Nearly 400 rare jewels of the Moghul dynasty at auction with Christie’s in New York ♦ ︎
The Mughals, we remember for those unfamiliar with the history of India, were members of an imperial dynasty that reigned during the Islamic domination of the great Asian country. The Mughal Empire lasted from 1526 to 1857. Its founder was Babur the Conqueror: he was a descendant of the great Turkish-Mongolian general Tamerlane and before arriving in India he ruled a city of today’s Uzbekistan.
Of the Mughals the ancient palaces have remained, buildings like the famous Taj Mahal, but also many jewels, much sought after by collectors. On June 19, in New York, a selection of these jewels will be put on sale at an exceptional auction of Christie’s: Maharajas and Mughal Magnificence. Jewels that have made history, unique pieces that date back almost 500 years ago, at the time of the first part of the Mughal dynasty. The collection includes almost 400 objects made of gold, diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, rubies. In addition to the classic jewels, such as necklaces and rings, there are also daggers in the catalog, many of which have been worn or used by the royal and noble families of India.
Indian royal treasures
Among the many Indian royal treasures in the collection is a jigha (turban ornament) encrusted with diamonds on white gold, created between the mid and late nineteenth century. The collection also includes exceptional diamonds, including the Mirror of Paradise Diamond and the Arcot II Diamond, both originated from the Golconda mine, the oldest diamond mine known to man. The Arcot Diamond is a pear-shaped, brilliant-cut stone weighing 17.21 carats. It is one of two similar diamond drops sent to Queen Charlotte (1744-1818), the wife of King George III, from the Nawab of Arcot. The diamonds were later purchased at auction by the Marquis of Westminster and then mounted in the Tiara of Westminster, which was worn at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Another remarkable piece: the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace (from the middle to the end of the nineteenth century), is made of gold with seven large triangular diamonds, each framed by a perforated panel of diamond leaves with a Kindan workmanship, a traditional type of jewel made with Indian precious stones, which includes various gems and a gold leaf positioned between the stones and its support.
Of all the great jewelery houses, Cartier has had the longest and most productive collaboration with India, which derives from Jacques Cartier’s passion for the country. The jeweler made frequent visits to India, meeting regularly with the royal families with whom he established close relationships. Many of Cartier’s most beautiful jewels of this period have been inspired by Indian architecture, gems and jewels. One such example is a splendid platinum belt brooch from 1922 with diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. This piece was part of the collection of Sybil Sassoon, Marquess of Cholmondeley and daughter of Sir Edward Sassoon and Baroness Aline de Rothschild. It was worn both for the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Federico Graglia