By Brecken Branstrator
The circa 1931 Patiala Ruby Choker from Cartier comes from the collection of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, one of the jewelry house’s most important Indian customers in the ‘20s and ‘30s.
New York—Almost 400 pieces of the most impressive Mughal-era jewels, objects and important gemstones will be up for auction this summer.

On June 19, Christie’s New York will hold the “Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence” jewelry auction, with lots that span 500 years and showcase the culture of Indian jeweled arts from the Mughal Empire (founded in 1526) and the age of the Maharajas to present day.

While Christie’s isn’t releasing pre-sale estimates right now, a spokesperson for the auction house told National Jeweler that Christie’s anticipates the sale could rank as one of its most high-profile, and highest-grossing, jewelry auctions—think the evening auction of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry, which totaled more than $100 million.

The auction lots include significant necklaces, such as the Imperial Spinel Necklace and a diamond rivière necklace containing nearly 200 carats of Golconda stones that was in the collection of the Nizam of Hyderabad.

The jewelry auction also includes turban ornaments, called a sarpech, such as the diamond and spinel one pictured below.

20190501 Spinel Turban Decor

This particular sarpech dates to 1800-1850 Hyderabad and features two spinel dated 1607-1608 and 1633-1634 and is inscribed in Persian with the names of Mughal rulers Jahangir and Shah Jahan.

Also featured in the lots are several significant gemstones, including carved Mughal emeralds ranging from about 10 carats to more than 200 carats.

20190501 Carved EmeraldThis carved emerald from North India, circa 1950, weighs 87.70 carats.
The sale also includes two notable diamonds: the Arcot II, one of the famed Arcot diamonds given to Queen Charlotte by the Nawab of Arcot in the 1700s, and the “Mirror of Paradise,” a Golconda diamond.

Complementing the historic pieces in the jewelry auction is a collection of 20th-century works from majors houses like Bulgari, Cartier, Janesich, Lacloche Frères, Linzeler, Mauboussin and Mellerio dits Meller, as well as contemporary creations by Bhagat and JAR.

For example, there is the Patiala Ruby Choker, pictured below, which Christie’s said is a good example of Western influence on traditional Indian jewelry design.

20190501 Patiala Ruby Choker

Commissioned by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala and created by Cartier in 1931, the ruby, diamond and pearl necklace represents one of the greatest relationships to develop during the Mughal period, as the Maharaja of Patiala was one of Cartier’s most important Indian clients in the 1920s and 1930s.

Christie’s said he often traveled to Paris with trunks of diamonds and gemstones so Cartier could design jewels that captured the blend of the two cultures.

There’s also the enamel and diamond peacock aigrette by Mellerio dits Meller that Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala purchased in 1905, during one of his trips to Paris.

20190501 Diamond Peacock Aigrette

The lots of the “Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence” jewelry auction all come from the Al Thani Collection, a private holding of more than 6,000 works of art spanning ancient times to the present day.

Sale proceeds will go to new acquisitions as well as support ongoing initiatives of The Al Thani Collection Foundation, including exhibitions, publications, lectures and sponsorships of projects at museums around the world.

Highlights of the auction will be on display in London beginning April 24 and in Shanghai from April 25, kicking off a global tour that will make stops in Geneva, Hong Kong and New York.

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