The Treasury of National Jewels Museum is probably Tehran’s biggest tourist draw card, it houses a collection of the worlds most expensive jewels collected over centuries. The museum highlights a vast civilization including the “silent tears” of the Iranian people. From bittersweet memories of the past to victories and constant battles with corruption. You may read stories and see photographs, but nothing will do it justice unless you gawp at the real thing.
Most of the collection dates back to the Safavid-era, as they scoured the region for jewels and struck private deals between Ottoman and Indian lands. Over time they collected more and more treasures to decorate their capital of Isfahan city. But when the Safavid Empire crumbled, in 1722 Mahmud Afghan invaded and sent everything to India. This is when Nader Shah came along, he took his army to convince then to return the jewels. India was obliged to return the “Darya-i-Noor”, and the “Koh-i-Noor” diamonds (Persian for ‘Sea of Light’ and ‘Mountain of Light” respectively), in addition to the infamous “Peacock Throne” and other assorted treasures. It is estimated that the total worth came to roughly £87.5 million sterling at the time, or approximately £12.5 billion in today’s money. However the pomposity set in once more, when Ahmad Shah Durrani (General of Nader Shah and later Emir of Afghanistan) plundered the collection. Eventually Durrani came at odds with Britain’s East India Trading Company, and the The “Kuh-i-Noor” (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 ever since.
Fortunately the Qajar and Pahlavi rulers started the collection again with what was left. With oil trade and other deals, it eventually grew so large that by 1930’s it was transferred to the National Bank of Iran (now the Central Bank of Iran) to bolster the national currency reserve. The collection includes bucklers, gorgeous tiaras, thrones, coronation cloak, a jeweled globe, and Darya-i-Nur (largest pink diamond in the world).
The Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran now maintains the collection.
Opening hours: 14:00-16.30 (Sat-Tue), & 14:00 to 15:30 during winter (Nov-Mar)
Getting there: Arrive at Sa’di or Ferdowsi Metro and walk from there.
Telephone: +98 21 6446 3785
Prices: admission US$5, no under 12s.