A History of Sapphires in Culture: Shah Jahan

Throughout time, sapphires have been revered for their beauty, their strength and durability, and the perceived powers of wellness and protection. In a celebration of the special cultural relevance of sapphires, we have gathered together some of our favorite stories to share of historical sapphires through all cultures. Part VII continues Shah Jahan.

Shah Jahan – 1592–1666


The name of this Mughal Emperor means “King of the World” in Persian. He, like many of the other Mughal emperors, was an avid gemstone collector.  He is perhaps best known for building the Taj Mahal as a tomb for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

He is less well known for commissioning the famous Peacock Throne described by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1676) in his travels to India. According to Tavernier, the marvelous throne was everything legend declared it would be.

It required some seven years to construct, and derived its name from two enormous peacocks that stood behind it, tails spread and encrusted with blue sapphires, emeralds, rubies, pearls, and other precious stones.  The famous Koh-i-noor diamond was originally placed in the throne, which was shaped like a bed or dais.

When Nadir Shah conquered Delhi in 1739, the throne was spirited to Persia and later destroyed although other Persian thrones, and the Iranian Monarchy itself, are often referred to as the “Peacock Throne.”