When a particular shiny rock has its own name, and hundreds of years of documentation, you have to figure that it’s quite rare and valuable. You could also guess that its history would involve some question of who the “rightful” owner should be. Many of the world’s largest gemstones got where they are today after a long sequence of questionable moves, including gifts bestowed under duress, political ploys, tribute to an overlord, spoils of war, slavery, looting, and outright theft. In between those episodes are also the more benign acts of buying, selling, gifting, and inheritance, which only muddy the rights of ownership further.
As you might also guess, the British royal family ended up with an outsized proportion of the world’s largest and most controversial gemstones. Three of them can be seen in the photo above: the Black Prince’s Ruby, on the front of King Charles’ crown, the Cullinan II just below it, and the Lahore Diamond on Queen Camilla’s necklace. Read about ten gemstones with less-than-wholesome stories behind them at Mental Floss.
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