Monday, February 11, 2013

British Royal Jewels: The Queen's Nizam of Hyderabad Parure

On the occasion of her marriage in 1947, Princess Elizabeth was positively flooded with gifts. According to the official list of wedding gifts released by St James Palace, Princess Elisabeth and Prince Philip received exactly 2583 presents. Not all of them were jewellery, of course; in fact, the most common gifts were stockings and books. Nevertheless, there was no lack of sparkle either.
Nyzam of Hyderabad Parure
The current demi-parure parure - the necklace and the brooches
One of the most beautiful gifts came from the Nizam of Hyderabad. The Nizam was the owner of one of the most celebrated and largest private jewellery collections in the world, and his gift was suitably impressive – a demi-parure of a tiara and necklace.


The necklace was purchased from Cartier. Actually, in a way it was acquired by Elizabeth herself: the Nizam wasn't in London at the time and left Cartier instructions that the Princess will personally choose her present.

Nizam of Hyderabad was created by Cartier in 1930s. It consists of a long chain of 38 diamonds (reduced from the original 46) with a diamond-encrusted snap. The centre of the necklace is pave-set with detachable double-drop pendant 13 emerald-cut diamonds and a pear-shaped drop.

Nyzam of Hyderabad Parure
Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace
The original necklace consisted of eight double-drop and three triple-drop pendants. However, nine of the pendants (all eight double-drop and the larger of the triple-drop pendants) were later removed and sold separately. The necklace itself found its fist owner in 1936 but Cartier repurchased it a year later. 

The Queen wearing Nyzam of Hyderabad Parure
The Countess of Greville (left) and  Queen Elizabeth (middle and right) wearing the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace
The Queen has worn Nizam of Hyderabad necklace through her life, although more often in her youth. This is also one of her favourite necklaces to don when she is posing for portraits. There is also a photograph of Elfrida Greville, Countess of Warwick wearing the necklace in 1930s. A side note: Elfrida the wife of Leopold Greville, 6th Earl of Warwick of the famous Greville family and the son of Daisy Greville – one of Edward VII’s most notable mistresses.


The Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara wasn't a set with the necklace although it was in the same general style. It was also personally chosen by the Queen from the Cartier stock, as per the Nizam’s instructions. 

Nyzam of Hyderabad Tiara
Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara which was later dismantled to create the Burmese Ruby Tiara
The tiara consisted of one large and two smaller roses surrounded by leaves, all diamond-encrusted. The roses were detachable and could be worn as brooches. The Queen wore this tiara from time to time until 1973, the last time it was seen. 

The Queen wearing the Nyzam of Hyderabad Tiara
The Queen wearing the Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara
After years of speculation, it was finally confirmed in Hugh Roberts’s “The Queen’s Diamonds” that the tiara was broken up to create the Burmese Ruby Tiara

I don’t hate the Burmese Ruby Tiara as some people do but honestly, dismantling this beautiful piece for that? How could you, Your Majesty? I am pretty sure there were enough loose diamonds in the royal collection to create a brand new tiara to incorporate all the Burmese rubies. 

The Brooches 

The three brooches that now remain from the Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara were originally detachable parts of the tiara. 

Nyzam of Hyderabad Brooches
The Nizam of Hyderabad Brooches which were originally part of the tiara
The larger brooch has a diameter of 4.2 cm, while the smaller ones are 3.3 each. All three are in the form of roses pave-set with diamonds. 

The Queen wearing the Nyzam of Hyderabad Brooches
The Queen wearing the two smaller brooches together (left) and the larger brooch on its own (middle and right)
These aren't  and have never been among the Queen’s favourite brooches but she has worn them steadily through her reign. She usually wears the larger brooch on its own, or the two smaller brooches together. 

Photo and information sources: National Portrait Gallery, Royal Collection, “The Queen’s Diamonds” by Hugh Roberts, Cartier Archives


  1. Loved learning about these pieces. Can't believe she dismantled that tiara to make the burmese one.

    1. You and me both! The Burmese Tiara isn't too bad (what with symbolism and everything) but that's no excuse what dismantling a tiara, especially one as beautiful as this one.

  2. I personally just do not understand the love for the Nizam tiara. For me, it's totally unremarkable, really rather mediocre and lacking in any wow-factor whatsoever. It's not ugly, but nor is particularly special in my view.

    I like the Burmese ruby tiara with its lovely design of red roses (one of the most important symbols in Britain), with a real almost 3D effect. I certainly don't have any problem with the Queen's decision to dismantle the thoroughly average Nizam for it.

    1. I love the symbolism behind the Burmese Tiara (the Tudor Rose aspect, and the significance of the 96 rubies), but there is something about the design that doesn't go well with me. Perhaps if the Tiara is worn by someone with darker heir, I'll like it better.

      One of the reasons personally I love the Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara is exactly because it is not a wow piece. There are more than enough substantial pieces in the British jewellery collection but very few delicate ones. I always thought the Nizam Tiara was perfect for a young Princess.