According to the legend, the 67.50-carat, cushion-cut Black Orlov is said to have taken its name from the Russian Princess Nadia Vyegin-Orlov, to whom it belonged during the mid-eighteenth century.
• Weight: 67.49 carats
• Dimensions: 28.12mm x 25.78mm x 13.89mm
• Colour: black
• Rough weight: 195 carats
• Origin: India
• Date found: early 1800s
• Current location: privately owned
Myths about the stone
Unfortunately, this tale of origin is almost certainly false – there is no documentation of Russia having had a princess by that name, or of India having produced any black diamonds of note. In fact, the history of this so-called black diamond – actually a very dark gun-metal colour – is shrouded in mystery.
Legend has it that the Black Orlov was once known as the Eye of Brahma, an uncut stone of 195 carats set into an idol in Pondicherry, India and stolen by a monk.
Now, some suggest that a black diamond would never have been used in a Hindu idol as black is considered bad luck by them; however, the two regular eyes on Hindu idols (there are normally three eyes) represent the sun and the moon – light and dark respectively – so it is plausible that a black diamond could have been used for the “moon” eye.
What is known is that the Black Orlov was owned by New York City gem dealer Charles F. Winson, who valued it at $US150,000 in the early 1950s and exhibited it at the State Fair of Texas in 1964.
It was sold for $US300,000 in 1969 and resold in 1990 for $US99,000. In October 11, 2006, the Black Orlov featured in a modern diamond-and-platinum necklace as lot 433 in auction house Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale where it fetched $US352,000.
ABOUT SCOTT SUCHER
When one thinks of diamonds, Tijeras, New Mexico is not the first place that springs to mind, but it’s home to Scott Sucher, the Master behind the research and replicas that form the World Famous Diamonds.
Scott Sucher’s lifelong interest in geology commenced when a local museum hosted an exhibition of famous diamonds made of quartz when he was just a young boy. Whenever he could find time in his busy life, he published a collection of internet articles and lectures.
After retirement, Sucher returned to stone cutting with renewed vigour when a Discovery Channel producer requested help for a program on famous diamonds. The 14-month collaboration resulted in Unsolved History: the Hope Diamond, which first aired in February 2005.
The program gave Sucher the chance to handle the unset Hope diamond, the 31-carat Blue Heart diamond and Napoleon’s necklace – a 234-diamond necklace that Napoleon gave to his second wife Marie-Louise.
Sucher then worked with the Natural History Museum in London to recreate a replica of the historic Koh-i-noor. The entire process took 12 months – photo analysis took four months alone – and concluded in July 2007. The cutting alone took 46 hours, and Sucher likened it to “brain surgery, as one mistake can be non-recoverable.”
Sucher continues his work in partnership with many other experts and museums in the field. If anyone knows anything about the world’s most famous diamonds, it’s Scott Sucher.
To follow his ongoing works click here.