India, which was once synonymous with opulence and wealth, has a great history of maharajas and their love for all things extravagant, and jewelry and gemstones being the maharaja’s and maharani’s equal favorites. Over time, Indian kings lost their affluence and status to the foreign rulers in the country and the magnificent jewelry that once adorned the royalties of India now finds place in museums around the world. One can guess the level of lavishness from the fact that the most sought after international jewelry brands like Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Mauboussin, Chaumet, Mellerio all had the Indian maharajas as their cherished clients.
For them, they created extraordinary jewels combining Indian color, motifs and forms with European elegance and techniques. Some of the most iconic jewelry created for the Indian maharajas includes The Patiala necklace created by Cartier, The Baroda set by Van Cleef & Arpels, The pear shaped diamond necklace for the maharaja of Indore by Chaumet, The turban aigrette and the ceremonial necklace for the maharaja of Nawanagar by Cartier, and these are just a chosen few examples from the numerous orders.
The Patiala Necklace
client, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, consisted of an entire range of jewels but the most legandary of them all is the Patiala necklace made in 1928, from platinum and 2930 diamonds. With five rows of diamondencrusted platinum chains and oversized gems, the focus was on the central cusion-cut pale yellow De Beers diamond (world’s seventh largest) weighing 234.69 carats along with Burmese rubies. The necklace now has a mystery attached to it as it disappeared after 20 years of its completion. Eventually parts of the necklace were found in London. Cartier bought the incomplete necklace, restored it with carefully chosen copies and still owns this wonderful historic creation. This was Cartier’s highest single commissioned jewelry ever created. With a peak into the extravagent jewellery tastes of the maharajas and maharanis and how the most sought after jewellers of the world wanted to do their best for them, we can only take pride in being a part of the country with such a rich heritage and history.
The Baroda Set
The Maharani of Baroda, had an insatiable passion for jewelry and a collection of over 300 pieces dating back to the Mughal era. On her frequent visits to Paris, she commisioned the famous Baroda Set to Van Cleef and Arpels in 1950. It consisted of 13 pear-shaped Colombian emeralds weighing a total of 154.70 carats and the main body featured a lotus flowers shaped diamond and emerald set.
Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar and Maharani Sanyogita Devi of Indore were considered to be one of the choicest couples of the jazz age. They spent most of their time in Europe and were very fond of European jewellery craftsmanship. The two famous Indore pear diamonds, weighing 47 carats, each were used in adorning the Maharani with a diamonds and emerald necklace by Mauboussin, and also the Maharaja with a négligé pearl and diamond necklace made by Chaumet.