The Dresden Green, the Archduke Joseph and the Florentine. (Part 5/7)

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Dresden Green Diamond

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(L to R: Replica of the Dresden Green, the Dresden Green in its hat clasp setting; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

The earliest mention of this particular jewel was somewhere in the 1700s. The discovery of the rare green diamond took place in the mines of Kollur, Andhra Pradesh. It got its name; the Dresden Green from the place of the same name. Dresden is the Capital of Saxony, a state in Germany. The diamond is said to have been on display in Dresden for about two centuries. Mentions of the diamond have been made in articles and letters that were written or published in the 18th century.

The Dresden Green is a 41 carats (8.2 g) diamond that is naturally green. On being studied by the Gemmological Institute of America, it was found to be of a superior quality, not to be found as often amongst its kind. IIa type which is classified as a percentage short of a completely natural diamond devoid of impurities and such diamonds are usually colourless which makes the Dresden Green all the more special. Long exposure to beta and gamma radiation (we’re talking about years) is what causes the entire stone to turn green colour; also known as the irradiation of diamonds.

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(The Dresden Green accompanied by the Dresden White in its hat clasp design; image courtesy of Famous Diamonds.)

The Dresden Green has since been a part of the contents housed by the Green Vault that was created at the behest of Frederick Augustus I. After the originally designed ornament featuring the jewel came apart, Frederick Augustus II had the court jeweller design a second ornament; the Decoration of The Golden Fleece which held both, the Dresden Green and the Dresden White. In the 1970s this ornament too fell apart and the Dresden Green was finally incorporated into a beautiful hat clasp design.

 

The Archduke Joseph Diamond

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(The Archduke Joseph August; image courtesy of Wikimedia.)

Archduke Joseph August (who reigned from 1872 to 1962), a prince of the Hapsburg Dynasty was the first recorded owner of the diamond which is why the diamond got this name. Originally the diamond weighed 78.54 carats but was later cut down and now weighs 76.45 carats. It is a colourless diamond with a high internal clarity cut in a rectangular cushion shape that comes from the Kollur mines, Andhra Pradesh.

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(The Archduke Joseph Diamond; image courtesy of Famous Diamonds.)

The diamond was eventually passed down to his son, years later it was safely locked away in a vault during the Second World War. It resurfaced at Christie’s during an auction in Geneva, 1993 and then again in another auction by the same Auction house in 2012 where it was sold for a world record price; more than three times the price of $6.5m which is what it was sold for in 1993.

It is now in the care of Molina Fine Jewellers owned by Alfredo J. Molina.

 

The Florentine Diamond

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(Replica of the Florentine diamond by Scott Sucher who is a stone cutter and an expert in faceting replicas of famous diamonds; image courtesy of Famous Diamonds.)

This diamond was known by a host of names, some of which are the Tuscan, the Tuscany Diamond, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, the Austrian Diamond and the Austrian Yellow Diamond. It was however, famous as the Florentine diamond. The jewel was a complex and irregular, nine-sided, 126-faceted double rose cut yellow diamond that weighed 137.27 carats (27.454 g).

(L to R: Drawing of the Florentine diamond by Tavernier, drawings of the Florentine diamond by  Max Bauer from his 1904 book – Precious Stones; images courtesy of Famous Diamonds.)

The history of this diamond is disputed but as per records found in the writings of Jean Baptiste Tavernier who was a French jeweller and traveller. According to Tavernier’s notes, the jewel was one among many possessions of the Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1657. It made its way into the collection of the Habsburg Crown Jewels in the Hofburg in Vienna during the early 1900s. The stone is said to have been stolen from Charles I of Austria at some point and was apparently brought to the United States in the 1920s where it was re-cut and sold.

At present there isn’t any knowledge of the Florentine Diamond’s whereabouts.

 

 

The Sancy, the Orlov and the Great Mughal. (Part 4/7)

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The Sancy Diamond

wikimediasancySancy diamond (illustration from the Swedish encyclopedia Nordisk familjebok)

( Illustration of the Sancy diamond  from the Swedish encyclopedia Nordisk familjebok; image courtesy of Wikimedia.)

Discovered in the Kollur mines of the Guntur district, South India around the 1400s, the Sancy diamond is a pale yellow stone weighing 55.23 carats (11.046 g). It is in the shape of a shield and has an unusual cut wherein it has two crowns in place of the usual crown (the upper portion) and pavilion (the lower portion).

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(The Sancy diamond, image courtesy of Museum Diamonds)

Nicolas de Harlay, seigneur de Sancy was a French diplomat who got a hold of the diamond when the claimant to the Portuguese throne, António, Prior of Crato sold it to him. Henry III of France is said to have borrowed the jewel from Sancy to adorn his cap. It is said that Sancy eventually sold it to James I who succeeded Queen Elizabeth in the 1600s which is when, it is believed, the jewel was christened the Sancy Diamond.

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(Clockwise: The Regent diamond, The Sancy diamond and the Hortensia diamond on display at the Louvre; image courtesy of Board Host)

The diamond kept disappearing and resurfacing time and again between the 1600s and the 1900s. It disappeared alongside the Regent Diamond and the Hope Diamond during the French Revolution. It disappeared once more after it was sold to Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, an Indian prince, from the Demidov family collection in the 1800s. It made reared its head at the Paris Exposition in 1867 only to vanish again. A prominent family by the name Astor possessed it for 72 years after which it was sold for $1 million to the Louvre; which is where it rests to this day.

 

The Orlov Diamond

wikimediaSketch of the Orlov Diamond from the book Precious Stones by Max Bauer, published in 1904.

( Sketch of the Orlov Diamond from the book Precious Stones by Max Bauer, published in 1904; image courtesy of Wikimedia.)

This diamond was found in the Kollur mines during the early 1700s. History suggests that it passed through many hands before it reached Amsterdam where it was bought by Count Grigory Grigorievich Orlov, a man favoured immensely by Empress Catherine of Russia. It is said that he gave the diamond to her as a gift in an effort to win her back after their separation.

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(The Imperial Sceptre that was designed to hold the Orlov diamond; image courtesy of The Enchantd Manor.)

The Orlov Diamond was named after the Count by the Empress and she had her jeweller design a sceptre especially to hold the diamond. The Imperial Sceptre now holds the diamond that is said to weigh 189.62 carats (37.924 g). The Orlov is white with a greenish-blue tinge and has what is known as an Indian rose-style cut but it also known for its unusual shape which is like that of half an egg.

This precious stone is now housed by the Diamond Fund of the Moscow Kremlin as a part of their collection.

 

The Great Mughal Diamond

Grand_Mogol_d'apres_TavernierDrawing of the Great Moghul diamond, by Tavernier in 1676

( Drawing of the Great Moghul diamond, by Tavernier in 1676; image courtesy of Wikimedia.)

1650 is the year that is believed to be the one in which the Great Mughal Diamond was discovered in the Kollur mines of Andhra Pradesh. History suggests that the diamond in the rough weighed close to 700 carats and was gifted to Shah Jahan. A Venetian gem-cutter was hired who ground away at the diamond to rid it of its flaws but he ended up reducing the size and weight of the jewel to a great extent.

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(Miniature painting of Emperor Shah Jahan; image courtesy of Publish Your Articles.)

Famed traveller and jeweller Jean Baptiste Tavernier makes mention of the diamond in his book Six Voyages, describing it as rose cut stone, round and very high on one side with a slight crack on the lower edge and a small flaw.

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( A replica of the Great Mughal Diamond; image courtesy of Wikimedia.)

It is said that the diamond disappeared when Nader Shah invaded India. Speculations are that it was cut and divided into smaller stones; rumours linking it to the Koh-i-noor, Darya-i-noor and most popular of all these speculations is that the Orlov Diamond is the Great Mughal Diamond in disguise and under a new name because it shares the same cut and colour. Its whereabouts remain unknown to this day.

Famous Pink Diamonds (Part 3/7)

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(Clockwise: Jean Baptiste Tavernier, image courtesy of Wikimedia.

A drawing of the Great Table Diamond done by Tavernier in 1676; image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Replicas of the Darya-i-noor, the Noor-ul-Ain and the Great Table Diamond; image courtesy of Museum Diamonds.

Darya-i-noor; image courtesy of Pinterest.

The Noor-ul-Ain Tiara; image courtesy of Sotheby’s.)

The Great Table Diamond is mentioned by French jeweler Jean-Baptiste Tavernier in 1642; in his book and he calls it by the name Diamanta Grande Table hence it was christened so. The diamond is said to have graced the imperial throne of Shah Jahan the Mughal Emperor. The belief, according to a team of expert researchers is that this diamond may have been divided into two pieces that are known famously as the Darya-i Noor and the Noor-ul-Ain.

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(Clockwise: Darya-i-noor; image courtesy of Pinterest.

Persian miniature portrait of Nader Shah 1743; image courtesy of Pinterest.

Naser al-Din Shah Qajar; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

Darya-i-noor, Persian for Sea of Light, is a diamond that was mined from Kollur in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh during the 1700s. It is by far, one of the largest diamonds in the world, table cut, pale pink in colour weighing 186 carats (37.2 g). The Darya-i-noor belonged in the treasury of the Mughal Emperor but was taken along with other famed jewels by Iranian invader Nader Shah in the 1700s. Eventually it was passed down the line till it was lost to Mohammad Khan Qajar, of the Qajar dynasty of Iran. Naser al-Din Shah Qajar was said to favour the jewel and apparently, he wore it quite often. Ever since then it has been a part of their treasury. The diamond is mounted on a frame studded by 457 smaller diamonds and 4 rubies and it is now part of Iran’s Imperial Crown Jewels Collection.

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(Clockwise: Farah Diba Last Empress Of Iran with the Noor-ul-Ain Diamond Tiara; image courtesy of Pinterest.

Empress of Iran Farah Pahlavi (Farah Diba) is pictured sitting beside her husband Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi; image courtesy of Pinterest.

The Noor-ul-Ain Tiara; image courtesy of Sotheby’s.)

The Noor-ul-Ain, meaning ‘Light of the Eye’, is a pale pink oval cut brilliant diamond, weighing approximately 60 carats (12 g) now. It originated from the Kollur mines in the Guntur district. The diamond is currently the centrepiece of the imperial tiara designed by Harry Winston for the Empress of Iran Farah Pahlavi (Farah Diba) on the occasion of her wedding to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.  It is set in platinum and is surrounded by pink yellow and white diamonds, 324 of them in all. It is currently a part of the Iranian Imperial Crown Jewels Collection.

 

The Koh-i-noor, a little Hope and the Regent. (Part 2/7.)

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(Clockwise: The Koh-i-noor diamond, The crown of the British monarch, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II, images courtesy of Pinterest and Getty Images.)

The Koh-i-noor Diamond; Persian for Mountain of Light, was discovered in the 13th century in the Kollur mines of the Guntur District. It is an oval-cut brilliant, colourless diamond presently weighing 105.602 carats (21.1204 g) that is infamous for its long and bloodied history. It has passed through many royal hands, the likes of which are Alauddin Khalji, Babur, Humayun, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb, Nader Shah, Shah Shujah Durrani, and Maharaja Ranjit Singh upon whose death the diamond was surrendered to Queen Victoria (the reigning Queen of England at the time) and it is now set in the Crown of the Monarch of the United Kingdom and a few Commonwealth realms; Queen Elizabeth II.

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(Clockwise: Socialite Evalyn Walsh, the diamond being exhibited, the Hope Diamond in the original setting and the diamond in the new setting designed by Harry Winston. Images courtesy of Pinterest)

The Hope Diamond is an antique cushion cut blue diamond, now weighing 45.52 carats (9.104 g) that was originally discovered in the Kollur mines in the 17th century. It made its way into the hands of French Gem Merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier as the Tavernier Blue after which it was cut and sold to King Louis XIV. Years later it showed up in the collection of banker Thomas Hope which is where it got its name; Hope Diamond. The diamond was sold to socialite Evalyn Walsh whom the diamond has adorned on numerous occasions. Harry Winston was the last to be in possession of it before he handed it over to the Smithsonian.

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(Clockwise: The Regent Diamond, Napoleon, the Regent Diamond on the hilt of Napoleon’s sword, Marie Antoinette, Empress Eugenie and the Regent on display at the Apollon at the Louvre Museum. Images courtesy of Pinterest, Art Net, Interest Planet and Obsidian Wings.)

The Regent Diamond now weighs 141 carats (28.2 g) and is a cushion cut brilliant, also known as the Pitt diamond and it has quite a chequered past, as do most gems of high value; especially diamonds. It was discovered by a slave in the Paritala mines of the Krishna district during the 1700s. The slave stole the diamond and found a sea captain with whom he struck a deal for safe passage but greed blinded the captain who murdered the slave and sold the diamond to an Indian merchant after which he took his own life. The diamond was sold to Governor Thomas Pitt of Ft. George; that is where it got its name – the Pitt Diamond. More than a decade later it was sold to the Regent of France which is when it was renamed the Regent Diamond. It passed through the hands of Marie Antoinette (on her velvet hat), Napoleon (the hilt of his sword) and Empress Eugenie (studded on her diadem) until it found its way back onto French soil and was put on display at the Apollon Gallery of the Louvre Museum where it is housed to this day.

More about famous Golconda diamonds in the next post!

The Golconda Diamonds. (Part 1/7)

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If you would, so kindly, follow us (hypothetically speaking) down to the southern part of India, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana specifically, we could begin to talk about the treasure trove of valuable stones that the region has birthed.

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(Image of the map of Andhra Pradesh, courtesy of mapsofindia.com)

What we have here are famous diamonds that have lent said fame to Golconda (the well-known citadel located in Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana) and are popularly known as the Golconda Diamonds. In fact (as per the word of Historians) diamonds were never actually found in the rough in the Golconda area but were discovered in mines located in the districts of Krishna and Guntur (along the Coastal Andhra line).

Apparently, Historians say that Golconda used to serve as the capital of the medieval sultanate of the Qutb Shahi dynasty at one point; as a result, the movement of said diamonds was reportedly, to and from Golconda. Hence, the popular name; Golconda Diamonds.

Historians report the existence of a number of diamond mines that were located in the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, namely Kollur (in the Guntur district) and Paritala (in the Krishna district). The Qutb Shahis and Nizams profited greatly from the mining of these stones during their reign. Krishna valley, alongside the river Krishna is said to be an area rich in Kimberlite. Kimberlite is an igneous rock which has been known to contain diamonds in the rough. So far, several private companies are also currently working in the Krishna alluvial areas which experts have claimed have a high potential where diamonds are concerned because of the kimberlite reserves which have produced some of the world’s best diamonds in the past.

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(Image of a Kimberlite diamond, courtesy of thermofisher.com)

Some of those diamonds are the Koh-i-noor, the Hope Diamond, the Regent/Pitt Diamond, The Orlov Diamond, the Great Moghul Diamond, the Nizam Diamond, and the Dresden Green Diamond among quite a few others.

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(Sketches of the Kohinoor and Regent from circa 1860, courtesy of cnn.com)

More about these diamonds in the next post. Stay tuned gentlefolk!

Baroda: Maharaja Khanderao’s Oyster.

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(Maharaja Khanderao, 8th Gaekwad and ruler of Baroda; image courtesy of Dulcey Heller)

Shrimant Maharaja Sir Khanderao II Gaekwad, Sena Khas Khel Shamsher Bahadur belonged to the Gaekwad Dynasty that ruled Baroda between the early 18th century and mid-20th century. Maharaja Khanderao’s reign lasted for a period of 14 years from the time he ascended the throne (1856) at the demise of his predecessor and brother Maharaja Ganpatrao Gaekwad until his (Maharaja Khanderao’s) death in 1870. He was considered one of the most illustrious connoisseurs and collectors of jewels during the 19th century and has made a rather sizeable contribution to (what were considered a part of) the Crown Jewels of Baroda (before they were sold or auctioned off much later for various reasons).

In the 1960s Maharaja Khanderao made a decision to offer an exquisite carpet made of precious material and studded with gemstones as a gift to the Shrine of the Holy Prophet in Medina. It is said he planned to have four such carpets made and these were to cover the Holy Prophet’s grave, much like the ones covering the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal in Agra.

(Details of the Embroidery on the Baroda Pearl Carpet; image courtesy of Oddity Central)

This extravagant carpet is approximately 5ft. 8in. by 8ft. 8in. in dimension. It is covered with an elaborate floral motif embroidered design that consists of three large yet beautiful diamond filled rosettes and 32 smaller rosettes. An approximated 2.2 million pearls and beads have been used in this densely embroidered carpet.  The smaller gems that cover the embroidered area are natural Basra pearls and beads on a foundation of silk and fine deer hide.

The total estimated weight of the Basra pearls is about 30,000 carats. The gemstones worked into the embroidery consists of approximately 2,500 table cut and rose cut diamonds, approximately 350-400 carats. These jewels are all set in silver topped gold or possibly blackened gold; the floral motifs have foil backed rubies, emeralds and sapphires stones.

Maharaja Khanderao went about commissioning this carpet by 1965 and it is said to have taken a long time in the making. Unfortunately, the Maharaja passed away before it could be delivered. His successors chose to keep the carpet and add it to the collection of crown jewels in the possession of the Gaekwads of Baroda instead of adhering to the late Maharaja’s wishes of sending it to Medina.

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(The carpet on display at the Ritz-Carlton in Doha, Qatar; image by Karim Jaafar, Getty Images)

The carpet was exhibited in the Lakshmi Vilas Palace of Baroda after which it was photographed and written about in 1908 in a publication by George Frederick Kunz called The Book of the Pearls. It is said to have been recovered from the Sita Devi collection in a vault in Geneva during the 1980s. There were rumours of it having being sold to an Arab Prince after that for a cool $31 million.

The Baroda Pearl Carpet was eventually sold for $5.5 million at an auction by Sotheby’s in Doha, Qatar. The extravagant carpet was auctioned off in 2009 to an anonymous bidder on the telephone, setting a new record for a carpet sold at an auction.

 

 

The Chalk Emerald Ring.

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(The Chalk Emerald Ring; image courtesy of Pinterest)

Experts explained that the cost of emeralds were much higher in India than in Europe. These gems were rare and came from Columbia by way of Spanish traders in the 1550s. Columbian emeralds were regarded the finest in the world and were to be found around Muzo and Chivor, Colombia.

Legend has it; the Chalk Emerald was once the centre of attraction fitted onto a diamond and emerald necklace owned by a Maharani of the former princely state of Baroda, which was ruled by the Gaekwads between the early 18th century and mid-20th century; when India got her independence.

The precious stone has a distinctive Columbian green hue and previously weighed 38.4 carats. Then it found its way into the possession of American jeweller, Harry Winston, who designed a gold ring specifically for this Columbian emerald. Mr. Winston had the stone recut to 37.82 carats and set in platinum and gold. The emerald stone is surrounded by pear shaped diamonds that are a dazzling 60 in number and weigh 15 carats in all.

This ring was then bought by Mr. Oscar Roy Chalk; a rich New York entrepreneur, as a gift for his wife Mrs. Claire Chalk after whom the ring is named the Chalk Emerald Ring.

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(New York entrepreneur Oscar Roy Chalk on the right; image courtesy of Flickr)

In 1972 the couple donated the Chalk Emerald Ring to the Smithsonian. To this day the ring is on display as a part of the National Gem and Mineral Collection at the National Museum of Natural History in America; which belongs to the Smithsonian Institution’s group of museums.

 

Princie: Maharani Sita Devi’s most precious gem.

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(The young Sayajirao a.k.a. Princie and his mother Maharani Sita Devi; image courtesy of News East West)

Maharani Sita Devi is famously known as India’s Wallis Simpson; because the decisions she made in her life were similar to that of her namesake. She met the Maharaja Pratapsinhrao Gaekwad of Baroda at the Madras Race Course; after which she converted to Islam to procure a divorce from her then husband. Sita Devi converted back to Hinduism once she procured the divorce and then married Maharaja Pratapsinhrao. She had one son with the Maharaja, his name was Sayajirao Pratapsinh Gaekwad but was fondly known as “Princie”. He was the apple of her eye and about 3 years old when she first jetted off to Paris with him. Princie was her only child with the Gaekwad and was also her constant companion to social events, especially in Europe.

Van Cleef & Arpels were the Maharani’s favourite jewellers. They purchased the famous 34.65 carat diamond from the jewel collection of the Nizams of Hyderabad in 1960; it is one of the largest pink diamonds to have ever been discovered. The jewellers threw an elaborate do to celebrate this acquisition and the maharani and her young son Princie; all of 14 years, were invited to be guests of honour. This is where the gorgeous pink beauty was christened the Princie Diamond after the young Sayajirao.

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(The pink diamond named Princie after the young Sayajirao; image courtesy of News East West )

The young prince grew to be tall and dark and handsome, he inherited his mother’s flair for flashing the priceless family jewels thus leading an extravagant life-style. Sayajirao frequented the classiest joints. His immaculate French accent and dashing good looks were so familiar that he was fondly known as “Princie” to them all.

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(Princie and the Maharani, Sita Devi; image courtesy of News East West)

The diamond was recovered from the ancient and famous Golconda mines in Andhra Pradesh (which happens to be the birthplace of the Maharani Sita Devi), South Central India. The extraordinary pink diamond set a new record high at Christie’s New York in April 2013, when it was auctioned off for $39,323,750(almost $40 Million) to an anonymous collector bidding by phone. The price is said to have set a brand new record for a gem auctioned at Christie’s.

 

Of cabochon emeralds and pavé diamonds.

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(The Lotus Necklace a.k.a. Hindu Necklace  by Van Cleef & Arpels; image courtesy of Verve Online)

The Lotus Necklace, also known as the Hindu Necklace, is a rather renowned piece of jewellery that was especially crafted for Maharani Sita Devi, second wife of Maharaja Pratapsinh Rao, the 11th Gaekwad; ruler of Baroda. This gorgeous emerald necklace was created by Jacques Arpels of the Van Cleef & Arpels French jewellery company in 1950. The jewels that constitute the necklace include Columbian cabochon emerald drops; 13 in number and they weighed around 150 carats. These emeralds are suspended from a platinum panel studded with pavé diamonds (small diamonds set closely together with barely visible tiny metal prongs holding the stones in place; the resultant effect being that of uninterrupted sparkle) and emeralds in a lotus leaf design with a lotus flower at the centre.

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(Diamond and emerald earrings by Van Cleef & Arpels; image courtesy of Pinterest)

A pair of earrings with five pendants each that are polished octagonal shaped dangling emeralds are also a part of the set. At the centre of the earring hoop which is made of diamonds and emeralds again is a single 20 carat diamond briolette (an elongated pear-shaped faceted gemstone which is often drilled to hang as a bead).

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(Maharani Sita Devi, wife of Maharaja Pratapsinh Rao; Gaekwad of Baroda; image courtesy of News East West)

The gemstones in the necklace had previously belonged to the Baroda Crown Jewels. They were in the possession of the Maharani. The Lotus Necklace and the accompanying pair of emerald and diamond earrings were later auctioned off in 2002 by Christie’s to a private collector for a sum of $1.6 million.