The Orlov diamond
The story of the Orlov, known also as Orloff, begins in the mid 18 century when a French soldier deserted the the Indian service. He then apparently moved to live near the Temple of Srirangam in southern India. This is when he started to hear stories about an idol located within the temple whose eyes are set with two large diamonds.
The temple however, is surrounded with seven enclosures and no Christian has ever crossed beyond the forth enclosure. So the French deserter converted to Hindu and worshipped at the temple for many years. It is not clear if he did this sincerely or solely to gain access to the temple. He was so dedicated that eventually he got the job of guardian of the inner shrine. With careful planning he one night pierce one stone of the statue leaving the other one intact and escape to Madras, where he finds protection by the British Army.
In Madras he also finds an English sea man who buys the stone of him and sell it in London with high profit. In London the diamond, still nameless at the time, is bought by a Persian merchant who was trying to sell it to Catherine the Great, the ruler at the time with not much luck.
Catherine the Great had had an affair with Count Gregory Grigorievich Orlov but when she decided she was no longer interested the Persian merchant convinced Gregory Orlov to present her with the beautiful diamond he had. Being desperate Orlov bought the diamond and presented it to Catherine. She accepted the diamond but her way of reciprocating was not by giving him the love he so much wanted back but a palace in St. Petersburg. Catherine named the diamond after the Count.
The Orlov weighs 189.62 carats. It is described in the shape as a half hen – egg. It has a slightly bluish green colour with exceptionally pure clarity. It is cut in a Mogul-cut rose and was mounted in a sceptre for Catherine the Great. It is now at the Dimaond Fund of the Moscow Kremlin.