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The set of magnificent jewels created by Van Cleef & Arpels for the Coronation of Teheran. In the centre is the Empress of Iran’s Crown, in front of which stands the necklace the Shahbanou wore on the evening of Coronation Day. To the left is the parure created for Princess Shahnaz and to the right the one created for Princess Shams.

See pictures and read more about the jewels worn by the Princesses of Iran at the Coronation of Teheran

Perhaps the most fantastic existing treasure, the Imperial Jewels of Iran include some of the most amazing pieces of jewellery that have ever been made. From a globe encrusted with 51.000 precious stones, to the World’s largest spinel (weighting 500 carats) and dozens of loose emeralds and diamonds, going through bejewelled crowns, tiaras and necklaces, aigrettes and swords… Some of these outstandingly magnificent items came into use for the first time in decades on the 26th October 1967, when the Shah of Iran crowned himself.

Other items were made, using some of the loose jewels of the treasure, especially for the Coronation of 1967, an unprecedented event of glitter, which required new jewels for the Empress but also for the daughter and sisters of the Shah. The honour of creating these jewels fell on Pierre Arpels of the Paris-based Van Cleef & Arpels, one of the most famous jewellery firms of the world. Van Cleef & Arpels was one of the jewellery firms to which, in 1966, were asked designs for a crown for the Shahbanou of Iran. This firm alone provided 30 drawings, along with the others from the other firms, from which a final one was chosen, after agreement of high dignitaries and the Empress herself.

Because the Imperial Jewels could not leave Iran, the construction of the Empress of Iran’s Crown had to take place in Teheran, although a replica was made for display in the Place Vendôme, the headquarters of Van Cleef & Arpels in Paris. It took Pierre Arpels over 20 trips and 6 months between Paris and Teheran before the completion of his illustrious job. Other jewels created for the Empress of Iran included her earrings and a magnificent diamond, emerald and pearl necklace.

The Treasure of Iran had been accumulated for centuries and many of the jewels from the various dynasties were kept, creating the most incredible ensemble. After the revolution of 1979, the Imperial Family left all the jewels, which belonged to the State, behind and they are kept in the National Bank in Teheran, where they can be visited.

Among the unique jewels worn by the Shah of Iran on his coronation day and the first of those presented to him during the ceremony, was the spectacular Emerald Belt. The picture shows a belt woven of gold, but this was not the belt band used for the 1967 Coronation. On this occasion the emerald buckle was placed on another band, also of woven gold but slightly different. The heart-shaped, cabochon-cut emerald is set in a diamond-studded gold mount and its weight is estimated in around 175 carats. It is possible that Nader Shah brought this emerald from India along with many other treasures.

The magnificent sword presented to the Shah and which he hung on the Emerald Belt is either known as the Royal Sword or the Shahi Sword and it was a present Nasseridin Shah from Amin-o'Sultan, his prime minister. The whole handle, hilt and scabbard of the sword is incrusted with around 3000 stones, including large emeralds, rubies, diamonds and spinels. The sword measures 103 cm.

Above, the unique Pahlavi Crown, with which the Shah of Iran crowned himself on the 26th October 1967, was made for his father Reza Shah the Great, in 1925, for his coronation the following year. It was designed and built by a group of Iranian jewellers using loose stones from the treasure. The crown is made of red velvet, gold and silver and it has 3380 diamonds (totalling 1144 carats), the largest (60 carats) being the central yellow diamond, in the middle of the diamond sunburst. In three different rows there are a total of 369 natural pearls and around the crown there are 5 emeralds (the largest around 100 carats) and some sapphires as well. Below, three details of the crown, in which the largest yellow diamond is clearly visible, as well as the largest emerald.

Undoubtedly one of the greatest jewels of the Iranian Treasure is the stunning Naderi Throne, encrusted with 26.733 jewels, including very large spinels and emeralds in the backrest of the throne. This stunning throne is made of wood covered with gold and encrusted with jewels. It’s name is reportedly confusing, since it is not related to Nader Shah (who brought thrones, including the Mugol Peacock Throne from his campaigns eastern and southern Asia) but to the worn “nader” which also means rare or unique: thus, the unique throne, for its peculiar characteristics. The throne, used by Reza Shah the Great in 1926 and by his son Mohamed Reza in 1967, is 2 metres and 25 cm high and its designs include a peacock tail on the backrest, ducks, dragons, leaves and tree branches, and a lion on the front panel of the footstool.

This rather unique crown is the one worn by the Shahbanou of Iran on the 26th October 1967, thus the Empress of Iran’s Crown. Weighting only 1.950 kg, the crown is admirable for its elegance and oriental aspect, mingled with modernity. The crown includes 1545 stones mounted in white gold: 36 rubies, 36 emeralds, 105 pearls and 1469 diamonds, all selected from the loose gems of the treasure. The largest emerald is to be seen in the centre of the biggest sunburst, in the front of the crown.

Read more and see pictures of the different jewels of the Imperial Treasure of Iran

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