For generations, India has had a rich cultural history centered around gemstones, and regimes have risen and fallen in the pursuit of these tiny treasures. It is the 17th century, however, that truly saw this country become one of the largest commissioners of jewelry around the globe, as well as a stylistic inspiration to the rest of the world. This influence has continued to the present day and has led Christie’s auction house to spearhead a stunning curation, “Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence,” composed of pieces from the Al Thani Collection.
With rare items including a jade cup so realistically carved that the Chinese Emperor Qianlong composed a poem in its honor, and the enamel-and-diamond peacock ornament pictured above—crafted by Mellerio dits Meller and purchased in 1905 by the Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala—this landmark trove is perhaps the most valuable collection of Indian jewelry and objects ever to come to auction. Showcasing pieces that span five centuries, the catalog depicts almost 400 lots, which highlight the illustrious craftsmanship from the Mughal period and the age of the maharajas.
The collection covers the 17th century through modern day and focuses on the ruling dynasties and their collaborations with renowned jewelry houses that resulted in some of the world’s most coveted ornaments. The exhibition finishes with a selection of contemporary examples inspired by Indian motifs from Bhagat and JAR.
Make sure to catch the exhibition, which runs June 14 through 18 in New York City, followed by the June 19 auction, to secure one of these spectacular pieces for yourself.