Topkapi Palace Diamond – Spoonmaker’s Diamond
The most important section of the Topkapi Palace, the Treasury lies in the third courtyard. And one of the most important items of the Treasury is in the fourth room. It is the breathtaking Spoonmaker’s Diamond: an 86-carat diamond surrounded by 49 smaller diamonds.
There are stories and rumors about the diamond, some very similar. To sum up, it is believed that the diamond was once owned by the Maharajah of Madras, and sold to a French guy called Pigot. Then it was stolen, and nobody knows how it ended up in Casanova’s hands.
Now there are two different versions: It was either Napoleon’s mother who bought it in an auction, or the mother of King Louis 16th. And it was either sold by Napoleon’s mother to support her son, or given as a present by the King’s mother to the Egyptian rulers when King Louis 16th was sent to exile. Eventually it ended up in Ottoman hands. The name comes from the story that the diamond was found by a poor guy in garbage, and was sold to a jeweler in exchange for three wooden spoons.
The Treasury of the Museum of Topkapi Palace is considered one of the most famous treasuries in the world. Indeed, the number of maces, pendants, daggers, chests, book covers, candelabra, rings, and various decorative articles adorned with such stones as diamonds, emeralds, rubies, brilliants, chrysolite, and turquoises are incalculable, and no price can be placed on their worth. Next to these gems sparkling like a bouquet of light, silver and gold seem dull. Furthermore each one of these painstakingly made articles possesses a memory, a story and from the standpoint of art and history has its own unique value. In how many sultan’s crowns did those diamond encrusted crests over there reign? Who did that emerald encrusted dagger in the glass case a bit farther on challenge and on whose waist did it rest? Or those rings, earrings, medallions, medals? The spectator, his eyes entranced in these rooms, is unable to prevent himself from being caught up in the memories of an overwhelming past. Amidst all these riches enthroned in its own separate case is a masterpiece, proud in its beauty, that dazzles the eye with its light. Known as the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, it has become famous, a bright and shining oval gem shaped like the bowl of a spoon. Forty nine separate brilliants surround it, which in this fashion gives it the appearance of a full moon lighting a bright and shining sky amidst the stars.
Various stories are told about the Spoonmaker’s Diamond According to one tale, a poor fisherman in Istanbul near Yenikapi was wandering idly, empty-handed along the shore when he found a shiny stone among the litter, which he turned over one over not knowing what it was. After carrying it about in his pocket for a few days, he stopped by the jewelers Market, showing it to the first jeweler he encountered. The jeweler took a casual glance at the stone and appeared disinterested, saying “It’s a piece of glass, take it away if you like, or if you like I’ll give you three spoons. You brought it all the way here, at least let it be worth your trouble.” What was the poor fisherman to do with this piece of glass? What’s more the jeweler had felt sorry for him and was giving three spoons. He said okay and took the spoons, leaving in their place an enormous treasure. It is for this reason they say that the diamond’s name became the “Spoonmaker’s Diamond” According to another tale, the person finding the diamond was a spoonmaker, or the diamond was given this name because it resembled the bowl of a spoon. Even today it is not known how this diamond came to the Ottoman Palace, who it was obtained from or how. Even though a ring stone called the Spoonmaker’s Diamond which belonged to Sultan Mehmet IV appears listed in museum records, this stone along with its gold is only 10 to 12 grams, which is much smaller than our Spoonmaker’s Diamond. So where did the Spoonmaker’s Diamond come from then?
While the experts go on researching this subject, in recent years a new story has begun to be told. It goes like this:
In 1774 a French officer by the name of Pigot purchased a diamond from the Maharajah of Madras and brought it to France. After changing a number of hands, the diamond was put up for sale at auction, in which Napoleon’s mother purchased it. For a long time she wore it on her breast. When Napoeon was sent into exile, his aged mother put the diamond up for sale in order to be able save her son.
One of Tepedelenli Ali Pasa’s men, who was in France at the time, bought the diamond on the Pasa’s behalf for 150 thousand gold pieces, bringing it back and handing it over. During the reign of Mahmud II, Tepedelenli Ali Pasa was killed on allegations of rebelling against the State, and his treasure was confiscated. The whole lot of precious jewelry was moved to the Ottoman Treasury, during the course of which the diamond purchased from Napoleon’s mother, subsequently becoming famous as the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, also entered the Treasury.
It is known that the stone known in France as the Pigot Diamond which was purchased by Tepedelenli Ali Pasa’s men was 86 carets. The Spoonmaker’s Diamond in the Treasury of Topkapi Museum is also 86 carets. Thus, the world-renowned Pigot diamond must be the Spoonmaker’s Diamond in Topkapi.
Actually, among the world’s 22 famous diamonds, the 191 caret diamond known as the Koh-I-nur (Mountain of Light) was found in India and is today in the British Royal Treasury. The diamond known as the Derya-i-nur or Sea of Light is held today in the National Bank of Iran. The Southern Star diamond of 128 carats found in Brazil in 1853, the Grand Mongol Diamond, and the Pigot or our Spoonmaker’s Diamond are among these 22 diamonds.
Experts are of the opinion that the two rows of 49 brilliants surrounding the Spoonmaker’s Diamondwere added later. These 49 brilliants were ordered arranged either by Tepedelenli Ali Pasa, or by Mahmud II. These brilliants provide an additional beauty to the Spoonmaker’s Diamond and increase its value by as much again.
The gold, the silver, the rubies, the emeralds of the Topkapi Palace Treasury notwithstanding, the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, has drawn the adoring, amazed looks of countless favorites, queens and mothers of sultans. A masterpiece of deathless beauty even today it sits alone in its case, smiling at its spectators. Just like a bouquet of light.