• Thu. Mar 30th, 2023

The Mughal Emerald: The World’s Largest Engraved Emerald


Dec 9, 2022

Treasured jewels have been symbols of wealth and standing for hundreds of years. From rubies to sapphires to emeralds, societies all internationally have desired these stones for his or her use in stunning jewellery. Normally, the larger the stone the higher. And within the case of emeralds, there are few larger or higher than the Mughal Emerald. The stone is price a whopping $2.2 million and dates all the way in which again to 1695. The story behind the world’s largest engraved emeralds is fascinating.

The Mughal Emerald was carved through the reign of the final of the 4 nice Mughal emperors of India, Aurangzeb, who reigned between 1658 and 1707. The emerald is definitely the one identified emerald carved and dated through the traditional Mughal interval. For that reason, it has develop into considerably of a normal for relationship all different carved Indian emeralds.

The Mughal Emerald is believed to have been commissioned through the reign of Aurangzeb, the final of the 4 nice Mughal emperors of India, between 1658 and 1707, nevertheless, as we’ll see it was not commissioned by him. ( Public Domain ).

The Origins of the Mughal Emerald

The one identified supply of fantastic giant emeralds throughout this time was in Colombia. All different historical sources of emeralds akin to Egypt, Austria, and Pakistan had been exhausted. When the conquistadors arrived on South American shores in the midst of the sixteenth century, they noticed the gorgeous inexperienced stones within the graves of Peru and Mexico, though they might not hint their pure supply. Then, in 1537, the conquistadors discovered a pure supply in Colombia. They instantly started mining it, following their subjugation of the native tribes.

Naturally, the gorgeous gem stones have been shipped again to Europe together with numerous different treasures. That was, in any case, what the conquistadors had come for. By commerce, the emeralds would ultimately find yourself in one of many three nice Islamic empires of the interval: the Ottoman Empire (1299-1923), the Safavid Persian Empire (1501-1722), and the Mughal Empire of India (1556-1707). This was as a result of the demand for emeralds in these empires was enormous, particularly among the many ruling lessons.

It’s seemingly that this was how the notorious Mughal Emerald made its solution to India. It was virtually definitely mined in Colombia earlier than being shipped again to Spain, the place they seemingly realized that the Mughal Empire was a profitable marketplace for their emeralds given the demand, in addition to the large variety of riches the Mughal emperors needed to commerce with.

Mughal or Deccani emerald, dated AH 1107/1695-6 AD. The oblong-cut emerald referred to as ‘The Mogul Mughal’ weighing 217.80 carats, the obverse engraved with Shi’a invocations in elegant naskh script, dated 1107 A.H., the reverse carved throughout with foliate ornament, the central rosette flanked by single giant poppy flowers, with a line of three smaller poppy flowers both facet, the bevelled edges carved with cross sample incisions and herringbone ornament, every of the 4 sides drilled for attachments,
2 1/16 x 1 9/16 x 7/16 in. (5.2 x 4x 1.2 cm.) (

The Mughal Emerald in India

Upon its arrival in India, the emerald was entrusted to a talented gem cutter and carver. Whether or not the carver was a Shi’ite Muslim or the gem was commissioned by a Shi’ite Muslim who entrusted the duty to the carver is unknown. Both method, a Shi’ite prayer was carved into the dear gem by an especially expert carver. The prayers invoke the blessings of God, the Prophet Muhammad and the twelve Shi’ite Imams. What this implies is that it was undoubtedly not the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who had the emerald commissioned, on condition that Mughal emperors have been all religious Sunni Muslims .

The inscription reads:

O Merciful One, O Compassionate One
O God
God bless Muhammad and ‘Ali
and Fatima and al-Husain
and al-Hasan and ‘Ali
and Muhammad and Ja’far
and Musa
and ‘Ali and Muhammad
and ‘Ali
and al-Husaini and the steadfast Mahdi               


It’s potential that the emerald belonged to a Shi’ite officer of the empire of Persian origin, or one of many Shi’ite Deccan sultanates who had been subjugated by Aurangzeb. On this regard, the emerald is considerably shrouded in thriller. It isn’t precisely clear who it belonged to or the place it was up till the yr 1958, when an American by the identify of Alan Caplan turned up in India.

Alan Caplan was extremely well-studied in geology and mineralogy. He had a eager curiosity in gem stones and made many journeys to Colombia seeking emeralds, in addition to to Burma seeking rubies. On a visit to Burma in 1958, he determined to additionally go to India, the place the emerald was on sale and he purchased it. It’s unknown precisely who put the gemstone up on the market, but it surely was seemingly in a non-public assortment of a connoisseur of gem stones in India.

The Design and Legacy of the Mughal Emerald

The Mughal Emerald itself is 2.06 inches (5.2 centimeters) by 1.56 inches (4 centimeters), with a thickness of 1.56 inches (4 centimeters). It weighs 217.80 carats, or roughly 1.5 ounces (43.560 grams). The gem has been reduce by its carvers right into a table-cut or flat-topped, rectangular-shaped stone with two parallel flat rectangular faces.  On one facet are the Islamic inscriptions already talked about, whereas the opposite facet is intricately adorned with stunning flowers. The Mughal Emerald has come to be an emblem, not solely of the Mughal Empire, but in addition of the best cultural and creative achievements achieved by India.

The Mughal interval was one of many golden durations of Indian historical past and it gave us unbelievable structure, artwork and tradition. For instance, the breathtaking Taj Mahal was constructed on this interval, in addition to the Red Fort of Delhi . The artwork of engraving emeralds and different treasured stones was additionally perfected throughout this era of Indian historical past. This isn’t shocking, as Indians had already discovered how one can engrave diamonds through the Mughal interval, a feat which in the present day can solely be finished utilizing a fullerite pen or laser expertise. One thing tougher than a diamond should have been used to realize this staggering feat, and so consultants have been left bewildered.

In the end, the Mughal Emerald remained in Caplan’s possession up till his loss of life in 1998. Then, in 2001, it was bought by his heirs. Christie’s in New York have been entrusted with the sale. The well-known Mughal Emerald fetched a report worth of $2.2 million at public sale when it was purchased by an nameless purchaser. At present, it’s on show as a part of the Al Thani Assortment on the Museum of Islamic Artwork in Doha, Qatar.

High picture: The intricately carved Mughal Emerald is a powerful instance of the expert gem carvings of the time. Supply: Museum of Islamic Art Twitter

By Mark Brophy

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