Jewels of the Nizams
The Jewels of the Nizams of Hyderabad State are the largest and richest collection of jewels in India. The jewels belonged to the Nizams. After merger of their kingdom, the Nizam and his heirs were barred by the Indian government from removing the collection, claiming it was a national treasure. The heirs eventually were forced to sell it at a much reduced price.
Once part of Nizams’ state regalia and personal heritage, the ornaments date from the early 18th century to the early 20th century. Crafted in gold and silver and embellished with enameling, the jewels are set with Colombian emeralds, diamonds from the Golconda mines, Burmese rubies and spinels, and pearls from Basra and the Gulf of Mannar.
There are 173 jewels, which includes over 25 thousand diamonds, weighing over 12,000 carats (2.4 kg). There are also 2000 emeralds, some of them Colombian, which weigh over 10,000 carats (2.0 kg), and pearls exceeding 40 thousand chows. The collection includes gemstones, turban ornaments, necklaces and pendants, belts and buckles, earrings, armbands, bangles and bracelets, anklets, cufflinks and buttons, watch chains, and rings, toe rings, and nose rings. Among them is the seven-stringed Basrah pearl necklace, known as Satlada, which has 465 pearls embedded in it.
History of the jewels
In 1995, the Indian government finally bought the jewels for 218 crore (about US$70 million), many years after the death of Mir Osman Ali Khan in 1967. In reality, the Nizam's trustees agreed to sell the famous collection to India in lieu of tax. At first the government tried to buy the collection for less than $25 million. Fifteen years later India's Supreme Court finally fixed a price of about $65 million, much less than the $350 million the family (and the auction house Sotheby's) estimated the jewels were worth. Sole legitimate heir Mukarram Jah's share of the sale was $20 million, but lawsuits from the Nizam's illegitimate descendants have ensured that he has never seen the money, as "the case disappeared down the black hole of India's imponderable legal system."
The Jacob Diamond, formerly known as the Imperial Diamond, weighing 184.79 carats (36.958 g), is ranked third or seventh largest in the world, and double the size of the Kohinoor diamond. It is believed to have been found in an African mine. Reputedly, the austere Nizam had used it as a paperweight The diamond itself is valued at over $150 million, far more than what the Indian government paid for the entire 173-jewel collection.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2007)|
- National Museum, NewDelhi. "Exhibitions at National Museum of India,New Delhi (India) - Nizams' Jewellery". nationalmuseumindia.gov.in (in English). Archived from the original on 2009-04-02. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
- BBC News | SOUTH ASIA | Indian jewels set to dazzle