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The Jacob Diamond

  • The Jacob Diamond, believed to be the fifth largest diamond in the world, has a fascinating story behind how it wound up with the Nizam.
  • The early 20th century saw the fall of the Russian Empire which led to the Czar’s jewels being brought for sale to the wealthiest man in the world, the Nizam. The Jacob diamond, named after gem dealer Alexander Malcolm Jacob of South Africa was offered by him to the 6th Nizam.
  • The Nizam agreed to buy it and made an advance payment. Later, however, the Nizam was advised by the British Resident of Hyderabad to cancel the purchase. By then, however Jacob had spent the advance he had received entirely. The matter was taken to court.
  • This was the first time a Nizam had to appear before a court to testify. This was seen as a big insult to the Nizam.
  • He felt the diamond had brought bad luck upon him and stuffed the diamond in a dirty sock, hiding it away. His son, Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan later used this diamond as a paperweight.

Princie Diamond

The oval cushion-cut 34 carat Princie diamond is a beautiful pink diamond that first made its appearance in the world of jewellery at a Sotheby’s auction in London in February 1960. The newspapers of the time reported that the gem belonged to the Nizam of Hyderabad. The diamond sold for the princely sum of GBP 46,000 and was purchased by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Nageena - i- Zamarrud Kanval Wa Khurd

  • These are a collection of 22 rectangular and octagonal, intense green emeralds believed to have originated in Muzo mines of Columbia. Each gem varies from the other in terms of its weight. They weigh 413.50 carats collectively.
  • Jayant Chawlera (Government Valuer) suggests that these emeralds belonged to Czar Nicholas I of Russia and originated in Russian mines. Unfortunately, there is no documented evidence to confirm this.
  • The presence of the Columbian emeralds became noticeable in India around the 16th century in Mughal courts. It is believed that the “newness” of these emeralds, as opposed to those which came from Egypt, fetched the gems considerably higher prices.
  • It is believed that the 6th Nizam, Mehboob Ali Pasha bought these gems either from T R Tawler and Sons in Madras or from a Persian jeweller during the 1911 Delhi Durbar for 80 lakh rupees.


  • Deccan: Deccan Jewellery has unique enamelling in bold and striking colours. They are especially known for monochromatic enamelling in black, white and green. The pigments had unique names for e.g. the deep red was called 'Khoon-e-kabouter' (blood of the pigeon) while the deep blue is called 'Gardan-e-taus' (the neck of the peacock).
  • European: Indian Princely rulers were very receptive to European designs and techniques. The Baglus Almas Kanval patta tilai, a magnificent lacy open work diamond-encrusted belt with over 245 white and golden diamonds, weighing a little above 640 carats is an example of French craftsmanship in the Nizam’s collection. It is said that somebody walked into Oscar Massin’s (a renowned French jeweller) office with a wooden bowl full of Golconda diamonds to commission a belt for an “eastern potentate”. The resultant belt was exhibited at the Paris exposition in 1878 before becoming a part of the Nizam’s treasury.

    By the 1850s there was a steady stream of European-made, designed or manufactured jewellery flowing into India. Companies such as Cartier, Hamilton & Co. and Garrad’s sent their representatives to India to seek royal clientele and to source the precious stones their patrons were so fond of. Nizam Mir Mehboob Ali Khan, the sixth Asaf Jah, was a regular client of European jewellers. He appointed P. Orr and Sons as his court jewellers.



Chintak necklace or the Hyderabadi collar

This collar necklace is in the form of a series of rectangular plaques, each set with a pear-shaped table-cut diamond, within a green enamel border. A row of large Basra pearls are strung along the top, while the fringe below is made of drop-shaped elements set with diamonds, pearls and emerald beads.



The turban ornaments such as the sarpech were a symbol of divine monarchy. They symbolized the privileged status of the Nizam. It had its own cycle of evolution from a simple feather, two separate jewels to a combined gem studded piece of jewellery. The earliest turban ornament dates back to the 18th century.

Sarpatti (Turban Ornament)

This is a golden silver set with beautiful Golconda diamonds with polychrome enamelling on the back. The diamonds are exceptionally large.

Kalgi (Turban Ornament)

This Kalgi has black enamelling on the back, typical of Deccani art. Beyond the Deccan, enamelling flourished in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. In contemporary times, Rajasthan is the hub for enamel work.

Sarpech (Turban Ornament)

Over time Kalgi and Sarpatti evolved to be combined into one composite jewel, the Sarpech. This is an emerald sarpech with carved emeralds inset with diamonds.




Earrings were worn by all genders and most classes within the society. Traditionally they were believed to be crucial in the activation of vital accupressure points in the ear.
The following earrings were traditionally worn at the time, on different parts of the ear.

Karan Phool (Earrings)

It is in the shape of a flower with a jhumka at the bottom. The flower is suspended by two strings of pearl each including two emerald beads

Chowkarey (Earrings) or Pankhiyan (Earrings)

This intricate fan-shaped ornament is an example of the delicate craftsmanship of the Deccan. Uncut Golconda diamonds are studded into a gold circular base. Nine pearls are suspended from this. The base of each pearl features red enamelling in a flower pattern.

Chakriyan (Earrings)

A circular earring with pearls and a diamond in the centre. Turned over, this earring features intricate enamelling in red (khoon-i-kabootar) and green (gardan-i-taus).

Antiyan (Earrings)

These are gold-ringed earrings with an emerald bead between two pearls. Emeralds are known as Panna in Hindi and Zamarrud in Persian. The earliest known source for emeralds was the Cleopatra mines. With the discovery of the New World, the Muzo mines in Columbia became the principal source for emeralds.



Choti Taveez

Choti Taveez (braid amulet): Choti taveez was a piece of jewellery worn by every woman in the Nizam’s court. ‘Choti’ means a plait and ‘taveez’ is an amulet. The amulet is square in shape and is set with diamonds on both sides, strung on pearls and suspended from the plait. It lay over their right shoulder.

Taveez Band (Arm Amulet)

This simple yet elegant arm amulet carries an emerald in the centre with gold wiring on the periphery. There are 3 uncut Golconda diamonds on either sides. The reverse side features a dominance of deep red with gold detailing in a floral pattern.

Arm Amulet


Jugni (Necklace)

This magnificent necklace is an example of Hyderabadi jewellery which combines gold set gems with enamelling on the reverse. The pendant has been tied with multiple strings of white pearls. The dark green colour of the emerald with a hint of translucent green and navy blue are signatures of Deccan craftsmanship.

Padak (Pendant)

This gold pendant is set with diamonds and a pearl in the centre. The pendant has two birds on the top edge on either side. The reverse side has red and green enamelling with intricate floral designs.

Kanthi (Necklace)

The impressive feature about this necklace is the size of the diamonds used in it. The set features 12 large, 9 medium and numerous smaller diamonds, collectively weighing an impressive 357gms. The whole set has been encased in gold.

Zanjeer (Chain)

This enchanting necklace is a long enamelled chain set with diamonds and encased in gold. It has two layers of diamonds that are identical in size.



Karay (Bracelet)

This is an exquisite, thick gold bracelet, studded with several small-sized diamonds. The reverse side has an intricate floral pattern of red and blue coloured enamelling.

Pahunchiyan (Bracelet)

This fine and impressive flexible bracelet comprises of three rows of foil-backed, table-cut diamonds set in gold along with smaller pearls. The reverse is enamelled with red and green floral motifs, which are significant examples of the enamel craftsmanship of the Deccan.



Kangni (Bangles)

These diamond studded bangles are set in gold with extremely intricate patterns. It is a specimen of Deccan jewel craftsmanship, especially seen in the enamelling on the reverse side of the bangle in red, blue and green.



Bazuband (Armbands)

Dating to the 19th century, these Bazubands feature nine and eight emeralds respectively. Albeit of different shapes, these emeralds constitute one beautiful armband given their uniform red enamelled gold brackets. They weigh 132 gms.

Navratan (Armband)

Male members of the Court of the Nizam donned three armbands. One out of these was the Navratna. A Navratna traditionally consists of nine planetary gemstones which are ruby (sun), pearl (moon), emerald (Mercury), coral (Mars), topaz (Jupiter), diamond (Venus), sapphire (Saturn) hessonite (ascending lunar node) and cat’s eye (descending lunar node).



Angushtari Zamarrud

Dating to the 18th century, this unique ring features an emerald carved with floral patterns. Weighing 12 gms, the diameter of this gold bracketed ring is 3 cms.

Angushtari Larli

Dating to the 19th century, this is a spinel ring which weighs 12 g and is bordered with cut diamonds. While spinels are found in varieties of blue and purple, the pink tinted spinel was commonly known as the ‘Balas Ruby’.



Paizab (Anklet)

The anklet is studded with several uncut diamonds that are weaved in pure gold, as is evident on the reverse side.
It also comprises of gold screws so as to lock and adjust the anklet.

Tora Paon (Anklet)

The anklet is studded with several uncut diamonds that are weaved in pure gold, as is evident on the reverse side.
It also comprises of gold screws so as to lock and adjust the anklet.

Anwat Paon (Toe Rings)

Dating to the 18th century, these toe rings feature uncut Golconda diamonds encased in gold. Intricate floral Deccan enamelling celebrates the inner surface of the ring.



Baglus (Belt Buckle)

Dating to the late 19th century, this 75 gm belt buckle is square-shaped (6cms). It features thirteen differently shaped emeralds encased in a diamond studded gold base.

Kamar Patta (Belt)

This 18th-century belt buckle weighs an impressive 252 gms. It is made of gold and is inlaid with diamonds in a floral pattern. Three separate pieces are hinged together so as to allow the belt to perfectly fit the waist.

Patta Tilai (Belt)

This belt can be traced back to 19th century Deccan. It has a buckle, set with diamonds encased in gold. The highlight of the belt is the circular buckle in the centre which has a wheel-like arrangement of the beautifully cut diamonds.


Hyderabadi bazaars were resplendent with emeralds from Columbia, rubies and spinels from Burma and Sri Lanka, sapphires from Kashmir and pearls from the Gulf of Mannar and Bahrain. The following gems would feature most prominently:


  • One of the 5 great stones, the diamond is indigenous to India. Highlighted in religion and literature for its unattainability, the diamond is often associated with the Naag (snake) or Vajra (thunderbolt) and is also believed by some cultures to symbolise invincibility and light.
  • Indian jewellers devised a variety of cuts (for example Kanval - lotus shaped) aimed at retaining the size of the gem while bringing out its brightness.
  • By custom, the best diamonds that came out of the Golconda mines had to be offered first to the Nizam as a gift or Nazar. Only if not accepted by the Nizam, could it be sold in the market.


  • Amir Khusrau (famed Sufi poet), who laid his eyes upon the emeralds of the Deccan looted by Malik Kafur, the general of Alauddin Khilji, said “the emeralds were of water so fine, that if the blue sky broke itself into fragments none would equal them”.


  • Despite not being indigenous to India, rubies were present in large numbers in traditional Indian ornamentation, particularly in Southern India due to strong trading relations between Burma and the ports on the Coromandel.


  • Pearls or "Moti" are created by living shelled mollusks.
  • In India, pearl fisheries used to be located off the coast of Thoothukudi (erstwhile Tuticorin) and they also were traded in large quantities from Bahrain and Iraq. Of special importance are the “Basra pearls”.
  • Basra pearls are named after the town of Basra in Iraq as it was a centre of the global pearl trade since early medieval times.
  • The natural Basra pearl is extremely rare and it was considered auspicious to even glance at it once in one’s lifetime.
  • These pearls featured greatly in the Nizams’ jewellery collection.


  • Hyderabad was incorporated into the Union of India on September 18, 1948.
  • Over the following decades, the Government of India imposed wealth and inheritance taxes on the Maharajas and annexed lands under every ruler, cutting off large chunks off their revenue stream.
  • Unable to maintain their lifestyle as they did before, they started liquidating their jewels from the treasuries to get revenue. Numerous ornaments were broken up into smaller pieces and sold privately.
  • When the Nizam, Osman Ali Khan realized the gravity of the situation, he decided to take some measures to save his heirs from the uncertainties of the future.
  • He allocated his wealth between 54 trusts from 1949 and 1964, endowing each with large sums of cash and jewels. The most important of these trusts was “H.E.H. The Nizam’s Jewellery Trust”. He mandated that the jewels in this trust could only be sold post his death and the death of his son Azam Jah.
  • Osman Ali Khan died in 1967 and his eldest son Azam Jah passed away three years later. The trustees began the process of dissolution of the trust, distributing what was meant as gifts to the grandchildren and setting aside what was to be sold. Only in 1972 did the trust contact the Government with an offer to sell the collection.
  • By 1979, the negotiations over the collection led to a number of cases. The Supreme Court dismissed all previous cases and ordered an open auction for the sale of the jewellery. However, this judgement was challenged by various stakeholders.
  • This case continued for many years which culminated in the Government deciding to purchase the entire collection at an amount of Rs. 217,81,89,128 inclusive of interest.
  • The final negotiations took place in Mumbai but the transaction was not made. It was only after further legal challenges was the transaction finally made on 16th January 1995 and the Nizam’s jewellery was deposited in the Reserve Bank of India.