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Wednesday, 29 August, 2001, 00:55 GMT 01:55 UK
Indian jewels set to dazzle
a turban ornament which is part of the Nizams jewellery
Turban ornaments are among the rare 173-piece set
By Jill McGivering in Delhi

A spectacular collection of jewels, privately owned for more than two centuries by the Nizams of Hyderabad, goes on public display from Wednesday for the first time in its history.

Nizams' gems
Jacob Diamond - valued at $84.89m
One necklace has 370 pearls
A diamond belt weighs 640 carats
A ring is made of the rare Alexandrite
The jewels, with a market value estimated at $2bn, will be displayed for six weeks at Delhi's National Museum - where security has rarely been tighter.

They give an insight into the vast wealth of the Nizams, once the rulers of the princely state of Hyderabad, which is now part of India.

One of the highlights of the collection is the Jacob Diamond - ranked seventh in the world. it is almost twice the size of the famous Kohinoor diamond in London.

Jacob Diamond that is part of the Nizam collection
The Jacob Diamond is nearly twice the size of the Kohinoor
Now the Jacob Diamond is displayed alone as the centre of the collection - but it was not always appreciated.

The last Nizam apparently found it by chance hidden in the toe of his late father's slipper, and from then on used it as a paperweight.

The Indian Government has fought a long legal battle to stop the collection being sold overseas.

Dr Raghuraj Sing Chauhan is the assistant director of the National Museum and the exhibition's co-ordinator.

The pieces offer a glimpse into the glorious history and the splendour of Indian royalty

Raghuraj Singh Chauhan, exhibition coordinator

"Naturally we are excited and it has created a sensation because only royals and their few guests or some family members were privileged to enjoy this sort of collection," he said.

He added that the jewels were "nature's gift" and people had a right to see them.

Following the exhibition in Delhi, the collection will be transferred to Hyderabad - where the Nizams enjoyed them in private for so long.

See also:

26 Apr 00 | South Asia
Indian MPs demand Kohinoor's return
07 Nov 00 | South Asia
Taleban demand gem from UK crown jewels
16 Nov 00 | Europe
Aga Khan jewels net $4.5 million
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