The Treasury of National Jewels is closed until future notice
Located within the Central Bank, the Treasury of National Jewels, known as Jewels Museum is a hidden gem that demands your attention.
This breathtaking collection, housed in the heart of Tehran, is not just a showcase of precious stones and metals; it’s a journey through the rich history and regal grandeur of Iran. The Treasury, also known as the Jewel Museum, offers a unique glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of Persian monarchs and their unparalleled love for luxurious artifacts.
This cavernous vault is home to an astonishing array of treasures, once the pride of the Safavid, Qajar, and Pahlavi monarchs. These rulers, known for their lavish tastes, adorned themselves and their royal accessories with an incredible assortment of priceless gems and precious metals. This collection is so stunning that it’s guaranteed to leave visitors in awe.
The museum’s star attractions, the Globe of Jewels and the Peacock Throne, are embodiments of luxury and historical significance. These pieces not only represent the opulence of Iran’s royal past but also offer a glimpse into the artistry and craftsmanship of the era. The Globe of Jewels, in particular, is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of Persian artisans.
Understanding the Treasury’s History
The Treasury of National Jewels is more than just a museum. It’s a historic vault that holds the royal jewels of the Safavid, Qajar, and Pahlavi dynasties. These jewels are not mere ornaments; they represent the political and economic power of Iran through centuries.
Most of the collection dates back to Safavid times, when the shahs scoured Europe, India and the lands of the Ottoman Empire for booty with which to decorate their capital, Isfahan. But as the Safavid empire crumbled, the jewels became a high profile spoil of war. When Mahmud Afghan invaded Iran in 1722, he plundered the treasury and sent its contents to India. On ascending the throne in 1736, Nader Shah Afshar despatched courtiers to ask for the return of the jewels.
When their powers of persuasion proved unequal to the task, he sent an army to prove that he was serious.
To get the soldiers off his back, Mohammed Shah of India was forced to hand over the Darya-ye Nur and Kuh-e Nur diamonds, a Peacock Throne (though not the one you’ll see here) and assorted other treasures.
After Nader Shah’s murder in 1747, Ahmed Beg plundered the treasury and dispersed the jewels. The Kuh-e Nur, the world’s largest cut diamond, found its way into the sticky fingers of the colonial British and has been locked up in the Tower of London since.
The Qajar and Pahlavi rulers enthusiastically added to the jewels collection, which grew to be so valuable that in the 1930s it was transferred to the National Bank of Iran (now the Central Bank of Iran) as a reserve for the national currency.
What to Expect
Upon entering the museum, you’ll be greeted by an array of dazzling artifacts. From crowns and tiaras to ornate swords and shields, every item is imbued with history. The Peacock Throne and the Globe of Jewels are among the most famous pieces. The former is an emblem of Persian monarchy, while the latter is a stunning geographical representation crafted from over 51,000 precious stones.
Planning Your Visit
The Treasury is open to the public but has specific visiting hours and certain entry requirements, given its location within a bank. It’s recommended to check the latest information on visiting hours and entry fees. Photography is not allowed inside the museum, so be prepared to store your cameras and phones before entering.
Notable Highlights of Jewels
From the renowned Darya-ye Noor Diamond to the majestic Naderi Throne, every item within Iran’s Treasury of National Jewels collection tells a story of opulence and regal grandeur.
In this article, we spotlight some of the most awe-inspiring pieces that you absolutely must see during your visit to this extraordinary treasury.
The Darya-ye Noor Diamond (The Sea of Light)
The Darya-ye Noor Diamond (Sea of Light), a mesmerizing and historic gemstone, holds a special place in the annals of Persian history. This captivating diamond, weighing an astonishing 182 carats, graces the world with its dazzling presence.
Originally mined from the Golconda mines of India, this diamond made its way to the Persian Empire during the 18th century. It became part of the Iranian Crown Jewels, adorning the nation’s rulers and symbolizing the wealth and power of the Persian dynasty. Today, the Darya-ye Noor Diamond continues to shine brilliantly in Tehran’s National Jewels Museum.
Its unique pinkish hue, a result of nitrogen impurities within the crystal lattice, sets it apart from other diamonds. The Darya-ye Noor has long been a symbol of Persian heritage and is revered for its cultural significance, having survived centuries of tumultuous events.
The Samarian Spinel
The Samarian Spinel stands as the world’s largest spinel gemstone, weighing an impressive 500 carats. This gem is a highlight of the Iranian Crown Jewels, showcasing its historical and cultural significance. Its acquisition dates back to the 18th century, captured by Persian King Nadir Shah during his conquest of India. Along with it, a smaller 270-carat spinel, inscribed with Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s name, was also obtained, adding to its rich history.
This spinel is unique, featuring a hole that carries an intriguing legend. According to Iranian Shah Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar’s court physician, the stone was originally part of the biblical golden calf, crafted by the Israelites. To enhance its appearance, a diamond was later added to conceal this hole. This fascinating blend of historical lore and opulent beauty elevates The Samarian Spinel to a symbol of enduring grandeur in the Iranian treasury.
Nader Shah’s Sword
Nader Shah’s Sword, a historic artifact from Persian history, was the weapon of choice for Nader Shah, Iran’s ruler from 1736 to 1747. Currently housed in Tehran, Iran, this sword is more than just a weapon; it’s a symbol of power and prestige. Later during the reign of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar, around fifty years after Nader Shah’s rule, the sword underwent significant embellishments. Its scabbard is notably covered in diamonds, a testament to its regal status. Historian Michael Axworthy has remarked on Nader Shah’s fondness for using the imagery of the sword to portray his own identity and power.
Interestingly, the sword does not appear in any portraits of Fath-Ali Shah. However, its historical importance is highlighted in the Marble Room of the Golestan Palace. Here, a mural vividly depicts Mohammad Shah Qajar, successor to Fath-Ali Shah, mounted on a horse and wielding this celebrated sword. The reverse side of the sword and its scabbard are adorned with a picture of the Shah on the hilt, accompanied by a few lines of verse, and images of two of his sons, further enriching its historical and artistic value.
The Sun Throne (Takht-e Khurshīd), also known as the Peacock Throne (Takht-e Tāvūs), is Iran’s imperial throne, distinguished by a radiant sun disk on its headboard. Resembling the Marble Throne in design, it’s a platform-style throne, unlike the chair-like Naderi Throne. Since 1980, it has been displayed at Iran’s Central Bank, symbolizing Iran’s regal heritage.
This throne was crafted for Fath-Ali Shah Qajar in the early nineteenth century and has been integral to coronation ceremonies since. Its alternate name, “Peacock Throne,” originated from Fath-Ali Shah’s marriage to Tavous Khanum Taj ol-Doleh, “Lady Peacock.” The throne’s design, featuring the Lion and Sun, ancient Persian symbols of kingship, elevates the seated Shah to a position symbolizing both the lion and the sun. Its relocation in 1980 from the Golestan Palace to the Central Bank marked a transition from a symbol of royal authority to a preserved historic artifact.
The Noor-ul-Ain, a remarkable pink diamond, is among the largest in the world and serves as the centerpiece of a tiara bearing the same name. Originating from India’s famed Golconda mines, this diamond has a rich history, tracing back to its original owners, the Kakatiya dynasty. Now a part of the Iranian National Jewels, the Noor-ul-Ain boasts an approximate weight of 60 carats and is cut in an oval brilliant shape, emanating a pale pink hue.
The diamond’s journey to Iran is steeped in history. Initially possessed by Nizam Abul Hasan Qutb Shah of Hyderabad, it was later presented to Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb as a peace offering. The Noor-ul-Ain eventually became part of the Iranian Imperial collection after Persian King Nader Shah Afshar looted Delhi in the 18th century. Intriguingly, it is believed to have been part of a larger gem, the Great Table diamond, which was cut into two, yielding both the Noor-ul-Ain and the Daria-i-Noor diamond, both now key elements of the Iranian Crown Jewels.
The tiara featuring the Noor-ul-Ain was crafted for the wedding of Iranian Empress Farah Pahlavi to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1958. Designed by Harry Winston, this modern tiara showcases 324 diamonds in shades of pink, yellow, and white, set in platinum and weighing approximately 2 kg.
The Kiani Crown, an emblem of Iranian royalty, was the traditional coronation crown for the Qajar shahs, ruling from 1789 to 1925. Its inception under Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar, the first Qajar shah, was a strategic move to link his reign to the esteemed Sasanian shahs and the mythological Kiyani shahs. This crown wasn’t just a symbol of authority; it was a bridge connecting contemporary rulers to their illustrious predecessors. The Kiani Crown, a fusion of historical reverence and royal symbolism, is currently housed in the National Treasury of Iran in Tehran.
Crafted from red velvet, the crown is a masterpiece adorned with thousands of gems. It boasts 1800 small pearls, each about 7 millimeters in diameter, alongside approximately 300 emeralds and 1,800 rubies. Standing 32 cm high and 19.5 cm wide, the crown’s design is a testament to the lavishness and intricate artistry of the time. Even though Reza Shah, founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, introduced his own Pahlavi Crown, the Kiani Crown played a significant role in his 1926 coronation, symbolizing a seamless transition of power. The term ‘Kiani’ itself, deriving from Middle and New Persian ‘kay(an)’, resonates with royal and poetic connotations, tracing back to the Avestan ‘kavi’, meaning ‘king’ or ‘poet-priest’.
The Pahlavi Crown, a symbol of the Pahlavi dynasty’s reign from 1925 to 1979, is a key piece among the Iranian National Jewels. Its creation marked the beginning of a new era in Persian monarchy. Reza Shah, the first ruler of the Pahlavi dynasty, commissioned this crown to signify the transition from the Qajar dynasty.
The crown’s design was inspired by the Sassanid Empire’s historical references and paintings, a dynasty that ruled Persia from 224 to 651 AD. Crafted under the supervision of Haj Serajeddin Javaheri, a group of Iranian jewelers brought this historical vision to life.
The Pahlavi Crown, first used at Reza Shah’s coronation on April 25, 1926, and last worn by his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1967, now resides in the Treasury of National Jewels in Tehran.
The crown’s frame, a magnificent blend of gold, silver, and red velvet, stands 29.8 cm high and weighs nearly 2,080 grams. It is adorned with 3,380 diamonds, totaling 1,144 carats, including a striking 60-carat yellow brilliant diamond at its center.
Alongside these diamonds, the crown features 369 nearly identical natural white pearls, arranged in three rows, adding to its grandeur. Additionally, it contains five large emeralds, totaling 200 carats, with the largest, a 100-carat gem, prominently placed at the crown’s apex. These jewels were selected from the vast collection of loose stones in the Iranian Imperial Treasury, maintaining the tradition of using historic gems for royal insignia.
The Empress’s Crown, part of the coronation regalia for Farah Pahlavi, the third Shahbanu (Empress) of Iran, is a significant artifact within the Iranian National Jewels. Currently on display at the Treasury of National Jewels in Tehran, this crown holds historical importance in Iranian tradition.
It marks a monumental moment as Farah Pahlavi was crowned in 1967, becoming the first shahbanu since Boran and Azarmidokht of the Sassanian era around 630 AD. This event symbolized a revival of an ancient title that had been dormant since the Muslim conquest of Persia in the 7th century.
The crown’s creation was a part of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s initiatives under the White Revolution, symbolizing the emancipation of Iranian women. For this significant occasion, the French jewelers Van Cleef & Arpels were commissioned to design the crown, a task carried out in Tehran due to the law preventing imperial treasury items from leaving Iran.
The crown’s composition is a marvel of craftsmanship, made from white gold and lined with green velvet. It is adorned with 36 emeralds, 105 pearls, 34 rubies, two spinels, and 1,469 diamonds, with the largest emerald weighing approximately 92 carats. Despite its stunning beauty, as noted by Empress Farah in her memoir, the crown was quite heavy, weighing nearly two kilograms, adding a tangible weight to the symbolic significance of her role.
The Golden Belt, also known as the Shah’s Coronation Belt, is a distinguished piece of Iranian regalia. Crafted around 1850, this belt stands out with its exceptional 176-carat emerald centerpiece. Measuring 119 cm, it is further adorned with 60 brilliant diamonds and 145 diamonds of various cuts. This exquisite belt, combining gold and silver, is currently preserved in the National Treasury of Iran in Tehran, where it represents a significant part of Iran’s rich historical heritage.
Commissioned by Naser al-Din Shah Qajar, the Golden Belt was designed to be more than just an accessory; it was a symbol of royal authority and luxury.
The Emerald-studded Globe
The Emerald-studded Globe is a remarkable geographical masterpiece, intricately crafted with over 51,000 precious stones. This extraordinary creation is not only a feat of cartography but also a dazzling display of artistry and luxury. The globe features a plethora of emeralds, among other gems, meticulously arranged to represent the continents and oceans of the world.
Each stone on the globe has been carefully selected and placed, creating a vivid and accurate representation of the Earth’s geography. This globe stands as a symbol of human creativity and the ability to combine scientific knowledge with aesthetic beauty. The sheer number of gems and the precision of their arrangement make The Emerald-studded Globe a unique and invaluable artifact, admired for both its educational value and its opulent beauty.
The Naderi Throne
The Naderi Throne represents a significant symbol of the power and glory of Persian monarchs. It is an embodiment of royal grandeur and artistic craftsmanship. Crafted with exquisite detail, the throne is a testament to the luxurious tastes and the rich cultural heritage of Persia. Its design and construction reflect the pinnacle of artistic achievement in the era of its creation.
Adorned with an array of precious stones and intricate designs, The Naderi Throne captures the essence of regal splendor. Its presence in historical contexts has often been associated with the might and prestige of the rulers who sat upon it. This throne is not just a piece of furniture but a powerful symbol of sovereignty and the enduring legacy of Persian royalty.
The Jeweled Decor in the Treasury of National Jewels of Iran is a breathtaking collection that epitomizes opulence and artistic mastery.
Located in Iran, this treasury houses an array of exquisite items, each adorned with a myriad of precious gems. From intricately designed vases to majestic chandeliers, every piece in this collection radiates with luxury and historical significance.
Tips for Visitors
- Dress Code: Respect the local culture by dressing modestly.
- Language Barrier: Consider hiring a guide or learning a few Persian phrases to enhance your experience.
- Currency: Have some local currency (Iranian Rial) handy for entry fees and small purchases.
The Treasury of National Jewels is not just a display of wealth; it’s a window into Iran’s past, reflecting its history, art, and politics. This museum is a testament to the country’s rich heritage and is an essential stop for any traveler seeking to explore the depths of Persian culture.
For a deeper exploration of Iran’s majestic history and to plan your trip, visit SURFIRAN for a range of tours and travel advice. For all-inclusive travel services, including visa assistance and transportation, check out OrientTrips.