Established about 1591 and lasting until 1948, Hyderabad was once the largest and most densely populated of the former princely states of India. The Nizams (administrators) were rulers of the state which included the country's principal alluvial diamond fields and the old fort of Golconda within its boundaries.
It is perhaps hardly surprising that a diamond issued from this region should bear the name 'Nizam'. The diamond so named is a stone shrouded in mystery, about which little appears to be known for sure. The one fact upon which all seem to agree is that the 'Nizam' is only a partially cut diamond.
In his 'Famous Diamonds of the World' the well-known American gemologist Robert M Shipley, the founder of the Gemological Institute of America, cites a meeting of the Asiatic Society held in 1847 at which Henry Piddington, a geologist and curator of the Museum of Geology at Calcutta, presented a model of an unusual stone together with some notes of a Captain Fitzgerald of the Bengal Artillery, attached to the Nizam's service. Captain Fitzgerald wrote:
About 12 years ago a large diamond was found in the Nizam's country ... The model now shown is of a part only, a piece having been chipped off, which after passing through many hands was purchased by a native banker 70,000 rupees. The larger piece, as represented by the model, is in the possession of the highness the Nizam.
Piddington estimated the weight of the diamond at, '1.108 grains...equal to 277 carats of weight of the rough diamond. We shall then have 155 and three quarter carats if it had been cut and polished entire...' Shipley had pointed out the Piddington's estimated weight is at variance with the model shown in his accompanying sketch.
Another drawing of the same diamond, which shows a stone of a more sophisticated cut and is hard to reconcile with Piddington's sketch, appears in the second part of the Duke of Brunswick's 1860 catalogue. In this section, devoted to the celebrated diamonds existing at the time, the diamond is called 'Indien' and labelled as No 1. The entry refers to, 'Un brillant, forme pendeloque, pesant 250 carats, se trouve aux Grandes-Indes, dans les mains d'un prince: valeur 12,500,000 fr.'
The most recent confirmation that the 'Nizam' remains only semi-cut comes from an interview which Herbert L. Matthews, a well-known American newspaperman, had with the seventh Nizam, Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, in 1934. The Nizam stated that when he was a small boy, the largest uncut diamond in the world was used as a paperweight on his father's desk. Since the Nizam's death in 1977, the bulk of his jewels were removed to the Bank of India, presumably the 'Nizam' diamond remains among them, although there has never been confirmation of this.