The Iranian crown jewels are considered so valuable that they are still used as a reserve to back Iranian currency (and have been used this way by several successive governments). In 1937, during the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi, ownership of the Imperial treasury was transferred to the state. The jewels were placed in the vaults of the National Bank of Iran, where they were used as collateral to strengthen the financial power of the institution and to back the national monetary system. This important economic role is perhaps one reason why these jewels, undeniable symbols of Iran`s monarchic past, have been retained by the current Islamic Republic.
Most of the collection dates back to Safavid times, when the shahs scoured Europe, India and the lands of the Ottoman Empire for booty with which to decorate their capital, Esfahan. But as the Safavid empire crumbled, the jewels became a high profile spoil of war. When Mahmud Afghan invaded Iran in 1722, he plundered the treasury and sent its contents to India. On ascending the throne in 1736, Nader Shah Afshar despatched courtiers to ask for the return of the jewels. When their powers of persuasion proved unequal to the task, he sent an army to prove that he was serious. To get the soldiers off his back, Mohammed Shah of India was forced to hand over the Darya-ye Nur and Kuh-e Nur diamonds, a Peacock Throne (though not the one you`ll see here) and assorted other treasures. After Nader Shah`s murder in 1747, Ahmed Beg plundered the treasury and dispersed the jewels. The Kuh-e Nur, the world`s largest cut diamond, found its way into the sticky fingers of the colonial British and has been locked up in the Tower of London since. The Qajar and Pahlavi rulers enthusiastically added to the jewels collection, which grew to be so valuable that in the 1930s it was transferred to the National Bank of Iran (now the Central Bank of Iran) as a reserve for the national currency.
These jewels and rarities were decorations for the rulers during the past eras, and often showed the glory and extravagance of their courts, as well as their power and wealth.
You can pick up a guidebook (stocks permitting) at the shop as you enter, or take one of the regular and professional tours in English, French, German or Arabic – it`s included in the ticket price and worth waiting for as there are few descriptions in English.