The story I’d like to tell you now is the story of the Spoonmaker’s Diamond (Turkish: Kaşıkçı Elması), the pride of the Topkapi Palace Museum. Although the Imperial Treasury is full of ancient daggers, pendants, book covers, chests, rings, and various other ancient artifacts artfully decorated with beautiful stones, the Spoonmaker’s Diamond rests its most valuable single exhibit. It is an 86 carat (17 g) pear-shaped diamond, surrounded by a double row of smaller forty-nine diamonds, giving it the appearance of a full moon lighting a bright and shining sky full of stars.
According to one of the origin myths of the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, a poor fisherman was wandering penniless and empty-handed around Istanbul, when he found a shiny stone among the litter. Unsure of what the stone was, but recognizing it as beautiful, he carried it about in his pocket for a few days, and then stopped by the jewelers’ market, showing it to the jeweler, who recognizes it as an extremely valuable diamond, but feigning disinterest gave it a cursory glance-over, and stated that it was just a hunk of glass. So he’d had give the fisherman three spoons for his trouble, out of sympathy. The fisherman agreed, and walked away from the deal feeling better off.
According to a slightly different version of the story, the person finding the diamond was Rashid, an impoverished man who found the diamond in 1699 while scouring the Istanbul garbage dumps. He haggled with a spoonmaker and managed to get three wooden spoons in exchange for the shiny rock. The spoonmaker, recognizing the gem as valuable but not realizing that it was worth a fortune, sells it to a jeweler for ten silver coins. After changing a number of hands, the diamond was confiscated by Grand Vizier Ahmed Pasha and soon passed into the hands of Sultan Mehmed IV.
According to researchers and historians, was a French officer named Pigot who purchased the diamond in 1774 from Maharajah of Madras and brought it back home with him to France. But during his trip some thieves robbed him, and the diamond ended up in numerous auctions, where it was first bought by Casanova and then by Napoleon’s mother, who had to put it up for sale in order to save her son when Napoleon went into exile. Who bought the diamond from her was a man who worked for Tepedeleni Ali Pasha, who later, during the reign of Mahmud II, was killed under charges of rebellion and treason. His treasury, including the Pigot Diamond, was confiscated by the state.
It is still unsure if the Spoonmaker’s Diamond was cast with the forty nine brilliant cut diamonds by Mahmud II’s men or by Tepedeleni Ali Pasha’s men, but what is true is that they increase its dazzling appearance as well as its market value.
So, whatever happened, now I’m sure you have another good reason to visit Istanbul and the wonderful Topkapi Palace!
You’ll find yourself completely dazzled, and recalling its incredible story, you’ll be able to fantasize about the characters and the misadventures of the marvellous diamond in front of you. 😉