- Iranian Crown Jewels
The Imperial Crown Jewels of Iran ("alternatively known as the Imperial Crown Jewels of Persia") includes several elaborate Crowns and decorative
Thrones, 30 tiaras and numerous aigrettes, a dozen jewel laden swords and shields, a vast amount of precious unset gemstones, numerous plates and other dinning services cast in precious metals and encrusted with gems and several other more unique items ("such as a gemstone globe") collected by the Iranian monarchyduring its 2,500 year existence.
The majority of the items now in the collection were acquired during the
SafavidDynasty which ruled Iran from 1502to 1736AD. An Afghan invasion of Iran in 1719saw the then capital at Isfahansacked and the Iranian Crown Jewels taken as plunder by the invaders. By 1729 however, after an internal struggle of nearly a decade, Nader Shah Afshar("one of the most well known Safavid Shahs") successfully drove the Afghans from Iran. In 1738, the Shahlaunched his own campaign against the Afghan homeland. After taking and raiding the cities of Kandaharand Kabul, as well as several principalities in northern India, the victorious Nader Shahreturned to Iranwith what remained of the plundered crown jewels as well as several other precious objects now found in the Iranian Treasury. These included several heavily jewel-encrusted thrones and a copious number of diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphiresand other precious gemstones. Three of the most prominent acquisitions from this conquest were the Koh-i-Noorand Darya-ye Noordiamonds, ("still amongst the largest in the world") as well as the Samarian Spinel.
The crown jewels were last used by the Pahlavi Shahs, the last dynastic family to rule Iran. The splendor of the collection came to the attention of the western world largely due to their use by
Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlaviand his consort Shahbanu("Empress") Farah Pahlaviduring official ceremonies and state visits.
The Iranian Crown Jewels are considered so valuable that they are still used as a reserve to back the Iranian currency ("and have been used this way for several successive governments"). During the reign of
Reza Shah Pahlaviin 1937, ownership of the Imperial treasury was transferred to the state. The jewels were transferred into the vaults of the National Bank of Iran and where they were used as collateral to strengthen the institution’s financial power and furthermore as backing for the national monetary system. [http://www.iranchamber.com/museum/royal_jewels/national_iranian_jewels01.php] This important economic role is perhaps one reason why these items, which are undeniably symbols of Iran's monarchic past, have been retained by the current Islamic Republic.
Due to their great value and economic significance, for many centuries the Iranian Crown Jewels were 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 Pahlavidecreed that the most spectacular of these items should be put on public display at the Central Bank of Iran.
Iranian revolutiontoppled the Pahlavi dynastyin 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 Rafsanjanire-opened the permanent exhibition of the Iranian Crown Jewels to the public in the 1990s, where they remain to this day.
The Imperial Collection
* [http://www.worldisround.com/articles/73022/index.html Amazing Iran]
* [http://www.worldisround.com/articles/254158/index.html Imperial Iran of the Pahlavi Dynasty]
* [http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Base/1406/jewel/imperialjewels.html The Imperial Jewels of Iran (images)]
* [http://www.cbi.ir/Page/AboutTreasuryNationalJewels_en.aspx Treasury of National Jewels of Iran]
* Sara Mashayekh, "The Breathtaking Jewelry Museum of Iran", Rozaneh Magazine, January-February 2006, [http://www.rozanehmagazine.com/JanuaryFebruary06/ANationalJelleries.html] .
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