Jewels that re-tell Hyderabad Nizam’s grandeur

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 Priceless royal jewels which once adorned some of the most powerful Hyderabad Nizams, bear testimony to the sheer grandeur of the Asaf Jahi dynasty rulers. Open in Delhi third time now, a public exhibition has displayed 173 dazzling pieces of jewelry, including one of the world’s biggest diamonds — the Jacob Diamond. Jewels of India: The Nizam’s Jewellery Collection”, a temporary exhibition at the National Museum, has the Jacob (or Imperial) Diamond as its centerpiece, amid panels of richly-studded crown jewels, “sarpechs” headbands, waistbands, necklaces, rings, earrings, and other jewelry. The collection of jewels has come to the museum after 2001 and 2007.

They were purchased in 1995 by the Indian government for Rs 218 crore from the last Nizam’s trusts, The Jacob Diamond is deemed as the seventh largest in the world, it said. Mined from South Africa in the late 1800s, the oval diamond was cut and polished to its present weight of 184.5 carats. The diamond is named after jeweler Alexander Malcolm Jacob, who sold it to the sixth Nizam, Mahboob Ali Khan — a deal which ended up in a criminal lawsuit. Having brought much conflict to the Nizam, the diamond was tossed in an old rag. It was found stashed in an old slipper and used as a paperweight by the last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, who continued to rule Hyderabad till he signed the Instrument of Accession in 1948. The state merged with the Union of India after over 200 years of rule by a single dynasty.

Such was the splendor of the Nizams that jewelry worn by royal men and women now represent some of the finest jewels and cultural heritage globally. Now temporarily housed in a highly-protected chamber of the Museum, the studded rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and pearls dating back to 18th-20th centuries, glitter in dim light. What also interests visitors is early photographs of the royal Nizam families, posing with their fine jewelry and costumes, that we see replicated in films, television, and theatre. The people are long gone after the last Nizam died in 1967 but have left a rich legacy for the country. On view till May 5 here, the precious exhibits tell tales about rich Indian artistry and a lifestyle unmatched.

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