Nizam jewels not safe with RBI, feel writers

They can get damaged if not kept in climatised enclosure.

HYDERABAD: International writers who penned books on the Nizams and their jewellery expressed concern over the condition of the ‘Nizam Jewels’, kept in the vaults of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

They fear that the unique jewellery, which includes emeralds and pearls, needs proper conservation as otherwise they would get damaged.

The collection comprises 173 jewels, excluding the famed Jacob Diamond and the 22 emeralds. Eminent traders and merchants describe the jewellery as unique.

In a communication with Deccan Chronicle, John Zubrycki, Australian writer who penned the book The Last Nizam and The mysterious Mr Jacob, Diamond Merchant, Magician and Spy has specifically expressed concern about this.

He said, “I am deeply concerned that no independent expert has been allowed access to the collection in the Reserve Bank of India to check on the condition of the jewellery. Pearls in particular, are likely to deteriorate quickly if not kept in specially climatised enclosure.

“Beyond that, this is easily the most remarkable collection of jewellery in India, and one of the most important and valuable collections in the world.”

According to Mr Zubrycki, the jewellery should be on public display so that all can appreciate it.

“The people of India in particular would take great pride in having these pieces in a museum as they reflect the craftsmanship and artistic legacy of what was once India’s greatest princely state,” he told Deccan Chronicle.

Ms Usha Balakrishnan, a researcher who penned the book, Jewels of Nizam said, “It is my personal belief that the Nizam Jewels is the most outstanding collection of Indian royal jewels in the world-set with fabulous Indian diamonds, Colombian emeralds and Basra pearls; they were all made by Indian craftsmen and are outstanding examples of Indian aesthetics and design sensibilities.

Having been purchased for the people of India as items of great heritage value and cultural importance, they should be on permanent exhibition for all Indians and the world to see.”

Historian Dr Mohammed Safiullah said, “Nizam VII, Mir Osman Ali Khan after merging his State with the Indian Union in 1948, created HEH, the Nizam’s Jewellery Trust.

“The trust property included 173 pieces of jewellery, 22 pieces of unset emeralds and the famous 184.5-carat Jacob diamond. Pearls lose their colour if not kept under proper conditions. There are thousands of Basera pearls in the jewellery and there is likelihood of damage.”

After the death of the Nizam in 1967, the trustees were planning to sell the jewellery, but the Government of India intervened and bought it after a long legal battle for '206.49 cr in 1995. The trustees were paid '165.5 crore.

Proposal to bring back jewellery submitted

Faiz Khan, a trustee of the various trusts of Prince Mukaram Jah, said that they had submitted a proposal to the government through the Nizam family to bring the Nizam’s jewellery back to Hyderabad and put them on display.

“Time and again we have been making this representation. Last year, the demand was raised in the Assembly and the Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had given an affirmative reply. But again, no one has got in touch with us so far,” he pointed out.

The Nizam family, according to Mr Khan, feels the Nazira Bagh Palace, at King Kothi is the ideal place to display the jewellery.

“There is a strong room in the cellar where the jewellery can be stored in the vaults. At the same time, the place is spacious enough for public display,” he said.

Mr Khan also expressed concern over the upkeep of the jewellery in the vaults of the Reserve Bank of India. “We hope for the best and expect the largest and one of the costliest collections of jewellery to be in good condition,” he added.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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