Armbands were once quite fashionable among Iranian royalty. Many bore highly ornate enamel decorations, and some contained a small amount of soil from Kerbala, the holy site in modern-day Iraq where Imam Hussein, a major figure in Shi'ite Islam, was martyred. The most precious jewels of the treasury were once incorporated on armbands, such as the Darya-e Noor diamond. Armbands fell from fashion by the middle of Nasseridin Shah's reign. This particular armband is studded with spinels, rubies and diamonds, on a blue enamel background. It does not show a lot of wear and tear, so it may have been designed around the middle of the 19th century. It is 14 cm. ( in.) high, and the center shield is 10.3 cm ( in.) wide. The largest spinel, which is located on the uppermost section of the shield, is 15 cts. Slightly below it is the largest diamond, weighing 20 cts.
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.
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.
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.
The attire of the Empress of Iran, one of the most elegant women of the world, during the Coronation of Teheran had been a subject of speculation for weeks. The revelation came as Her Imperial Majesty entered the Grand Hall of the Golestan Palace of Teheran. Then it was possible to admire her admirably grand dress in all its magnificence. Designed by Marc Bohan, designer of Christian Dior in Paris, the white dress was woven and cut in Iran by Iranian women. It had very small and discreet embroideries of brilliants and it had an impressive train of five meters.
The magnificent white dress contrasted sharply with the colours of the ceremony and gave the Empress a unique serenity. Never had a queen worn such a simultaneously simple and magnificent dress at a coronation. Over it, the Shahbanou of Iran wore a simple cornflower blue sash (with two long golden tassels at the end) from which hung the badge. It was the Nishan-i-Aryamehr, or the Order of the Light of the Aryans, created by the Shah exactly one month before, on the 26th September 1967, in honour of his wife. The Empress wore the star of this order, of which she received the First Class, reserved for female sovereigns or consorts. A second class was reserved for the princesses, who wore it at the Coronation.
Just before her coronation, a magnificent Imperial Robe was placed above Empress Farah’s shoulders. Perhaps the most amazing robe ever to be made, the green velvet cloth was a superb masterpiece, also designed by Marc Boham from Dior but again woven, cut and finalized in Iran, by Iranians. That colour was chosen because green is the colour of the descendants of the Prophet. The gold embroidery in the green velvet, though, gave it the most extraordinary look. But it was not only gold, since the whole length of the train (longer than the train of the white dress) was embroidered with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. The back of the robe was especially magnificent, with the Pahlavi arms embroidered in gold surrounded by a profusion of gold embroideries with alternating rubies and emeralds. The whole robe and train were bordered with vison. Although tremendously magnificent, the Empress’ robe had the very unique characteristic of being extremely different from all the robes ever seen, ever made, or ever imagined. It could not be compared to the British Coronation robes, it could not be compared with the French Coronation robes, it could not be compared with the Austrian Coronation robes: it was, quite simply, uniquely beautiful and different.
Around her neck, the Empress wore the most splendid diamond and emerald necklace and matching earrings, from the Crown Jewels, ordered at Van Cleef & Arpels for the Coronation, along with the Empress’ Crown but made essentially in Teheran by Pierre Arpels. The necklace, mounted in platinum and gold, is composed by an enormous engraved hexagonal emerald, mounted in pendant and surrounded by diamonds of old cut, of four big square emeralds and five smaller ones, (all surrounded by diamonds), four hanging pear pearls and eleven yellow diamonds of very good size. Her Imperial Majesty wore no tiara and had her hair done to match the exact size of the Empress of Iran’s Crown.
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.
The Shah of Iran wore the dark blue uniform of Great Marshal of the Empire and when he left the Marble Palace of Teheran, he wore the high, embroidered in gold, kepi that his father, Reza Shah the Great, had worn to his coronation in 1926. Although that hat had long been out of use in the Army, the Shah decided to wear it has a special family and historical souvenir. Decorating the kepi was the Darya-e Noor or Sea of Light Diamond, an incredibly clear rectangular stone, weighting between 175 and 195 carats, mounted in a frame composed of diamonds, in the form of the Imperial Crown. Around his neck the Emperor wore the badge of the Order of Sipah (first class), while hanging from his shoulders was the highest Iranian decoration, the Collar and Collar Badge of the Nishan-i-Pahlavi or the Order of Pahlavi, founded in 1932 by Reza Shah the Great. The collar is composed of gold double loops forming knots and brought together by platinum, enamelled in blue, circlets. The Badge has four representations of the Pahlavi Crown and in the centre a miniature image of Mount Damavand. The Emperor wore the blue sash, bordered with yellow, of the Order of Pahlavi and the star, and also the star of the Order of Zulfikhar, or Sword of ‘Ali
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.
A spectacular tiara of diamonds and nine cabochon-cut emeralds created by Van Cleef & Arpels for HIH Princess Shahnaz of Iran, the oldest daughter of the Shah, to wear at the Coronation of 1967. The tiara is part of a parure composed of the tiara, a necklace and the pair of earrings seen below the tiara, all with cabochon-cut emeralds and old-cut diamonds, loose stones from the treasure. At the coronation ceremony Princess Shahnaz wore only the tiara and the earrings, wearing the necklace on the same evening to attend opera and the ball.
The three pieces above form emerald and diamond parure created by Van Cleef & Arpels for HIH Princess Shams of Iran, the elder sister of the Shah. The tiara is formed by diamonds and square emeralds, apart of the one on the centre top. The necklace, with ten square cut emeralds, was not actually worn by Princess Shams during the celebrations, since at the ceremony she only wore the tiara and the earrings and on the evening she wore different jewels.
1. This tiara was worn by HIH Princess Fatemeh of Iran at the coronation ceremony of her half-brother, the Shah. The Princess has Qajar blood in her veins and she was curiously the only one to wear a Qajar Tiara, from the treasure. The tiara is in form of sunburst and each of the rays ends either with a pearl or an emerald. The central stone is a spinel.
2. Scene inside the Grand Hall of the Golestan Palace in Teheran. Little Princess Farahnaz wore a small bandeau of diamonds, while her elder sister, on her left, wore the tiara that can be seen at the top of this page. Behind Princess Shahnaz it is possible to see Princess Fatemeh, half-sister of the Shah, wearing the tiara in form of sunburst.
The Empress wears an unidentified diamond tiara with small diamond spikes.
A beautiful demi-parure created by Van Cleef & Arpels for HIM The Shahbanou of Iran, which she wore on the evening of Coronation Day. The outstanding necklace consists of seven square yellow diamonds surrounded by old-cut diamonds from which hang seven pear shaped diamonds. Below you can see the matching earrings.
1. For the grand state banquet of Persepolis, on the 14th October, HIM The Shahbanou of Iran wore a magnificent golden dress and matching long coat, embroidered with silver. Made by Iranian couturiers, the design of the dress and the coat was the same as one the Empress had worn the year before, but in white. The Empress wore the blue sash of the Nishan-i-Aryamehr, the Order of the Light of the Aryans. Her hairdo, by Alexandre de Paris, was designed for a perfect display of the tiara.
2. Two details of the Shahbanou’s dress at the grand state banquet held on the 14th October 1971, her 33rd birthday.
1. The Empress of Iran wore some absolutely fantastic jewels during the grand state banquet. She chose the Noor-ol-Ain Tiara, created for her by Harry Winston, on the occasion of her wedding to HIM The Shah of Iran. Her Majesty wore a simple necklace composed by several rows of diamonds and also a superb pair of earrings, composed by very large diamonds.
The centrepiece of this amazing tiara is the Noor-ol-Ain diamond, which is one of the largest pink diamonds in the world. The diamond may have been brought from India, along with the Sea of Light diamond. The diamond is set in platinum, and is surrounded by pink, clear and yellow diamonds. The Noor-ol-Ain is a brilliant cut, almost tear shaped diamond of approximately 60 carats; the other diamonds range from 14 to 19 carats each.
2.The Noor-ol-Ain Tiara, worn by Her Imperial Majesty on the grand state banquet of Persepolis, also her 33rd birthday.
1. Pasargadae, two days before. On the 12th October, for the opening of the celebrations of the 2500th anniversary of the Empire, Empress Farah had impressed everyone for her impeccable choice of outfit, inspired as it was by the ancient dresses of the wives of Persian monarchs. Her dress, designed, woven and cut in Iran, was of white silk embroidered in gold and silver with several motifs. The small coat was especially rich in its embroidery, as was the lower part of the skirt. Her Majesty wore the blue sash of the Order of the Light of the Aryans.
2. Alexandre de Paris, was responsible for dressing the Empress’ hair and displaying what was said to be Her Majesty’s favourite tiara, the Seven Emeralds Tiara, also made for her by Harry Winston on the occasion of her wedding to the Shah of Iran. The lower band contains diamonds which are shaped like a heart and is made of platinum. There are two rows of yellow, pink and clear diamonds on top of it. There are seven large emeralds framed by diamonds on very top of the tiara. The gems used in this tiara are a combination of the old and new. The brilliant-cut diamonds were probably re-cut in the 19th century from loose Indian diamonds which were in the treasury. The emeralds are probably from South America, though they were cut sometime before Nader Shah's campaign in India. The diamonds surrounding the emeralds are probably also from South Africa. The largest emerald, located in the centre of the top row, is 65 carats and the smallest ones on the ends of the row are 10 carats each. The two largest diamonds are approximately 15 carats each.