Nizam's Jewels - Timeless Treasures of India

The Jewels of the Nizams of Hyderabad State are the largest and richest collection of jewels in India. The jewels belong to the Nizams.The value of this world renowned Jewellery is inestimable.

Once part of Nizams’ state regalia and personal heritage, the ornaments date back to early 18th century to 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.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.

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 thousand carats, and pearls exceeding 40 thousand chows. The collection includes gemstones, sarpeech(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.

Noteworthy among them is a beautiful seven stringed pearl necklace (satlarah) is a unique creation with 465 pearls embedded in it 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.

Among the exhibited pieces, the imperial diamond, known as Jacob diamond, is a fabulous piece, Weighing 184.75 carats, this sparkling beauty is double the size of the Koh-i-Noor diamond and is said to be the seventh largest in the world. It was acquired by the sixth Nizam, Mir Mahabub Ali Pasha in 1891 from a Jewish trader, A.K. Jacob and hence the name.

The Indian government bought the jewels for 218 crore (about US$70 million), after the death of Mir Osman Ali Khan in 1967. In 1991, Sotheby's estimated the collection to be worth US$162 million. The jewels were originally vaulted with HSBC(Hong Kong Bank), but they are currently kept at the Reserve Bank of India in Bombay.

Belonging to the Asaf Jah dynasty, which was established in 1724, the jewellery has a historic past, and a colourful one at that.

It was in 1972 that the jewels of the Nizams of Hyderabad, rumoured to be one of the most exceptional collection, were offered for sale to the Government of India for Rupees 218 crore. The deal was struck. However, it has taken almost 23 years to finally acquire the jewels, after prolonged court cases and colossal expenses.

The 173 piece collection was built up over seven generations of the Asaf Jabs or the Nizams as rulers were called. Although the Nizams ruled over the Deccan, they had adopted the lifestyle, court traditions and administrative practices of the Mughals.The jewellery, therefore, is a synthesis of Mughal, deccani, as well as European influences. It reflects the ethos of a dynasty that originated in the Mughal court, ruled the Deccan and was a staunch ally of the British empire.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.

It was during the seventh and the last Nizam's -Mir Osman Ali Khan- time that care was taken to preserve the timeless treasure. It was difficult for the Nizams, who had a large family and a retinue of servants, to take of their own.It was then that Mir Osman Ali Khan, with a view to safeguarding this fabulous wealth, started liquidating a portion of his astronomical fortune and allocated it to a series of trusts. The most unique of these was the Nizam Jewellery Trust, being the only one to have been established by an Indian ruler. He also created a supplementary Jewellery Trust, incorporated in 1951, being the only one to have been established by an Indian ruler. He also created another supplementary Jewellery Trust after allocating gifts to his grandsons in 1952. The trustees kept this treasure of great historical value in the vaults of the Hongkong Bank.


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.

SARPECH(Turban Ornament)

There is a very special sarpench which was made for a young prince, Mahabub Ali, when he ascended the throne. It is called 'Bachkana sarpench' .The brilliance of Golconda diamonds set in this piece outshines that in any other piece. A solitaire set in gold, with five smaller diamonds on each side, has on its top an exquisite bird crafted with small diamonds for its plumage and a ruby as its eye. Interestingly, the bird holds a tiny 'taveez' (lucky charm) in its beak.


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)