The Plutocratic Paper-Weight
One sure thing that the pre-colonial India never had less, was wealth. The nation was as rich as any nation can get and history has irrefutable proof of that. One interesting story that proves that India was rich beyond imagination is about something as ordinary as a paper weight. Only, there isn’t anything ordinary about this paper weight, for it is a diamond worth 400 crores!
Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddiqi, the last Nizam of the Princely State of Hyderabad, who ruled from 1911 to 1967, was the proud owner of this historical diamond known as the Jacob Diamond and used it as a paper weight! The Nizam was reputed to be the richest man in the world with a whopping 200 crores worth of wealth (more than 3000 crores in current day value). He found the diamond in the shoes of his father and decided to use it as a simple paper weight. Only later did he realise the true value of his ‘paper weight’ and immediately order for it to be added to his 173 piece jewel collection.
The diamond is said to have originated in the mines of Africa, and was put up for sale by Alexander Malcolm Jacob, in 1891, thus bearing his name ever since. The Jacob Diamond is now rated as the 8th largest diamond in the world, and is twice as big as the famous Kohinoor Diamond (about as big as a large hen’s egg). Also called ‘The Victoria’ or ‘The Imperial’ or ‘The Great White’, this jewel still speaks volumes about India’s fabled wealth. The diamond is now currently in the possession of The Government of India.
When we come to terms with the mind-boggling wealth that India was once endowed with, one tends to wonder as to what other fascinating secrets this ancient land has buried within its depths. However much enchanting facts we might dig out from it, a huge diamond used as a paperweight definitely ranks high in the list!