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Spinel - The Carew Spinel

The Carew Spinel

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Mughal empire (made)

  • Date:

    17th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by the Rt. Hon. Julia Mary, Lady Carew

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    South Asia, Room 41, case 19

This gemstone is a spinel, a stone gemmologically similar to a ruby. It is inscribed with the names or titles of the Mughal emperors Jahangir (r.1605–1627), Shah Jahan (r.1628–1658) and Alamgir (r.1658–1707), the former Mughal prince Aurangzeb. It was bequeathed to the V&A in 1922 by Julia Mary, Lady Carew. Information supplied by her family stated that it had been bought by a relative in Tehran before 1870.

Physical description

The Carew spinel engraved with the titles of Jahangir (r.1605-27), Shah Jahan (dated 1629-30) and 'Alamgir (Aurangzeb) (dated 1666), drilled from both ends across its longest dimension. The gold pin is secured by a diamond at top and bottom.

Place of Origin

Mughal empire (made)


17th century (made)



Marks and inscriptions

Jahangir Shah-e Akbar Shah 1021
Sahib-i qiran-i sani 1039 sanah 2
'alamgir Shah 107[7] sanah 10
King Jahangir [son of] King Akbar, 1021 (ie 4 March 1612-20 February 1613)
Lord of the Second Conjunction 1039 year 2 (ie 21 August 1629 - 15 January 1630)
King 'Alamgir 107[7] year 10 (ie 25 April 1667-22 June 1667)

These are the titles of Jahangir, Shah Jahan (2) and 'Aurangzeb respectively.


Height: 4 cm, Width: 2.3 cm, Weight: 133.5 ct

Object history note

The stone was said to have been bought in Tehran by a relative of the Rt. Hon. Julia Mary, Lady Carew, some time before 1870. [It was apparently first acquired by Monsieur Richard, from whom it was purchased by Mr Charles Alison, Lady Carew's great-uncle, who was British Minister at the Court of the Shah.]

Descriptive line

Spinel with engraved inscriptions to the Mughal emperors Jahangir, Shah Jahan and 'Alamgir; drilled vertically; gold pin with diamonds at both ends; silk cords

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

The Throne, June 23 1906
Swallow, Deborah and John Guy eds. Arts of India: 1550-1900. text by Rosemary Crill, John Guy, Veronica Murphy, Susan Stronge and Deborah Swallow. London : V&A Publications, 1990. 240 p., ill. ISBN 1851770224, p.82, no.57

Lady Carew was photographed wearing the spinel: for a print in the National Portrait Gallery see: 'Julia Mary (née Lethbridge), Lady Carew' by Herbert Rose Barraud, published by Eglington & Co, carbon print, published 1889. 9 5/8 in. x 7 in. (245 mm x 179 mm) image size. Purchased, 1936. NPG x5633

p. 32, pls. 2.2 and 2.3
Indian Jewellery: The V&A Collection London: V&A Publishing, 2008 Number: ISBN 9781851774838
p. 108, cat. no. 297, Susan Stronge
The Indian Heritage. Court life and Arts under Mughal Rule London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982 Number: ISBN 0 906969 26 3

Production Note

The inscriptions were added by a specialist engraver within the imperial court workshops.


Spinel; Diamond; Gold


Jewellery; Gemstones


South & South East Asia Collection

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