The Many Stories of the Spoonmaker’s Diamond


The Spoonmaker’s Diamond, also known as the Kasikci, is the most valued exhibit of the Topkapi Palace Museum. The Topkapi Palace Museum is one of the most famous treasuries in the word. Inside of its walls are ancient maces, daggers, pendants, book covers, chests, rings, and various other ancient artifacts, studded, encrusted, and artfully decorated with beautiful stones. The Spoonmaker’s Diamond rests prized among these.

This 86 carat (17 g) non conflict diamond is cut in a pear shape and surrounded by a cluster of forty nine smaller, brilliant-cut diamonds. It has been compared to the curved dipper of a spoon (which might be the origin of its name) and a full moon, illuminating a bright sky full of stars.

Though there are several legends as to where the Spoonmaker Diamond came from, its true origins and how it got to the Topkapi Palace are unknown. Sultan Mehmet IV also had a diamond called the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, but it was set in a ring and weighed much less than the similarly named gemstone in the Topkapi Palace.

One of the origin myths of the Spoonmaker’s Diamond starts with a poor fisherman, wandering around Istanbul, penniless and empty handed. He finds a brilliantly shining stone amongst the piles of garbage. Unsure of what the stone was, but recognizing it as beautiful, he stores it in his pocket for a few days before going to a jeweler’s market—this was before the days of IGI appraisals.

The fisherman shows his rock to the first jeweler he comes across. The jeweler recognizes it as an extremely valuable diamond, but feigns disinterest. He gives it a cursory glance-over and states that it is just a hunk of glass, but he is willing to give the fisherman three spoons for his trouble, out of sympathy. The fisherman agrees, and walks away from the deal feeling better off.

In a slightly different version of the story, an impoverished man named Rashid finds the diamond in 1699 while scouring the Istanbul garbage dumps. He haggled with a spoonmaker and manages 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.

The jeweler examines the diamond with a friend, and they soon discover its true value, one of the best value diamonds they have ever seen. They argue a bit over what to do, but eventually decide to sell it to another jeweler. They each get a bag of gold out of the deal. Before the third jeweler can sell the diamond, Grand Vizier Ahmed Pasha hears of its presence and confiscates it. The Spoonmaker’s Diamond soon passes into the hands of Sultan Mehmed IV.

The story put together by researchers and historians is much different. A French officer named Pigot purchased the diamond in 1774 from Maharajah of Madras. He brought it back home with him to France, but was robbed by thieves. The diamond disappeared, and didn’t resurface until Casanova bought the diamond in an auction.

The diamond passed hands and ended up in another auction, where Napoleon’s mother bought it. She wore it frequently, but when Napoleon went into exile, she put it up for sale in order to support him. A man who worked for Tepedeleni Ali Pasha bought the diamond from her and presented it to Pasha. Later, during the reign of Mahmud II, Pasha was killed under charges of rebellion and treason. His treasury, including the Pigot Diamond, was confiscated by the state.

The treasury records describe the Pigot Diamond as having a mass of 86 carats, the same as the Spoonmaker’s Diamond. Conclusions have been reached that the Pigot Diamond is one and the same as the Spoonmaker’s Diamond. It is still unsure if the Spoonmaker’s Diamond was cast with the forty nine brilliant cut diamonds by Mahmud II’s men or Tepedeleni Ali Pasha’s men. However, they increase its dazzling appearance as well as its market value.

Allison Ryan is a freelance writer that specializes in gemology, the history of the most rare and valued gems and stones in the world, and how to find best value diamonds. For a non conflict diamond complete with IGI appraisals, stop by http://www.diamondwave.com/.

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