National Jewels Museum

National Jewels Museum , tehran
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National Jewels Museum

The National Jewels Museum (Crown Jewels, before the Revolution) was organized by virtue of a legal bill passed in 1937. According to contemporary mineralogists and gemmologists, the treasury of the Museum of Jewel is the richest and most dazzling single collection of jewels in the world. Even for those who have never been able to summon up interest in precious stones, this collection in the closely guarded vaults is a breath-taking experience.

The invaluable treasury has a fascinating history that goes back several centuries. The jewels have been collected by numerous kings and conquerors who sometimes went to great lengths to obtain them and were so elated by their possession that some of them had their names, together with dates, engraved on certain big-sized gems.

Today these inscriptions constitute more accurate historical records than the voluminous literature on the subject. Exact information on the gems and jewels of the pre-Safavid ear is not available, and thus the history of the collection begins with the latter ear (1502-1736 AD). Safavid kings showed great interest in gems and jewels, and dispatched agents to India, the Ottoman Empire, France, and Italy to hunt and buy such gems and jewel and carry them to Esfahan, the then capital of Iran.

During the reign of Sultan Hossein the last Safavid king, Mahmud Afghan invaded Iran and the royal treasury was plundered by the Afghans, who did not hesitate to take some of them to India. Upon becoming king of Iran in 1736, Nader Shah Afshar in a bid to take back the jewels dispatched agents to India. However, finding out that the Indian rulers did not want to return the jewels, he led a military expedition to India in 1738. Mohammad Shah of India offered money, jewelry including the Darya-ye Nur (Sea of Light) sister-stone of Kuh-e Nur (Mountain of Light) diamond, the Peacock Throne, and arms to Nader Shah; part of which was perished before reaching Iran. After his return to Iran, Nader Shah sent part of the booties to the neighboring monarchs as souvenir, and donated a major portion of it to the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad. When Nader Shah was murdered in 1747, a certain Ahmand Beg looted the treasury, and among the articles, which were taken out of Iran and never, returned, was the famous Kuh-e Nur (Mountain of Light) diamond. The gem was later taken to England where the East India Company took possession of it. In 1850 it was presented to Queen Victoria. At present it is kept in the Tower of London.

What remained, was preserved almost intact until the Qajar period, when the collection was put together and most of the loose pieces were set on crowns, cornets, thrones, and a globe. The present gallery was built in 1956 and, five years later, with the establishment of Bank Markazi Iran (Central Bank of Iran); the collection was transferred to the Bank.

More than 40 showcases at the gallery house numerous priceless jewels, gems, and many antique articles of decoration, warfare, and items of every day use, each being generously and lavishly ornamented and studded with hundreds of precious stones, turquoise, and pearls. The arrangement of showcases has changed from time to time, but among the highlights are:

The Darya-ye Nur, Sea of Light, a 182-carat diamond, which is the world?s largest pink diamond measuring 25 mm wide, 10 mm thick, and 38 mm long. It bears the name of Fath Ali Shah on one side.
The noted gika (aigrette) of Nader Shah, weighing 781 carats in all, which probably dates to the reign of Fath Ali Shah.
The extraordinary Globe of Jewels completed in 1869 at the behest of Nasser od-Din Shah. It is no doubt, the most precious globe ever made. Its frame as well as the stand are of fine gold, weighing 34 kg, and thickly set with 51,366 precious stones. The total weigh of these gems alone amounts to 18,200 carats. The main incentive of the Qajar King in ordering the making of the globe was to transform the innumerable loose stones of the Treasury, kept for years in sealed leather bags, into an article of artistic nature and not easily liable to dissipation. See it for yourself and spot the various countries amid the flash of the stones!
Address: Bank Markazi Iran building, Ferdowsi Ave, and Opp Turkish Embassy.

Visiting hours: 14:00-16:30 Sundays and Tuesdays. (Children under 15 are not allowed in. Needless to say, photography is not permitted inside the gallery). Tel: 3110101-9.

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