Nizam's jewellery all set to dazzle viewers at National Museum

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New Delhi, Sep 25 (UNI) After a gap of six years, the National Museum here is all set to exhibit the fabled jewels of the Nizams of Hyderabad, estimated at a staggering Rs 10,000 crore, for a public viewing amid unprecedented round-the-clock hi-tech surveillance.

Rated as one of the world's priceless collections of gold, diamond and pearl artefacts, the fabulous collection, which has triggered passions and envy for their sheer brilliance and intricate designs, will be on public display from Thursday.

ICCR President Karan Singh will inaugurate the exhibition tomorrow while Culture Minister Ambika Soni will preside over the function.

About a 100 Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel, besides National Museum's own guards, have made tight security arrangements to protect the fabulous jewels, a Museum official told UNI.

On the display will be the 173-set collection of 348 pieces of gold and diamond and will include the 184.75-carat uncut Jacob, the third largest diamond of the world, a seven-strand pearl necklace strung with 150 large and 230 small pearls, besides some jewel-studded arm bands, head ornaments and belt buckles.

The collection was built over two centuries by the Nizams, who ruled Hyderabad State from 1712 till 1948, when the princely state was merged with the Indian Union.

In 1991, the international auctioneer Sotheby's had valued the collection at 162 million dollars.

The jewellery was first placed on public display at the National Museum in 2001. The same year, it was exhibited at Hyderabad's Salarjung Museum.

The Central government had acquired the jewellery, after a 17-year legal battle, from the the Nizam's Jewellery Trust on January 12, 1995, paying Rs 218 crore. According to conservative estimates, it is now valued today at Rs 10,000 crore in the international market.

The jewels date from the early 18th to the early 20th centuries, and have mixed origins like Burmese rubies and spinels, Colombian emeralds, and pearls from Basra and the Gulf of Mannar.

A double strand diamond necklace came with the annexation of the Adil Shahi kingdom of Bijapur, while the Nizam's help to the British for defeat and death of Tipu Sultan gave him a share of the booty, including a pair of emerald, diamond and pearl armbands that once belonged to Tipu.

Among the most beautiful pieces of the Nizam's collection are the various sarpech, the gold turban ornament set with diamonds and either rubies or emeralds, with a cocky jewelled feather or bird surmounting the band.

But most impressive of all is the Jacob diamond, the single Imperial diamond purchased by the sixth Nizam Mahboob Ali Pasha in 1891 from a dealer named Alexander Malcolm Jacob, a transaction which landed the Nizam before a commission of inquiry.

Surveillance cameras have been installed all over the exhibition hall to monitor the movement of the visitors, who will not be allowed to carry mobile phones and cameras inside. Only 50 visitors will be allowed to enter the hall at one time and they will be taken through the main exhibition area or vault where the jewels are being displayed in 29 showcases amid special lighting arrangements.

Domestic visitors will be charged Rs 50 while foreign visitors will have to shell out Rs 500.

UNI

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