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Koh-i-Noor recreated for Diamonds exhibition

30 June 2005

One of the oldest known and most highly desired diamonds in the world, the Koh-i-Noor, is being recreated for the Natural History Museum’s Diamonds exhibition.

Replica of the Koh-i-Noor diamond © John Nels Hatleberg

Replica of the Koh-i-Noor diamond © John Nels Hatleberg

First recorded in India during the fifteenth century, the diamond originally was uncut and weighed 186.1 carats.

The Koh-i-Noor, meaning ‘mountain of light’, has passed through the hands of Moguls, emperors, Sikh kings and British queens, and went on display at the Great Exhibition in Crystal Palace in 1851.

The Koh-i-Noor was an Indian Mogul cut white diamond and one of the largest ever seen. It is said to be around the size of a small hens egg split down the middle long ways. It was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850, and Prince Albert had it recut into an oval brilliant 108.93 carat.

The actual Koh-i-Noor can now be seen in the Maltese Cross, in a crown made for the Queen Mother in 1937, on display at the Tower of London.

Recreating the diamond

An original plaster cast of the stone has been in the Natural History Museum’s collection for more than 150 years.

In collaboration with Museum mineralogists, American gem artist John Nels Hatleberg has used the Museum’s model to faithfully recreate the replica using natural and synthetic materials.

‘For 14 years it has been my quest to recreate the original Koh-i-Noor, and I am thrilled it will now receive its first showing at the Diamonds exhibition in London,' John said.

The original Koh-i-Noor design

The original Koh-i-Noor was an Indian Mogul cut and was very complicated. Here are some facts:

  • standard brilliant-cut diamonds have 57 facets (small flat surfaces)
  • the original Koh-i-Noor had 200 facets – four times more than 99 per cent of cut diamonds
  • there were 30 instances where six facets met in one point, and 24 instances where five facets met in one point – hence the name ‘mountain of light’
  • standard brilliant-cut diamonds do not have six facets meeting in one point
  • standard brilliant-cut diamonds today have eight instances of five facets meeting in one point
  • the original diamond was intended to be worn on an armlet to catch the light
Diamonds opens on 8 July 2005.

Further Information