Indian jewels in focus at Christie’s heritage auction

A natural pearl and diamond necklace of Rajmata Gayatri Devi, wife of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur, would be on offer as well.
Indian jewels in focus at Christie’s heritage auction

Ever since its announcement, Christie's upcoming auction —"Maharajas and Mughal Magnificence" — of Indian jewels, gemstonesand decorative objects that span over 500 years, has been the talk of the artworld and is expected to set some new records on Wednesday.

The "unprecedented group" of objects is from TheAl Thani Collection of the royal family of Qatar. It is expected to seecompetitive bidding from across the globe.

As per Christie's, this collection is poised to be the mostvaluable auction of jewelry and jewelled objects. The current record is held byThe Collection of Elizabeth Taylor, which totals $144 million.

Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's jade hilted dagger, thepriceless jewels of the Nizams of Hyderabad, and a string of pearls belongingto Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur are among the 400 royal artefacts that wouldbe auctioned on Wednesday.

"The collection begins in Mughal India, the mostimportant dynasty that ruled the country, which was famous for its emeralds, diamonds,sapphires, rubies, weapons and objects which are bejewelled beyondbelief," the auction house said.

"(The sale) traces the history of jewellery from earlyMughal India through the Maharajas and their collaborations with the world'smost renowned jewellery houses to create some of the most exceptional pieces ofjewellery ever made," it added.

The dagger of Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal emperor whocommissioned the Taj Mahal, is one of the sale highlights. A Mughalmasterpiece, it features scrolling designs inlaid in gold at the top of theblade, and an inscription in 'Nastaliq' script with a title the monarch hadtaken. It is estimated to fetch between $1,500,000 and $2,500,000.

The collection also has 'sarpechs' (turban ornaments),necklaces such as a diamond riviere necklace originally from the collection ofthe Nizam of Hyderabad, 33 Golconda diamonds (estimated between $1,200,000 and$1,500,000), and the Nizam of Hyderabad's diamond encrusted ceremonial sword,set with diamonds, rubies and emeralds ($1,000,000-$1,500,000).

Also featured are carved Mughal emeralds, jewelled boxes,the famed 'Arcot II' diamond, presented to Queen Charlotte, wife of King GeorgeIII, by Muhammad Ali Wallajah Nawab of Arcot, and the magnificent 'Mirror ofParadise' D colour Internally Flawless Golconda diamond.

An 18th century gold finial from the throne of Mysore'sruler Tipu Sultan would go under the hammer as well. Set with diamonds, rubiesand emeralds, the marble plinth with gilt metal fittings is one of eight finialsthat ornamented the gold throne of Tipu Sultan. Following his defeat at thehands of the British in the battle of Seringapatam (1799), the throne wasdismantled and its components were dispersed.

The Patiala Ruby Choker created by Cartier in 1931 is anexample of the fusion between India and the West. It was commissioned byMaharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala and is on sale. Another carved emeraldbrooch, and interchangeable 'Jigha' turban mounting depicts Lord Rama, Sita andHanuman.

Another offering, the Enamel and Diamond Peacock Aigrette byMellerio dits Meller, was purchased by Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala in1905 in Paris.

A natural pearl and diamond necklace of Rajmata GayatriDevi, wife of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur, would be on offer as well.

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