The diamond paperweight of the Nizam of Hyderabad
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In 1884 a rough diamond of over 400 carats was found in the Kimberley mines in South Africa and smuggled to London to avoid duty. A syndicate of dealers at Hutton Gardens bought it and sent it to Amsterdam to be cut and polished. The finished gem was a spectacular rectangular cushion cut with 58 facets. It weighed 184.75 carats and was said to be the fifth largest diamond in the world.
“It is generally supposed that in the month of June or July 1884, the stone had been found by one of the surveillance officers of the Central Mining Company in the Kimberly mines. It being his duty to search others, he had the privilege of not being searched himself, and so the stone was passed through the searching-house, and he was afterwards supposed to have found means of communicating with four illicit diamond-buyers.”
It was called the Victoria diamond, or the Imperial or Great White diamond until Alexander Jacob, a diamond and antique dealer in Simla, had a glass replica made and talked Mahboob Ali Khan, the Nizam, into buying it as a paperweight for his official papers. Since then it has been called the Jacob Diamond.
The Nizam believed the stone would bring him luck
Mir Mahboob Ali Khan was the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad and he loved everything Western — dress, cars, manners, habits and especially diamonds. He already owned a necklace which had belonged to Marie Antoinette.
The diamond caused considerable sensation in Hatton Garden, the great diamond market
When Jacob brought the Nizam the diamond, it was considerably smaller than the replica, but Jacob refused to give back the 50 per cent deposit. The Nizam filed a case against Jacob, but since he did not want to appear in Court he eventually wrapped the stone in a penwiper and hid it in a shoe, where his son and successor, Mir Osman Ali Khan, found it in 1911— and he used it as a paperweight.
Alexander Jacob has survived as the model for Rudyard Kipling’s Lurgan in Kim. The diamond now belongs to the Indian Government.
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Image Source: The New Indian Express