Turquoise-studded Golden Basin
Iranian turquoise is world-reknowned. According to the diary entry of Tavernier, the French traveller and gemologist who visited Iran in the mid 17th century, "Turquoise can only be found in Iran and is extracted from two mines there. The first mine, known Kohan Sakhreh, (Old Cliff) is located three days to the northwest of Mashhad, near a large city known as Neishapur. The second mine, known as Now Sakhreh (New Cliff) is located five days hence. The stones from Now Sakhreh are of poor quality and light color, so many of them can be bought on the market cheaply. However, the Shah has exclusive rights to the stones extraced from Kohan Sakhreh, and no one else may buy or sell stones from that mine."
Even today, the province surrounding Mashhad and Neishapur are the main source of turquoise, and it is still quite difficult to get high quality stones. The stones on this golden basin are of the highest quality. The basin has a diameter of 18.3 cm. (7.2 in.) and a height of 5.5 cm. (2.1 in.) The calligraphic verse on the bottom states, "Al-Sultan Nasseridin Shah Qajar.".