G7 to ban the import, purchase and transportation of non-industrial rough diamonds from Russia came into effect. Restrictions will be tightened in March. Thus, Russian diamonds were equated to the so-called “blood diamonds” – stones from war zones, the trade of which is strictly prohibited. Kommersant looked into the history of the “blood diamonds” phenomenon and the effectiveness of the efforts of the world community to squeeze them out of the world market. Exit full screen mode Expand to full screen Photo: Yury Martyanov, Kommersant

Cold War Stones

The world began to pay attention to “blood diamonds” – stones that are mined in zones of armed conflicts and used to finance them – at the end of the 20th century. The Cold War is over, the confrontation between the two systems has been replaced by a desire to cooperate. Civil wars or rebel activities in developing countries are no longer perceived as proxy wars between blocs. The efforts of the world were now aimed at stopping them. Political pressure on the parties to the conflicts was accompanied by economic and financial pressure. Governments, under the threat of sanctions, were recommended to meet the rebels halfway, but the latter were stopped funding, forcing them to meet the authorities halfway. This approach worked in many states, but in mineral-rich countries the rebels quickly discovered that they had their own source of funding. It is difficult to find a better option for illegal trade than rough diamonds: they do not take up much space, are highly liquid, and are expensive. So the world community now has one more problem, and the political vocabulary has been replenished with a new term – “conflict diamonds,” which the press and public organizations began to call “blood diamonds” to make it more colorful. At first, however, the problem did not seem too serious.

The First Battle

The first target for the fighters against “blood diamonds” was the Angolan group UNITA (Movement for the Total Liberation of Angola). It was created back in the 1960s to fight the Portuguese colonialists, but was mainly engaged in fighting another anti-colonial movement, the MPLA (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola), which was supported by the Soviet Union. After the declaration of independence and the coming to power of the MPLA, a classic civil war began in Angola between the pro-Soviet government and anti-Soviet rebels supported by the United States and China. Foreign funding was a serious help for UNITA, but hardly the main source of funds. Those areas of the country where diamond deposits were located came under the control of the organization. The brutality with which the militants sought control of the diamond mines, and the fact that the funds received from their sale were used to continue the war, in fact, gave rise to the term “blood diamonds.” In 1998, the UN Security Council first introduced an embargo on the trade in blood diamonds. The relevant resolution prohibited the purchase of stones from Angola without a certificate of origin issued by the internationally recognized government of the country. It seemed the problem was solved. After all, both states and leading players in the diamond market came out in support of the resolution. Mining companies, diamond exchanges and retailers created the World Diamond Council (WDC), whose task was precisely the fight against “blood diamonds”. And the leading countries of the world have adopted national acts prohibiting the trade in such stones. At first glance, the measures taken helped achieve the desired result. According to the BAC, by the early 1990s, up to 19% of diamonds on the world market were “blood diamonds.” And in 1999, a year after sanctions against UNITA came into force and the global fight against illegal stones began, their share in global trade dropped to 4%

Victory can be paper

Subsequent events showed, however, that the successes achieved in the struggle may have existed only on paper. “Blood diamonds” are mined not just in conflict zones, but where corruption is rampant, human rights are not considered at all, and the demands of the international community are treated without any respect. The rebels (and those to whom they sold the goods) easily bribed local officials to obtain the necessary documents to legalize the diamonds. Corruption captured the highest levels of government. In 2001, the UN imposed sanctions against the authorities of Liberia: the regime there almost openly bought diamonds from rebels from neighboring Sierra Leone, issued the necessary documents, and in exchange supplied weapons to the militants. Liberian President Charles Taylor was later tried as an international criminal in The Hague and sent to serve a 50-year sentence in a British prison. However, rebels from Sierra Leone have found new buyers in another neighboring country, Cote D’Ivoire, against which sanctions were imposed in 2005. Manufacturers have also made an attempt to solve the problem. With the assistance of the UN, the so-called Kimberley Process (KP) was created – an international diamond certification system. Its members are states (including Russia), and leading manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of diamonds actively cooperate with it. Since it is impossible to sell diamonds without documents that meet the requirements of the KP on legal platforms, it is believed that by now the share of “blood” diamonds has decreased on the world market to less than 1%. However, the Communist Party also immediately had critics who argued that the system was not protected from fraud. They were listened to. Paper certificates have been complemented by the inclusion of shipments in a database running on the blockchain, which makes counterfeiting, if not completely impossible, then so difficult that the game that is smuggling “blood diamonds” is not worth the candle. Nevertheless, skeptics say, the share of “blood diamonds” on the world market is now 15%, having decreased only slightly since the international community declared war on such stones.

Will overseas help them?

Sanctions by the EU and G7 countries against Russian diamonds actually equate them to “blood diamonds.” Which, experts say, takes the situation to a new level. Formally, however, nothing changes. The UN definition of conflict diamonds remains. These are considered to be stones mined in areas controlled by forces fighting the legitimate and internationally recognized government of a country and sold to finance such a fight. And, as in the case of blood diamonds, the sanctions were publicly supported by prominent market participants. In particular, the head of De Beers, Al Cook, declared his support for the imposed sanctions. True, in the same statement he carefully expressed those doubts that less influential market participants speak about much more openly. “The answer to the question of why we should (impose sanctions.— Kommersant), simple. The answer to the question of how we will do this is complex,” Cook said in an open letter to the G7. We are talking about identifying and tracking Russian diamonds. In theory, everyone in the chain linking diamond producers and retailers has the technical means to do this. Diamonds, or more precisely their batches, can be assigned unique QR codes supported by the blockchain. There is equipment for more or less accurately determining the origin of stones based on the characteristics of their composition. Finally, there are technologies that make it possible to mark even the smallest rough and polished diamonds. Such markings will not damage the appearance, will be completely invisible to the end buyer, but will remain in stone forever. But any of these methods are extremely expensive, and therefore may simply be unaffordable for most processors. The world’s largest diamond processing center is India. This is where labor is cheapest in this industry. And the processing of small diamonds, a labor-intensive task, becomes profitable only with minimal labor costs. “The smaller and cheaper the stone, the more people you need to cut and process it,” says Anup Mehta, president of the Mumbai Diamond Exchange, one of the largest in the world. Therefore, in India, diamond processing is a handicraft and almost home-based industry. And the owners of such enterprises cannot afford expensive inspection and labeling methods.

The European Union will completely abandon diamonds from the Russian Federation

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The history of large gems is a story of passion and crime, blood and dark secrets, fulfilled prophecies and terrible curses. They excite and fascinate no less than the dazzling shine of the gem around which they exist. Do you like scary stories? Then this one is about the “Kohinoor”, a diamond that brought untold disasters to all its owners. Only a century and a half ago, Queen Victoria of England managed to stop the curse of the Kohinoor, a diamond that had caused blood to flow for centuries. But first things first.

“Kohinoor” (“Kohinoor”, “Koinur”, “Koh-i-Noor”) is a colorless oval diamond weighing 105,6 carats (21,12 grams) with 66 facets. Traditionally, large diamonds of the highest quality are cut into 58 facets, but the jeweler added 8 more to the Kohinouru to fully reveal its incredible brilliance.

Title History

“Kohinoor” is a diamond whose appearance is lost in the darkness not even of centuries, but of millennia. Even the history of its modern name dates back to the 18th century. “Mountain of Light” (this is how “Kohinur” is translated from Persian) was called by Nadir Shah, who defeated the heir of the Mughals, the ruler of India, Sultan Muhammad. One of the winner’s trophies was the legendary “Kohinoor” – a diamond that did not bring happiness to any of its owners.

History has preserved this episode. It is said that when Nadir Shah’s army entered Delhi, massacres and looting began. From the Mughal treasury, the Shah stole countless valuables that filled thousands of vans. Among the riches was the legendary imperial Peacock Throne, where the eye socket of one of the dancing birds was decorated with a huge diamond. They say that when Nadir Shah saw him, he could not resist shouting with delight. “Koi-i-Nur (Mountain of Light)!” – he exclaimed. After the cursed diamond fell into his hands in 1739, Nadir Shah lived only 7 years. The commander was brutally stabbed to death by his own officers, and his empire collapsed.

Why is a diamond considered cursed?

“Kohinoor” is a diamond whose history, despite its name, is so ominous, was first mentioned in 1306. One source, written in Hindi, says that this diamond carries a curse. And it will overtake any man who dares to wield it. The manuscript says that this man will become a great ruler and will lay the whole world at his feet, but countless disasters will also be his faithful companions. Only a woman or the Creator can wear this treasure without fear of punishment. What happened to those unfortunate people who dared not to believe in the prophecy and adorned themselves with a blood diamond?

Legends about Kohinoor

Let’s start with the origin of Kohinoor. The diamond, whose history is so fascinating, according to one of the Indian legends, originally adorned the Indian god. The ancient Sanskrit manuscripts Vishnu Purana and Bhagavad Purana mention the magical stone Shyamantaka, which shone on the neck of the sun god Surya. It is likely that we are talking about “Kohinoor”.

Another legend says that about 5 thousand years ago the diamond served as the eye of an Indian deity, and then the hero of the Mahabharata, Prince Karna, became its owner. Scientists who have studied the diamond claim that Kohinoor was mined in South India, in the mines of Golconda around 1100, during the reign of the Kakatiya dynasty.

History of Kohinoor

Until 1304, the diamond (its name at that time was not preserved by history) was owned by the Indian rajahs who ruled the territory where the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are now located. A little later, these territories also belonged to Pakistan. And in 1304, the Emperor of Delhi, Aladdin Khili, became the owner of the diamond – he owned it until 1339.

However, there is another version. It is said that in 1310, the Khilji dynasty invaded Kakatiya and ravaged the kingdom, taking the Kohinoor as a trophy. A short time later, this dynasty was overthrown, and then the next owners of the diamond were defeated in an inter-clan war, and the diamond again changed its owner. How can one not believe in a bloody curse?

Only one thing is known for certain – in the chain of “lucky ones” who proudly owned “Kohinoor” was the Indian ruler Babur, the founder of the Great Mughal dynasty and the legendary conqueror of India. Instead of all the good he had won, the ominous diamond also came to him.

So, in 1526, the diamond changed its owner and began to bear the name “Babur’s Stone.” By the way, there is no reliable information about what Kohinoor was originally like. What is known is that in the 1700s it weighed almost 200 carats and had a yellowish tint. However, the tireless traveler, adventurer and part-time jeweler Tavernier claimed that when the diamond adorned the Peacock Throne, it weighed twice as much, and before cutting it weighed more than 700 carats.

The decoration for the Peacock Throne of the Great Mughals “Kohinoor” became at the suggestion of the Great Mogul and the builder of the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan. They also say that it was his son, Aurangzeba, who was the first to cut the legendary diamond. The cutting was entrusted to the Venetian jeweler Hortenso Borgia, who not only spoiled the stone, but also managed to reduce its weight several times.

Fig 1. Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal

Further, the history of the diamond becomes completely official – the Persian Shah Nadir defeats the weak descendant of Aurangzeb – Mohammed Shah Rangil, and takes possession of Kohinoor. The ruler loses his head at the hands of his own officers after 7 years, and the stone goes to his former general, Shah Ahmad Durrani, the founder of the Afghan dynasty.

Yes, according to legend, the whole world really bowed to the owners of the cursed diamond. But what about the troubles and sorrows that the prophecy promised? It brought neither happiness nor peace to any of the former owners of the diamond. The third representative of Durrani, Zaman Shah, was overthrown and captured by his own brother Shuja, who 8 years later was also overthrown and sent into exile by another brother, Shah Mahmud.

And then Ranjit Singh entered the picture, dreaming of taking over Kohinoor. And, of course, this dream of the “Mountain of Light” could not but turn into a chain of intrigue and yet another bloodshed. In 1813, Ranjit Singh, the founder of the Sikh empire, became the owner of Kohinoor. After Singh’s death, the struggle for Kohinoor and his throne began again. The cursed diamond wandered from one heir to another, and the blood of the Singhs and their subjects flowed like a river. Representatives of the dynasty practically exterminated each other. The last survivor was 6-year-old Maharaja Dalip Singh.

“Kohinoor” in the British crown

Fig 2. Crown of Queen Elizabeth

When the Sikh state fell through the efforts of the East India Company, all power in Punjab passed to the British. As a war trophy (of course, it was called a gift, but this does not change the essence), the Kohinoor went to Britain in 1850, to Queen Victoria.

They say that at first the queen was disappointed – the diamond looked very inconspicuous against the backdrop of the shining crown jewels. That is why two years later she, or rather her husband Prince Albert, decided to recut the damned Indian diamond. The Dutch jeweler completed the job successfully. The stone lost weight, decreasing to 108,93 carats.

The Queen often appeared in public with the Kohinoor – she pinned it in the form of a brooch. What about the legend? According to Victoria’s will, the diamond could not be inherited by men – it went to queens or the wives of kings. The following representatives of the dynasty wore the legendary “Kohinoor” as an insert into the crown.

Passions still rage around the diamond. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, where Nadir Shah was from, more than once or twice demanded that the diamond be returned to them, but to this day the Kohinoor is the diamond in the crown of British kings.

How much does Kohinoor cost?

Many people wonder what is the price of the Kohinoor diamond? Experts put the cost at $1 billion. But even if someone has a billion, he will not be able to buy the famous large diamond under any circumstances. Therefore, the decoration of the British crown is considered priceless.

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