The word Golconda often conjures up diamonds of the highest quality. Reasoning behind it is that verified Golconda is likely to be D color and near flawless. That’s a pretty good sales pitch right there. But Golconda is a site in India, home of the world’s oldest diamond mines.
Have you seen or at least heard of the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond? How about the Darya-i-Noor diamond? Surely you’re familiar with the cool blue Hope Diamond. All these claim a pedigree of Golconda, India origin.
India boasts the earliest diamond mines, and history supports their discovery in India during the 4th century BC. Actually, it seems that India produced diamonds at a few sites besides Golconda, like Borneo, Hindustan, and Raolconda. The majority of India and Borneo’s diamond deposits were alluvial or marine formed sites. These rich finds were the stuff that fascinated and enriched the war chests of royalty from the Far East to Europe. Expeditions to the region in search of these treasured crystals meant a commitment of years, not hours as we count travel today.
Wild tales of exotic lands loaded with diamond and gemstone treasures lured many adventurous explorers, the most famous being Louis XIV personal ‘stone man’ Tavernier. The fanciful tales of Sinbad and the Arabian Nights evolved from an 8th century Persian book that still fans the imagination of 21st century readers.
While genuine Golconda diamonds have a paper trail that verifies their origin and age, the term Golconda is sometimes brandished with a broad stroke of creative license to mean any diamond of superior quality. Actually Golconda diamonds are classified as IIa natural diamonds, a designation of their chemical purity.
Type IIa diamonds represent only 1-2% of diamond output. An interesting aspect of their high quality is that they are more thermally conductive than other diamond types. Today we are sometimes privy to catching an up close and personal peek at genuine Golconda diamonds. They are mostly at world class auctions of course. But with this rare purebred history, it’s worth the effort to see them first hand because diamonds are not being mined in modern day Golconda.