Jewels of Nizams to go on display

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 August, 1997, 12:00am

The fabled jewels of the Nizams of Hyderabad, once considered the world's richest rulers, will be put on permanent public display later this year at the National Museum in New Delhi.

Museum officials said it would be the first time the Hyderabad jewels, considered the largest collection put together by succeeding nizams, or rulers, would go on show.

The 173 jewellery pieces, including the 187.75-carat Jacob diamond, the seventh largest in the world, strings of rare grey pearls, brooches, buckles and turban ornaments, studded with rubies, emeralds and diamonds, are now in a Bombay bank vault.

The collection, which also includes a matchless set of 22 loose emeralds weighing 414.25 carats, has lain there since it was acquired by the Government two years ago for a mere 2.18 billion rupees (HK$472 million).

The purchase followed 20 years of litigation involving the Nizams' Jewellery Trust headed by Prince Mukarram Jah, the eighth and current nizam. The prince, however, cannot use the nizam title as royalty was abolished in 1970.

According to the will of the prince's grandfather, Sir Osman Ali Khan, the jewellery was to be sold three years after the death of his son in 1970. As international dealers arrived for the auction, it was stopped by the federal government to prevent national treasures from leaving the country.

The nizam's trustees challenged the decision and after years of court hearings an arbitrator was appointed who fixed the paltry sale price for the priceless objects. Prince Jah had no choice but to accept. Dispite his magnificent ancestry, the prince has almost no access to funds.