Jewels of India governors on public display

For the time in decades, the Jewels of India’s feudal governors-one of the most fabulous jewelry collections in the world-will be on display for the general public, the Associated Press AP reported.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurated the dazzling display on Wednesday in New Delhi, India, amid unprecedented security, the AP reported. The jewels, valued at $1.27 billion, were bought by the federal government from the heirs the Nizam, as the feudal princes of Hyderabad were known, after a long legal battle.

Nizam-which translates roughly to “governor”-was the title of the rulers of the western Indian princely state of Hyderabad from 1712 until 1948, a year after India gained freedom from British colonial rule and hundreds of feudal princely states were disbanded.

The jewels, usually kept in the vaults of the Reserve Bank of India in Bombay, were flown in under heavy guard for the exhibit at New Delhi’s National Museum.

They include more than 170 pieces of ornate jewelry, including the 185-ct. Jacob diamond, described as one of the biggest in the world, emeralds, pearl necklaces, rings, armbands, and gem-encrusted turbans and belts.

The jewels have drawn prospective buyers from across the world, but the Nizam’s Trust, which was in charge of the last Nizam’s property since his death in 1967, wanted the treasure to remain in India. After years of negotiations, the government bought it for $47 million.