| Peek Inside the Largest Jewelry "Box" in the World: Iranian Crown Jewels
Posted by JBA on 9/3/2010
Looking for more precious gems to add to your jewelry box? Be dazzled by what's stored inside the largest jewelry "box" in the world - housing the extensive Iranian Crown Jewels. This collection is arguably the most valuable and largest assortment of precious stones and jeweled pieces in the world today.
The History of the Jewels
Much like the collection itself, the history of the Iranian Crown Jewels has a rich, colorful story. The majority of items of this stunning jewelry box collection were obtained during the Safavid Dynasty, which ruled in Iran between 1502 and 1736. The jewels accumulated during this time came from a variety of sources, including:
- Previous rulers, who left a legacy in the country through their precious gems
Gifts sent by both local rules and foreign kings
Items purchased by those in power
Gems found during mining in Khorasan and Turkestan
Gems found in the Persian Gulf (mothers-of-pearl)
Plunder taken during wartime
The jewelry box collection was an extensive one during this time; however, Afghans came into the city in 1719 and took most of the jewels as plunder after defeating the Iranian regime. At that time, much of the Iranian collection was transferred to the Teimurid Court in India.
When Nader Shah took over Iranian power, he successfully drove the Afghans out of Iran by 1729. Just a few short years later, the Shah launched a successful campaign to regain most of the Iranian Crown Jewels, reassembling the collection in its home country. In addition to the lost jewels, the Shah brought back many other precious gems that continue to remain in the Iranian Treasury to this day.
When the Shah of Iran crowned himself in 1967, some of the precious stones in the collection were also used to craft special pieces for the Coronation. The famous, Paris-based jewelry firm of Van Cleef and Arpels was commissioned to put some of these gems to good use, creating designs for the Shah and Empress as well as the daughter and sister of the Shah.
Because the jewels were not allowed to leave Iran, the jewelry firm was required to complete their work in Tehran. After six months and 20 trips, the crowns were complete, and copies of the masterpieces are also on display at the headquarters of Van Cleef and Arpels in Paris. In addition to the crowns, this firm also designed earrings and necklaces for the Empress jewelry box.
After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, this royal collection and a number of other pieces officially became the Treasury of National Iranian Jewels. The collection is currently housed at the Central Bank treasury at the National Bank in Tehran. Visitors can view the jewels that are displayed there.
While the Iranian Crown Jewels are truly magnificent in their entirety, there are a few pieces from the national jewelry box that stand out from the rest. One is a jeweled globe, which is covered with more than 51,000 gemstones. Land masses are primarily comprised of rubies and spinels, while the oceans boast hundreds of emeralds. The construction of this globe was thought to be ordered by Nasseridin Shah, who ruled the country from 1848 to 1896. The original plan was to create the globe to help keep track of many of the loose gemstones in the collection.
The Pahlavi Crown, which was the piece used to crown the Shah of Iran in 1967, is another popular piece in the Iranian collection. The crown was originally constructed in 1925 for Reza Shah the Great, the father of the Shah of Iran. The rich red velvet is offset by gold, silver and 3,380 diamonds. The largest stone is the 60-carat yellow diamond, located in the center of the crown's sunburst. Also adorning this crown are 369 natural pearls, five emeralds and a number of sapphires.
The Naderi Throne was one of the most breathtaking of all the jeweled thrones in the Iranian collection. This throne boasts no less than 26, 733 jewels, including numerous large spinels and emeralds across the backrest. Despite its name, this throne was not related to Nader Shah, although this Iranian ruler did purchase a number of ornate thrones, including the well-known Peacock Throne, during the time of his reign. The throne was used by both Reza Shah the Great in 1928 and by Mohamed Reza in 1967. The throne can actually be broken down into 12 separate sections, so it could be transported with the King in appropriate jewelry boxes when he moved to his summer residences.
The Iranian Crown Jewels put most other jewelry collections to shame, with a bounty of some of the most magnificent jeweled pieces in the world. Despite its somewhat rocky history, this collection has mostly remained intact for many centuries and continues to be enjoyed by Iranians and visitors alike today. The now permanent display fixture is currently available for viewing at the Central Bank of Iran, which is arguably the largest jewelry box in the world!