Ancient India had immortal Vedas to offer for posterity. Medieval India had vast collections of precious stones such as emeralds, rubies, diamonds, garnets, sapphires and priceless jewelry made out of gold, silver, platinum apart from many magical – mystical antique-pieces. They continue to enthrall the current generations, both within India and abroad. One of the arguably most priceless set of such kingly Collections has been the fabled, so-called ‘Nizam Jewellery Collection’.
Its ownership vested on the Government of India after a protracted court-battle and approval by Parliament consequent to a notional price fixed through the Honourable Supreme Court of India. But like all matters of law, this too did it’s umpteen number of rounds starting from the Chief Judge’s Court in city civil courts of Hyderabad city with interspersed wars in criminal courts, Legislative Assembly and even the CBI and Interpol being alerted for smuggling away by few self-styled powers of heirs of the last Nizam of Hyderabad.
It’s history, both legal as well as other facets make very interesting reading and help modern students of law, politics and cultural history grasp the nuances and the emotions which adorned these jewels.
This Collection is in the news again as they are put up for public display at the National Museum at New Delhi (expectedly, under high security). It is titled as: ‘Jewels of India: the Nizams Jewellery Collection.’
This particular collection consists of 173-items. Pride of place is occupied by the ‘Jacob’s Diamond’ which is a diamond weighing 184.75 carats, one of the largest in world and said to be double the size of much praised ‘Kohinoor Diamond’ that is prized possession of Her Majesty, the Queen of England’.
Among others are the seven-stringed Basra-pearls necklace that has a most serene and magnificent look. (The pearls of Basra are reported to have last been mined in 1952). This masterpiece has gold sets with two large sized flat diamonds with an exceptionally brilliant enamel work.
Then there is the ‘Sarpech’ , which used to adorn turbans in almost every princely State of India : it is one of the several pieces beautifully hinged together to permit a smooth-tying.
It is the third such exhibition of such rare and precious gems and jewels belonging to the period ranging from 18th century to the early 20th century.
The exhibition offers a rare chance to members of the general public to see the rarest of rare collections of jewelries in the world and feel the magical impact of the every one of these items on display.
The first exhibition was held in 2001, in which 173 objects were put on display. The exhibition will remain open for public viewing from February 19, 2019 to May 5, 2019 from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
This has come in wake of a letter addressed by one of the architects of this historical case matter (OP 1/95) and the chief counsel of Princess Fatima Fouzia, the eldest grand-daughter of the last Nizam of Hyderabad, HEH Nawab Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, Pamarty Venkataramana, to the President of India urging to shifts all ‘Nizam Treasures’ to National Museum in New Delhi most urgently and in national interest.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has now been requested by Pamarty Venkataramana to consider the monetisation of the precious Nizam Jewellery Collection’ as it would help erase external debt of India without more delay and as he puts it – ‘the purpose of depriving the sale or smuggling away of this vast collection by vested interests to foreign shores (even braving physical assault), is because it is a ‘National treasure and such natural antique stones don’t grow on trees either not in laboratories’. No two opinions about these wise words.
Will the Government of India capitalise in this prized possession any time soon? Time will tell.