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Nizams' Jewellery

The Nizams' jewellery is one of the largest and rich- est collections of jewels in India. The collection had remained in the custody of "H.E.H. Nizam Jewellery Trust" and "H.E.H. Nizam Supplemental Jewellery Trust" formed by the last Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan in 1951-1952 to safeguard the ancestral wealth of the family. The trustees kept this treasure of great historical value in the vaults of Hong Xong Bank. When the Government of India acquired this collection in 1995, after a prolonged legal battle, it was shifted to the vaults of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Mumbai, where it remained till 29th June 2001. The first ever exhibition took place at the National Museum in 2001.

Superb and rare, as the collection comprising 173 precious jewels and jewellery items of exquisite workmanship is, it covers a period ranging from 18th century to the early 20th century. The collection includes sarpeches, necklaces, belts and buckles, pairs of bracelets and bangles, earrings, armlets, toe rings, finger rings, pocket watch and watch chains, buttons and cufflinks, etc. While the diamonds from the celebrated mines of Golconda and Colombian emeralds predominate, the Burmese rubies and spinels and pearls from Basra and the Gulf of Mannar, off the east coast of India, also form part of the Exhibition. All the jewels are flamboyant, yet amidst the dazzle of precious gems, individual pieces stand out by virtue of their antiquity and the merit of their craftsmanship. Most outstanding among this collection is the Imperial Diamond now known as Jacob diamond, weighing 184.75 carats, which is a fabulous weight of any single gemstone. It is an invaluable sparkling diamond by all means, be its brilliant cutting, clarity and colour. It is almost double the size of Kohinoor Diamond (in the present shape). Another item is a collection of 22 unset emerald pieces. Also, an exceptionally large variety of cut emeralds, emerald drops, emerald beads, Taveez and many other shapes of Jewellery from Colombia and Russia and two ornamented belts, one studded with a cut and the other with a carved emerald have their own charm. 

The quantity of emeralds may run into a couple of thousand carats. The beautiful seven stringed pearl necklace (satlarah) is a unique creation and its weight and size are simply mind-boggling. There are approximately 40,000-50,000 chows (one chow = Carat x Carat x 0.65% number of pearls) pearls in this collection. Besides, many necklaces with button pearls and diamond beads are exceptional for their extraordinary shape and cutting. Most of the Jadau (stone-studded) items showing large, rose cut and flat cut diamonds total a few thousand carats in weight. Of the many rings with large diamonds of different colours, one set with a Alexandrite stone, perhaps from the famous Russian mines, is of unusually large size bearing testimony to the nature's excellent gift - it changes its colours sparklingly when viewed under artificial light. The collection of pocket watch and watch chains studded with diamonds, emeralds and precious stones are noteworthy for their wide variety and intricate workmanship. It may be pointed out that some excellent enameled works from Jaipur, Delhi, Awadh and Deccan form part of this collection, which is comparable to the designs and details in the miniature paintings of these areas.

The value of this world renowned Jewellery is inestimable. The National Museum is proud to showcase once again the Nizams' Jewellery in a new ambience. The exhibition will remain on view from 27th September, 2007 onwards.


Fine Deccani Workmanship can be seen in these armbands. The use of silver outlines for the central diamonds and the deep red and green palette in the floral motifs in enamel on the back is manifest proof of the region.

This pair is made up of three hinged panels with openwork foliate design set with foiled table-cut diamonds.

Besides their spiritual values, jewels are greatly associated with the beauty as it is the woman who has been adorning herself by wearing them from the time immemorial. Their mythical and magical impact continue to hound the human psyche and the symbolic value and power differs from one gemstone to another.




This amazing belt buckle made in three parts hinged together for a better fit, has over 55 carats of diamonds, the central 5 weighing approximately 30 carats. All 146 stones are foil set in kundan setting and show the exquisite quality of Deccani craftsmanship. It is only here that patently unmatched gems can be set together so that they seem to be chosen for their very shape to fit the piece.

So fabulous is the collection of Nizams' Jewellery that it has created a stir, an unprecedented excitement and sensation among the people in India and gemologist all over the world. The very mention of Nizams' Jewellery reminds us of a bye-gone era of dazzling grandeur and splendour witnessed only in the Indian Royal Courts. No wonder that it evokes global interest.



This is the collection of 22 unset emeralds weighing around 412 carats, the kind of which is not seen elsewhere. The centre emerald is of 60 carats approximately. Finest in quality, lustrous in appearance, outstanding in colour and size, the gems are so beautiful that a good gemologist will say that they originated in Colombia. The Colombian gems were shipped to India by the Portuguese from 16th century onwards and were sought by the Mughals Emperors.



This pair of anklets (paizeb), in the form of interlocking vertical repeats hinged with each other set with old-cut Golcunda diamonds, with a crest of pearls along the upper edge. Along the lower edge pearl shaped drops set with foiled diamonds form a fringe.

The reverse is decorated with enamelling of the highest quality. The design follows typical Mughal designs of foliage in red and green with mauvish blue and white highlights.

Such ornaments of Mughal design were made for all important women of the Royal household.


(Turban Ornament)

This is the proud ornament that used to adorn Turbans in all the princely states of India. It turned out to be as a mark of high distinction among the royals. They appear quite often in the court of Nizam and the Sikh court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. As Queen Victoria became Empress of India in 1857, no Indian Prince was supposed to adorn his Turban or head with a crown, and this perhaps explains the emergence of Sarpech as main head ornament that had its own style transmitting the regality. A Sarpech was earned or conferred by Emperor or king for great deeds, service and acts of bravery. Obviously, not everyone was entitled to wear it, associated as it was with princes and others. It has a fixed shape

with certain variations in detail and materials. They are seen in Indian paintings of the times. The broad sarpatti containing several pieces beautifully hinged together for smooth tying and secured with strings and tassels round the head, seems to be the only head ornament. What actually made it flamboyant and enhanced its beauty was the vertical piece that rises from the centre of the band in the form of a Kalgha (referred to as 'paisley' inclining at the top towards one direction) generally with a pearl pendant from it. This beautiful crafted ornament set with matching diamonds gives a feeling of richness that could happen only in India of the Maharajas.



The Jacob diamond, believed to have been found as a rough stone in an African mine, was brought over by a Syndicate in Amsterdam where it was cut in a style that prevailed about 100 years ago. It was brought to India by one dealer Alexander Malcon Jacob, a mysterious figure and confidant of Indian Maharajas, reported to have been born in Italy as a Roman Catholic, whose full name appears as Ali Mohammed Yacoub, immortalised in Kipling's novel, Kirn, as Lurgan Sahib of the British Secret Service. He sold the diamond to the Vlth Nizam Mahboob Ali Pasha in 1891. Since its transaction for the purchase led to a criminal suit and the Nizam had to suffer the indignity of giving evidence before the Commission, so far an unprecedented event in the history of the Nizams, he seems to have developed an aversion to wearing jewels. Pasha was also a ruler having different tastes and was known for being closest to the populace of Hyderabad. He lived in style, wore English costumes and was one of the finest shooters of his times. He changed his residences from one place to another, enjoyed the Life's pleasures. Pasha

lived in a dream world and enjoyed the life in full. His wardrobe in the museum at Purani Haveli in Hyderabad is a feast to the eyes for being one of the largest collections in the world. He is said to have never worn a dress second time. The weight of this diamond is 184.75 carats approximately, an unimaginable weight for a single diamond by all means, and is a sheer delight for the visitor, be its brilliance, cutting and flawless colour. Unlike the famous Koh-i-Noor, the Jacob diamond can be branded as a nonviolent diamond which changed hands only twice in its history of existence. Estimated to be worth 400 crores in its international price, this sparkling diamond is a masterpiece. But what is of an enduring interest is the fact that Maboob Ali Pasha paid no attention to its greatness and kept it as a simple stone of his collection. His son and the last Nizam, Osman Ali Khan found it by chance after several years of death of his father in the toe of his father's slipper in Chowmahalla Palace, and used it as paperweight.



Seven stringed Basrah Pearl Necklace commonly known as Satlada is yet another masterpiece that everybody would like to set his eyes at. It speaks beauty in true sense of the word. Magnificent in looks and containing graded Basra pearls with terminals of gold set with two large sized flat diamonds with an exceptionally brillant enamel work, it is like a dream that has been shaped and crafted in matching colours, quality and size.

Chow = Carat x Carat x 0.65 No. Of pearls
(Chow is an Arabic weight in trading the real pearls)



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