The collection

The Shah Jahan Emerald

North India or Deccan, 1621-22. Weight 30.31 ct.
Inscribed in Persian: Shihab al-Din Muhammad Shah Jahan Warrior Emperor 1031

This rare cabochon-cut emerald bears the name of Shah Jahan as emperor but is dated before the prince’s accession to the throne. This indicates that the stone was inscribed at the time he rebelled against his father. This attempt to seize the throne failed and he succeeded his father only some years later in 1628. Emeralds were highly regarded by the Mughal emperors: green was sacred for Muslims and so emeralds often took pride of place in their jewellery. They were often worn as pendants carved with stylised floral and foliate designs or with inscriptions. Either religious or dynastic, the inscriptions were usually worn turned toward the skin, while the carved faces were turned outward. Emeralds were also featured for turban ornaments and necklaces.