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Treasury of National Jewels

Treasury of National Jewels

The incomparable "Treasury of the National Jewels", which is open to public, is a collection of the most expensive jewels of the world, collected over centuries.

Every piece of this collection is a reflection of the tumultuous history of this great nation, and artistry of the residents of this land. Each piece recalls memories of bitter-sweet victories and defeats, of the pride and arrogance of rulers who were powerful or weak.

This Treasury, on one hand, depicts the culture and civilization of the Iranian people who have had an adventurous past, and on the other hand, repeats the silent tears of oppressed people who worked hard and instead the rulers, could show off their arrogance and power with their gold and jewels.

Our intention in presenting these jewels is to get you more acquainted with the rich culture and civilization of Iran. And to learn from history the fate of those who pursue power and hoard wealth. For this end we present this rich collection, which we have inherited and hope to preserve and pass on richer to our inheritors.

About Treasury of National Jewels

national jewls and jewelery of iran Chest for treasure

enamelled with artful drawings of the Persian Qajar

dynasty and floral patterns

The value of the objects in the Treasury of National Jewels is not limited to their economic value, but is also a reflection of the creativity and taste of Iranian craftsmen and artist over the different eras of history, and represents the artistic and cultural heritage of the vast country on Iran.

These jewels and rarities were decorations for the rulers during the past eras, and often showed the glory and extravagance of their courts, as well as their power and wealth.

History

There is no information about the quality and quantity of the treasuries before the Safavid period. It can be said that the recorded history of the Treasury of jewels began with the Safavid monarchs. In short, the history of the amassment of the present collection is as follows:

Before the Safavid dynasty, certain jewels existed in the government treasuries, but it was with the Safavid dynasty that foreign travelers (Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, Chevalier Chardin, the Shirley brothers. George Mainwaring and others) began to mention these treasuries. The Safavid monarchs, over two centuries (907 to 1148 LH equal to about 1502 to 1735 AD), started to collect rare and beautiful gems. The gem specialists of the Safavid court brought fine stones to Isfahan, the capital of Iran at that time from the markets of India the Ottoman Empire and European countries like France and Italy.

After the rule of Shah Soltan Hossein and the entry of Mahmoud the Afghan to Iran, the treasury was scattered and some of the jewels were taken by Mahmoud the Afghan and transferred to Ashraf the Afghan. After the entry of Shah Tahmasb Π and Nadir to Isfahan, these jewels fell into the hands of Nadir, and thus were preserved inside the country. Later, in order to regain the jewels that had been transported to India, Nadir wrote several letters to the India court, but did not receive any favorable reply. After Nadir’s victory in India in 1158 LH (1745 AD), Mohammad Shah delivered cash amounts, jewels and weapons to Nadir as booty. Part of the treasures, which were obtained in India never, reached Iran, and was lost during transportation. According to the tradition of that time, after returning to Iran, Nadir send part of the booty as gifts to neighboring rulers. He also presented some beautiful and rare objects to the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza, while some were distributed among the soldiers of his army.

After the assassination of Nadir in 1160 LH (1747 AD), Ahmad Beg Afghan Abdali, one of his commanders, looted the treasury of Nadir. One of the famous jewels that left Iran at this time and never returned was the famous "Kooh-e-Nur" (Mountain of Light) diamond. This diamond passed on to the hands of Ahmed Shah Durrani and then to Ranjit Singh of Punjab. After his defeat by the British government, the Kooh-e-Nur diamond fell into the hands of the East India Company, and in 1266 LH (1850 AD) it was given to Queen Victoria as a gift.

After this event, there was no major change in the treasury until the time of the Qajar dynasty. During the Qajar period, the Treasury was collected and recorded. Some of the stones were mounted on the Kiani Crown, the Nadir Throne, the Globe of jewels, and the Peacock Throne (or the Sun Throne).

Two others items that were gradually added to this Treasury, are the turquoises, the genuine precious stone of Iran, extracted from the local turquoise mines, and the other are pearls, hunted from the Persian Gulf.

According to the law approved on 25th Aban 1316 SH (1937 AD) a major portion of the Treasury was transferred to Bank Melli Iran, and formed part of the reserves for note issues, and later became collateral for government liabilities to the Bank.

The present collection was constructed in 1334 SH (1955 AD). In 1339 SH (1960 AD), by the establishment of Central Bank of Iran the Treasury was transferred and deposited with the Central Bank. Now it is also safeguarded by The Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Modern usage

The crown jewels were last used by the Pahlavi dynasty, the last to rule Iran. The splendor of the collection came to the attention of the western world largely through their use by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his Shahbanu (Empress) Farah Pahlavi during official ceremonies and state visits.

The Iranian crown jewels are considered so valuable that they are still used as a reserve to back Iranian currency (and have been used this way by several successive governments). In 1937, during the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi, ownership of the Imperial treasury was transferred to the state. The jewels were placed in the vaults of the National Bank of Iran, where they were used as collateral to strengthen the financial power of the institution and to back the national monetary system. This important economic role is perhaps one reason why these jewels, undeniable symbols of Iran`s monarchic past, have been retained by the current Islamic Republic.

Public display

Because of their great value and economic significance, the Iranian crown jewels were for centuries kept far from public view in the vaults of the Imperial treasury. However, as the first Pahlavi Shah had transferred ownership of the crown jewels to the state, his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, decreed that the most spectacular of the jewels should be put on public display at the Central Bank of Iran.

When the Iranian revolution toppled the Pahlavi dynasty in 1979, it was feared that in the chaos the Iranian crown jewels had been stolen or sold by the revolutionaries. Although in fact some smaller items were stolen and smuggled across Iran`s borders, the bulk of the collection remained intact. This became evident when the revolutionary government under the presidency of Hashemi Rafsanjani re-opened the permanent exhibition of the Iranian crown jewels to the public in the 1990s. They remain on public display.

During the glorious Islamic Revolution of Iran and the imposed war, the devoted and revolutionary employees of The Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran protected this precious and peerless collection.

Now, you will visit a unique collection of precious stones that have been gathered over turbulent eras. It is hoped that by viewing these objects and remembering the Almighty God, you will see the finite place of humans in the vast world, and recognize that the place of crowns and tiaras is in a museum --- which shows a bloody and painful history --- a history that should under no circumstances be repeated again.

How much is the value of this collection?

However, much can be said about this fantastic collection, but one question cannot correctly be answered:

How much is the value of this collection?

No one knows the answer to this question. Because this collection contains gems that are unique in the world. The answer to this question can be as the following: from the artistic viewpoint, historical background and containing incomparable jewels, the Treasury of National Jewels is on a level that even the most expert evaluators of the world have not been able to calculate the price of this collection.

Address

Central Bank of I.R. Iran. The National Jewelry Treasury

Ferdowsi Ave. Tehran, Iran.

Phone: (+98 21) 6446 3785, 6446 3869, 6446 3870

Fax: (+98 21) 64463763

Opening Times

Open during Saturday to Tuesday, 14.00 - 16.30.

Closed on Wednesdays, weekends and Public and Bank Holidays

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