Iranian Crown Jewels

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An elaborate diamond and emerald Aigrette, set in silver. Part of the Iranian Crown Jewels.

The Imperial crown jewels of Iran (also known as the Imperial crown jewels of Persia) include several elaborate crowns and decorative thrones, thirty tiaras, and numerous aigrettes, a dozen bejeweled swords and shields, a vast number of unset precious gems, numerous plates and other dining services cast in precious metals and encrusted with gems, and several other more unusual items (such as a large golden globe with the oceans made of emeralds and the latitudes and longitudes marked in diamonds) collected by the Iranian monarchy from the 16th century (Safavid dynasty) on. The collection is housed at The Treasury of National Jewels (the official name) but is known colloquially as the Jewellery Museum. It is situated inside the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran on Tehran's Ferdowsi Avenue. The Imperial crown jewels of Iran are the largest set of displayed jewels in the world in state ownership in one location.[1] The museum is open to the public from 14:00 to 16:30 hrs except on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.[2] The museum has onsite guides with knowledge of Persian, English, French and Russian languages. There are also guide booklets available in English, Persian, French, Russian, German, Japanese and Arabic.[3]

Safavid and Afsharid Conquests[edit]

The majority of the items now in the collection were acquired by the Safavid dynasty, which ruled Iran from 1502 to 1736 AD. Afghans invaded Iran in 1719 and sacked the then capital of Isfahan and took the Iranian crown jewels as plunder. By 1729, however, after an internal struggle of nearly a decade, Nader Shah Afshar successfully drove the Afghans from Iran. In 1738, the Shah launched his own campaign against the Afghan homeland. After taking and raiding the cities of Kandahar and Kabul as well as several principalities in northern India, and sacking Delhi, the victorious Nader Shah returned to Iran with what remained of the plundered crown jewels as well as several other precious objects now found in the Iranian Treasury. These included several heavily jewel-encrusted thrones and numerous diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and other precious gemstones. Four of the most prominent acquisitions from this conquest were the Koh-i-Noor and Darya-ye Noor diamonds (both originating from India and still amongst the largest in the world), the Peacock Throne, and the Samarian Spinel.

Mohammad Reza Shah crowning his wife, Empress Farah, at their coronation in 1967.

Modern usage[edit]

The crown jewels were last used by the Pahlavi dynasty, the last to rule Iran. The splendor of the collection came to the attention of the western world largely through their use by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his Shahbanu (Empress) Farah Pahlavi during official ceremonies and state visits.

The Iranian crown jewels are considered so valuable that they are still used as a reserve to back Iranian currency (and have been used this way by several successive governments). In 1937, during the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi, ownership of the Imperial treasury was transferred to the state. The jewels were placed in the vaults of the National Bank of Iran, where they were used as collateral to strengthen the financial power of the institution and to back the national monetary system.[4] This important economic role is perhaps one reason why these jewels, undeniable symbols of Iran's monarchic past, have been retained by the current Islamic Republic[citation needed].

Public display[edit]

Because of their great value and economic significance, the Iranian crown jewels were for centuries kept far from public view in the vaults of the Imperial treasury. However, as the first Pahlavi Shah had transferred ownership of the crown jewels to the state, his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, decreed that the most spectacular of the jewels should be put on public display at the Central Bank of Iran.

When the Iranian revolution toppled the Pahlavi dynasty in 1979, it was feared that in the chaos the Iranian crown jewels had been stolen or sold by the revolutionaries. Although in fact some smaller items were stolen and smuggled across Iran's borders, the bulk of the collection remained intact. This became evident when the revolutionary government under the presidency of Hashemi Rafsanjani re-opened the permanent exhibition of the Iranian crown jewels to the public in the 1990s. They remain on public display[citation needed].

The Imperial Collection[edit]

Other items[edit]

See also[edit]

Media related to Crown jewels of Iran at Wikimedia Commons

References[edit]

Malecka, A. "The Mystery of the Nur al-Ayn Diamond", in: Gems & Jewellery: The Gemmological Association of Great Britain vol. 23, no. 6, July 2014, pp. 20–22.

Meen, V.B,; Tushingham, A.D. Crown jewels of Iran, Toronto 1968.

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External links[edit]


Coordinates: 35°41′21.34″N 51°25′10.83″E / 35.6892611°N 51.4196750°E / 35.6892611; 51.4196750