The East India Company agent, Sir William Hawkins, recalls the splendid jewellery collection of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. It puts to shame the meagre, gimcrack baubles sported by today’s oligarchs and gangsta rappers.
Likewise he cannot abide that any man should have any precious stone of value, for it is death if he know it not at that present time, and that he hath the refusall thereof. His jeweller, a Bannian, named Herranand [Hira Nand], had bought a diamond of three mettegals, which cost one hundred thousand rupias ; which was not so closely done but newes came to the King. Herranand likewise was befriended, beeing presently acquainted therewith ; who, before the King sent for him, came unto him and challenged the King that he had often promised him that he would come to his house. The King answered that it was true. Herranand therefore replyed that now was the time, for that he had a faire present to bestow upon His Majestic, for that he had bought a stone of such a weight. The King smiled and said : thy lucke was good to prevent me. So preparation was made, and to the Bannians house he went. By this means the King hath ingrossed all faire stones, that no man can buy from five carats upwards without his say ; for he hath refusanll of all, and giveth not by a third part so much as their value.
There was a diamant cutter of my acquaintance tliat was sent for to cut a diamant of three mettegals and a halfe, who demanded a small foule diamant to make powder, wherewith to cut the other diamant. They brought him a chest, as he said, of three spannes long and a spanne and half broad, and a spanne and halfe deepe, full of diamants of all sizes and sorts ; yet could he find never any one for his purpose, but one of five rotties, which was not very foule neither.
He is exceeding rich in diamants and all other precious stones, and usually weareth every day a faire diamant of great price ; and that which he weareth this day, till his time be come about to weare it againe he weareth not the same ; that is to say, all his faire jewels are divided into a certaine quantitie or proportion to weare every day. He also weareth a chaine of pearle, very faire and great, and another chaine of emeralds and ballace rubies. Hee hath another Jewell that commeth round about his turbant, full of faire diamants and rubies. It is not much to bee wondered that he is so rich in jewels and in gold and silver, when he hath heaped together the treasure and jewels of so many kings as his forefathers have conquered, who likewise were a long-time in gathering them together, and all came to his hands. Againe, all the money and jewels which his nobles heape together, when they die come all unto him, who giveth what he listeth to the noblemens wives and children ; and this is done to all them that receive pay or living from the King.