The Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace: A Cartier Masterpiece, A Regal Gift
H. M. Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace // William Hustler and Georgina Hustler
There are jewels that capture the eye with their brilliance, and then there are those that capture the heart with their history. The Nizam of Hyderabad necklace, a product of Cartier's master craftsmanship, falls into the latter category. This magnificent diamond necklace was a wedding gift from the last Nizam of Hyderabad, H.E.H Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII, to H.R.H Princess Elizabeth (later H. M. Queen Elizabeth II) in 1947. A symbol of admiration, respect, and splendor, this necklace has witnessed time's passage, and to this day, remains an integral part of royal adornment.
A Brief Background:
H.E.H Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jar VII // Wikimedia Commons
The title 'Nizam of Hyderabad' was a princely honor in British India, with Asaf Jah VII, being its last bearer during India's transition from British rule to independence. Despite the political shifts, the Nizam maintained amicable relations with the British monarchy. This was epitomized by the lavish gift he presented Princess Elizabeth on her wedding day.
Known as one of the wealthiest rulers of his time, the Nizam's gift was not just an ordinary piece of jewelry. It was a phenomenal creation by Cartier, a world-renowned luxury jewelry house.
The Cartier Connection:
Monsieur Louis-François Cartier, who established Cartier in 1847, fostered an undeniable legacy of unmatched craftsmanship and elegant design. The necklace commissioned by the Nizam was a quintessential representation of this legacy, showcasing the union of skill and luxury that is synonymous with the Cartier name.
Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace // Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images
The masterpiece necklace showcases an intricate design with a dense cluster of round, brilliant-cut diamonds at its center, accompanied by elegant curving scrolls. Further, it features a smaller scroll section on both sides, inclusive of 13 expertly-cut emerald diamonds. At the heart of the necklace hangs a 13-carat-pear-shaped diamond pendant encircled by brilliant cuts, all set in platinum. Notably, the double pendant drop at the center can be detached for versatile wear. The band of the necklace, hugging the neck, is constructed of 38 dazzling brilliant diamonds, closed with an oval diamond clasp. The necklace's design is asymmetrical, a popular style in the mid-20th century, and its simplicity exudes sophistication and magnificence.
The original creation of the necklace dates back to 1935 when it featured five progressively sized pendant drops hanging from the diamond sections. It changed hands and was returned to Cartier's possession in 1937. At this point, the design underwent a transformation to arrive at the unique configuration when gifted to Princess Elizabeth.
Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace // Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
The necklace was among the numerous wedding gifts received by Princess Elizabeth, but its sheer grandeur set it apart. Its presentation symbolized the burgeoning relationship between a newly independent India and the British monarchy, marking a new chapter of mutual respect and shared history.
While it's challenging to assess the exact value of such a historically significant piece, expert appraisals have estimated its worth at $130 million dollars. Its value stems not only from the quality of its diamonds but also from its historical significance and its royal provenance.
The Necklace Today:
H.R.H Catherine, Princess of Wales wearing the Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace // ALASTAIR GRANT/AFP/Getty Images
The necklace remains an esteemed part of the British royal jewelry collection. However, Queen Elizabeth II, known for her understated style, had the necklace remodeled to a simpler design in the 1950s. Today, the redesigned necklace is frequently worn by H.R.H Princess Catherine, Princess of Wales.
The Princess of Wales has been spotted donning this historic piece at several high-profile events, including a gala at the National Portrait Gallery in 2014. It perfectly complements her elegance and poise, adding a touch of historic glamour to her modern style.
The Nizam of Hyderabad necklace is more than just a luxurious ornament; it's a potent symbol of history and diplomatic relations. From its origins in Cartier's workshop to the Nizam's grand gesture, its remodel by Queen Elizabeth II, and now, its appearances on the Princess of Wales, the necklace continues to weave a fascinating tale of heritage, luxury, and the enduring allure of royal jewelry. Its estimated value of $130 million dollars reflects not just its material worth, but the priceless historical and cultural narratives it carries. As it graces royal necks in the 21st century, it continues to be an emblem of timeless elegance and regal history.