Diamonds have been unearthed in the Golconda region, present-day Hyderabad, since the 4th century BC and remained the only source of the world’s diamonds until 1725, when deposits were discovered in Brazil and South Africa in the late 19th century.
Centuries before Europeans discovered the allure of diamonds, they were mined and revered for their talismanic properties and used to adorn the shrines of deities and, in part, the nobility and royalty as uncut stones. It was not until the mid-16th century when the rulers of the Vijayanagar Empire Golconda learnt of the outside world's love of the gems, seized the mines and began establishing a trade monopoly. The demand and price of the gems rose disproportionality, bringing great wealth and riches to the empire.
Most known Golconda diamonds are established as IIa gems, colourless, incredibly rare and of extraordinary quality. While they now make up less than 2% of all diamonds and are not the largest, they are chemically the purist, without any nitrogen or boron impurities, displaying superior transparency and are counted among the most famous and coveted gems in the world. These include the Koh-I-Noor at 189.62 carats; the Orlov, the 182-carat; the pink Daria-i-Noor and the white Regent, both weighing 140 carats; the white Regent the 45.52-carat blue Hope Diamond, the 70.21-carat Idol's Eye, the 43.38-carat Nassak Diamond, the 41-carat Dresden Green and many more that have fallen into private collections.
Even today, the word Golconda signifies that the diamond is a period gem mined in the ancient diamond fields along the beds of the river Krishna and its tributaries of the river Krishna.
By the end of the 19th century, the ancient Indian mines were exhausted, and the world's focus shifted to the newly discovered South African deposit-rich soil. With the world’s supply of diamonds in decline, by the very nature of their origin, the number of Golconda diamonds is finite, making these period gems incredibly valuable, which have assumed mythical quality owing to their superior transparency and innate rarity.