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The Crowning Glitter of Golconda

National Museum, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, New Delhi.

Throughout Indian history, jewels and precious gems were passed on from generation to generation, becoming the property of the succeeding ruler, as long as he had the wisdom and courage to retain them. In the public eye, the incalculable wealth of the Asaf Jah dynasty (1724 - 1948) the longest rule by a single dynasty over the Deccan and their sparkling history is linked with luxury and grandiosity.

The wealth that was once a part of the wealthiest empire now lays tucked in the darkness of a bank vault. The riches comprise of 173 pieces of rare value and antiquity which are only a small fraction of the Nizams legendary heritage. Among them are a finely enameled pocket watches; Burmese rubies studded sarphechs’; seven-strand pearl necklace strung with 150 large and 230 small pearls, with a two-diamond pendant attached to it; a pair of bracelets studded with 270 diamonds, 22 fine partially uncut and unmounted emeralds weighing 414.25 carats; and a diamond-set belt made in France by Oscar Massi Pieres. There are also rings, brooches, buttons, studded swords, diamond-studded images of camels, gold ingots and much more. The origin of names of these jewels are of Urdu and Persian descent.

During our conversation with the curator, Sanjib Kumar Singh, when asked why is the exhibition taking place after a vast gap of 12 years? Sanjib says, "these are the first ever documented jewels in the Indian history, out of which there are pieces in this collection which are the rarest of the rare and there isn’t a second piece of. The very first exhibition was in 2001, the second in 2007 and now in 2019, we want the public to always be inclined and fascinated towards the history, authenticity, and the value of these priceless jewels.”

Chitman Kanwar Ahuja

Chitman Kanwar Ahuja is a feature writer at L'Officiel India. She is a silver jewellery hoarder and an aesthete of all arts. You can find her unraveling new stories day in and day out.