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[Tidbits] The Grenadier's Diamond


#1

Oh what tangled webs we weave / when first we steal and then we
thieve. Close enough. right folks? The journey is convoluted. He was
a French deserter from the Carnatic wars who converted to the Hindu
faith. The diamond was the eye of a statue of the deity of the Sri
Ranganathaswamy Temple of Srirangam in southern India. which–in a
moment of chicanery–our scallywag of South Asia plucked and pilfered
and absconded to Madras. The year was 1750. It was there–he
hoped–that he would find a buyer.

At the same time as this was going on. a fellow by the name of
Grigory was having a bit of an affair and more than a bit of
Mufki-Pufki in the wee hours with a young Catherine the Great of
Russia.

The then still unnamed diamond was all the while being passed around
from merchant to merchant eventually appearing for sale in Amsterdam.
eventually finding a buyer in Grigory who–aside from being Cathy’s
lover–was also a Count. He bought the little doo-dad for 400,000
Dutch florins. Try as I might. I searched for a conversion rate but
unlike the seller of the diamond. came up empty-handed. A gazillion
dollars might be close.

In the beginning. while ol’ Grig was having his tryst with Cathy, she
was married to the Emperor Peter III of Russia. Grig did not like
this. so he connived to have Pete dethroned in a coup d’etat which
led to the elevation of Cathy to power. And the affair continued for
a bit. and the two had an illegitimate child. But Cathy
tired–Empresses are often wont to do that–and decided to pop in the
sack with Grigori Alexandrovich Potemkin who was not–I believe–a
Count. Ol’ Grig was jealous.

I digress for a second folks. Ya gotta love gossip. It’s so juicy.
Anyway. ol’ Grig got it into his head that if he gave Cathy a
sizeable diamond she would leave Grig II to go back to him… Grig I.
He chose this particular diamond because he had heard she craved it.
Alas. the ploy failed. She took the diamond and designed The Imperial
Scepter around it and left ol’ Grig fumbling helplessly for his lost
love. all to no avail. However … Cathy was not all hard-hearted and
so she named to diamond after ol’ Grig. whose full name was Count
Grigory Grigorievich Orlov. And to this very day it is still known as
the Orlov Diamond. one of the most famous diamonds in the world.

It still retains its original Indian rose-style cut. Its weight is
189.62 carats. It is said to be white with a bluish-green
tinge–which I do not understand because to me white is white and
bluish-green tinge is not white. It has been described as resembling
half a pigeon’s egg. which–I think–appears to be true despite the
fact that I’ve never seen a pigeon’s egg. But one must be allowed to
extrapolate. must one not?

So there it is.

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits. may I
direct you to my home page at http://www.tyler-adam.com where you
will scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that
says Current Tidbits. click it. and you will see represented on our
pages an image of The Imperial Sceptre of Catherine the Great with
ol’ Grig’s diamond on top.

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark


#2
He bought the little doo-dad for 400,000 Dutch florins. Try as I
might. I searched for a conversion rate but unlike the seller of
the diamond. came up empty-handed. A gazillion dollars might be
close. 

fl. is the symbol for the Dutch guilder. Searching for historical
conversions for guilders lets us calculate that fl400,000 in 1750
comes to about $5.2 million today.

Cheap at twice the price, at today’s diamond rates.

Elliot Nesterman


#3
He bought the little doo-dad for 400,000 Dutch florins. Try as I
might. I searched for a conversion rate but unlike the seller of
the diamond. came up empty-handed. A gazillion dollars might be
close. fl. is the symbol for the Dutch guilder. Searching for
historical conversions for guilders lets us calculate that
fl400,000 in 1750 comes to about $5.2 million today. Cheap at twice
the price, at today's diamond rates.

Thank you Mr. Nesterman,
That is very interesting. Appreciate your response.

Benjamin Mark