Royal scion writes to PM seeking suitable setting for Nizam’s jewellery

V Rishi Kumar Hyderabad | Updated on June 15, 2021

Exquisite jewellery from the Nizam’s collection being kept for public view at Salarjung Museum, as 173 pieces were brought back to Hyderabad for display from December 31, 2005 (file photo)   -  The Hindu

Valued at ₹99,000 crore, the exquisite collection is languishing in govt vaults

It’s one of the most coveted jewellery collections in the world. The stunning jewellery of the Nizams of Hyderabad, valued at around ₹99,000 crore, boasts some 173 exquisite pieces, including emerald studded crowns, dazzling diamond sets, and prized pearl necklaces of unmatched brilliance. But sadly, the precious pieces are all locked away in a government vault, hidden from all eyes.

One of the descendants of the Nizam family has now written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting that the unique collection be displayed in a specially constructed high security museum in Hyderabad. Himayat Ali Mirza, great grandson of the Nizam told BusinessLine, “In 1995, my uncle Prince Muffakam Jah, myself, and the Nizam’s Trustees handed over 173 pieces of precious jewellery, including a Jacobian diamond, used as a paperweight by my grandfather (alone possibly costing more than ₹10,000 crore) to the Government for ₹217 crore.”

Indian’s heritage

He writes, “We managed to do so after my mother Princess Fatima Fouzia stalled the sale of the precious jewellery, and injudicious proposed transaction, to international buyers by approaching the Court. Our thinking was this is India’s heritage and it should remain in India. It is now more than 26 years since we handed it over to the Government as a national heritage. We believe people should get to see them rather than being confined to lockers.”

In his letter he writes, “His Exalted Highness the Nizam VII Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, the ruler of the erstwhile State of Hyderabad, the richest man in the world at the time, had created a trust comprising unparalleled rare items of jewellery which was the cynosure of all connoisseurs among the most reputed jewellers and diamantaires of the world. I am his great grandson, and grandson of His Highness Late Walashan Prince Moazzam Jah Bahadur, second son of His Exalted Highness the Nizam VII. These were among the most coveted items of jewellery available in the world and much sought after by institutions like Christies and Sotheby, and in the early 1990s were sought to be auctioned and that too at a throwaway price.”

Golconda mines

The Indian government bought the jewels nearly three decades after the death of Mir Osman Ali Khan, Last Nizam of Hyderabad, who died in 1967. The Nizam’s Trustees agreed to sell the famous collection to India in lieu of tax burden.

Describing the blinding brilliance of the collection, Ali Mirza said that jewellers, connoisseurs, tourists and diamantaires of the world should get a chance to view them. Although they have been exhibited at least twice by the government, once in 2001 and once in 2006, Mirza wants a permanent setting for the family jewels.

The national heritage has its origins in the diamond mines of Golconda. The owners of this heritage and this unparalleled legacy have been residents and rulers of Hyderabad, hence it would be fitting if the collection could return home. Seeking an appointment with the Prime Minister, Mirza offered to find a suitable site in the Financial District of Hyderabad to locate the high security museum.

Published on June 15, 2021

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