Nizams’ jewellery need conservation: John Zubrzycki

Photo: Jacob Diamond, ranked seventh in the world. It weighs 184.5 carats

By: Mir Ayoob Ali Khan,

Australian writer John Zubrzycki, who penned the biography of the ‘original owner’ of the Jacob Diamond expressed concern at the fabulous jewellery of the Nizams being locked up in the vaults of the Reserve Bank of India and said the unique pearls in that collection could get damaged if they are not treated for conservation.

“I am not an expert on pearls. But I have been told by some jewellery experts that the pearls in the collection of the Nizams’ jewels require regular upkeep. If they are not properly maintained they would lose their shine and texture,” he told the TOI on Wednesday.

The Nizams’ jewellery is now the property of the government of India as it bought them at the intervention of the Supreme Court in 1995. The collection comprises 173 jewels, excluding the famed Jacob Diamond and the 22 emeralds. Many of these jewels have pearls which are described by experts and traders as unique and invaluable.

Since its purchase, the jewellery had been put on display twice in Delhi and as many times in Hyderabad. It was first brought to Hyderabad in 2001 and later in 2006. The demand for the extension of the exhibition was so huge during its second round that it went on for about a year at Salar Jung Museum, which had been provided with special security.

According to official sources, the state government has to make a strong case for housing the collection in Hyderabad. The central government wanted to hand over the jewellery for permanent display in Hyderabad provided the state government came up with a viable building plan with necessary security system. After making some tentative moves, the state government has put the whole thing on the backburner.

Making a pitch for its permanent display in Hyderabad, Zubrzycki said, “Any other country in the world would have felt proud to showcase its national heritage. It puzzles me why India is shying away from putting the Nizams’ jewellery on show permanently. I feel that Hyderabad should be a natural choice for the exhibition of these jewels as they all came from this part of the country,” he said.

He believes that the rule of the seventh Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan needs to be objectively evaluated to make the people know how the history has taken its course. “The public has a right to know the role of British colonialists, Indian government and the positions the Nizam had taken in relation to his state. I think the Nizam, who started off as able ruler, was not able to take decisions freely. There were many forces that were influencing him,” the Australian writer said.

Zubrzycki said that the diamond merchant Jacob, who sold the Imperial Diamond (which later came to be known as Jacob Diamond), was also a magician and spy. A Christian from Diyarbakir, Turkey, he sold the diamond to the sixth Nizam Mahboob Ali Khan who took him to court in Kolkata for criminally cheating him. Jacob died a poor man in Mumbai. [Source: Times of India]

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