The Timur Ruby and its Storied History

Though the fiery red color and luscious character of rubies have allured the world since centuries, yet some specific pieces have created niche for themselves in history. One of them is the Timur ruby. It has a rich history behind it. Asian in origin, it remained in the continent for long, before it was finally taken by British to their kingdom.

Without further ado, let’s read about its fascinating and real story.

Currently in Queen’s possession, the ruby weighs 352.5 carats and until 1851, it was the largest ruby of the world. The gemstone took its name after the great Asian conqueror Timur. He, lovingly, got the gemstone inscribed. It went to his son Shah Rukh (son of Timur) and then to Ulugh Beg (son of Shah Rukh). When he ruled, there were many wars with Persians and the ruby went to Shah Abbas I of Persia. In 1612, he presented this magnificent ruby to his close friend and Mughal ruler of India, Jahangir.

The ruby then went to his successor Aurangzeb, who was further succeeded by Bahadur Shah I. Then the unique gemstone went to Jahandar Shah and to Farrukhsiyar. It was him, who got this ruby inscribed for another time, which read, ‘This is the ruby from among the 25,000 authentic jewels of the King of Kings, the Sultan Sahib Qiran [Timur], which in the year 1153 [1740 AD] from the jewels of Hindustan reached this place [Isfahan].’ The ruby was then passed to Rafi-ul-Dariya, and then to his elder brother Shah Jahan II. He was murdered and the ruby went to Muhammad Shah, who was last to possess the ruby from the House of Timur.

In 1739, Nader Shah from Iran defeated Muhammad Shah and got hold of his Royal treasure and got most famous jewels like Koh-i-Noor, Darya-ye-Noor, Timur ruby and also the Peacock Throne. In 1747, the ruby went to Ahmad Shah Durrani, who became the last person to have this ruby inscribed, but by deleting what Timur had inscribed on it.

Ahmad Shah’s grandson, who had this ruby was expelled from his homeland and took refuge in Punjab, ruled by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who forced him to surrender the jewel. In 1849, Punjab was annexed by British and all the State Jewels came under the jurisdiction of a Board of Administration.

In 1851, this ruby, along with other jewels, was presented to the Queen. Mesmerized by its beauty, she said, “They are cabochons, uncut, unset, but pierced. The one is the largest in the world, therefore even more remarkable than the Koh-i-Noor!” In April 1853, Garrard designed a necklace for Queen Victoria using this ruby and other rubies and diamonds. The Royal jewelry was re-designed twice, once after two months of its origin and later in 1858. In spite of all these changes, Queen never wore it. Though, Queen Elizabeth is said to be fascinated by its beauty, she never wore it. Reasons are unknown to us, but some people assume that she thought it to be politically incorrect step to wear a jewel which has such an incredible and rich Indian heritage.