The diamond called Orloff was bought in Amsterdam (being on this account sometimes known as the "Amsterdam" diamond) by Prince Orloff for the Empress Catharine II of Russia for the sum of 1,400,000 Dutch florins. It was the largest of the diamonds comprised in the Russian crown jewels, and formed the termination of the imperial sceptre; it is a stone of the finest water, perfectly pure and with a brilliant luster.
This stone has had a chequered career; it is said at one time to have formed one of the eyes of an idol in the Brahmin temple on the island of Sheringha In, in the Cauvery River near Trichinopoly. It was stolen from here, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, by a French soldier, passed into the hands of an English ship's captain, and so found its way into Europe, and in 1791 was bought in Amsterdam by Prince Orloff for the Empress Catharine II of Russia for the sum of 1,400,000 Dutch florins.
300 Carats when found, color: slightly bluish green, clarity: exceptionally pure, cut: Mogul-cut rose, source: India. This gem may be found in the Diamond Treasury of Russia in Moscow. There are so many historical episodes involving the Orloff. First, it may have been set at one time as the diamond eye of Vishnu's idol (one of the Hindu Gods) in the innermost sanctuary temple in Sriangam, before being stolen in the 1700s by a French deserter. However, the deserter just dug one eye from its socket, because he was terror-stricken at the thought of retribution, so he couldn't take the other. He went to Madras, and sold the stone quickly to an English sea-captain for 2,000 pounds. The time passed, the stone arrived at Amsterdam where the Russian count Grigori Orloff, an ex-lover of Empress Catherine the Great was residing. He heard about rumors of the stone, and he bought the diamond for 90,000 pounds and took it back to Russia for Catherine's favor. The stone has been called the Orloff since then. Catherine received his gift and had it mounted in the Imperial Sceptre. She gave a marble palace to Grigori in exchange for the Orloff. However, Grigori couldn't get Catherine's love. Grigori Orloff passed away at the nadir of disappointment in 1783. In 1812 the Russians, fearing that Napoleon with his Grand Army was about to enter Moscow, hid the Orloff in a priest's tomb. Napoleon supposedly discovered the Orloff's location and went to claim it. However, as a solider of the Army was about to touch the Orloff, a priest's ghost appeared and pronounced a terrible curse upon the Army. The Emperor, Napoleon went away without the Orloff.