Diamonds and the Royals.

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(Left: Maharaja Khanderao. Right: Maharaja Malhar Rao; images courtesy of Wikipedia)

What was once a ceremonial collar necklace, with the passage of time and change of ownership, turned into anklets and eventually ended up coming full circle as a choker necklace. The ceremonial necklace was initially intended for use by the Maharajas of Baroda. Maharaja Khanderao (the 8th Gaekwad of Baroda) and Maharaja Malhar Rao (the 9th Gaekwad of Baroda) have both been pictured wearing the ceremonial necklace. The Baroda Diamond Necklace was a collar necklace that was studded with rose-cut diamonds and cabochon (stones that are cut with highly polished, rounded or convex tops with no faceting and flat or slightly domed bases) emeralds.

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(Maharani Sita Devi, India’s Wallis Simpson; image courtesy of Pinterest)

Rumour has it; this ceremonial necklace was taken apart in the 1940s to restructure new pieces of jewellery for Maharani Sita Devi, the second wife of Maharaja Pratapsinh Gaekwad. The Maharani was known as India’s Wallis Simpson because she too, left her husband for the Maharaja. Wallis Simpson was an American socialite (also a two time divorcée) that fell in mutual love with King Edward VIII, who abdicated his throne to marry her.  Apparently the new Maharani had anklets made out of those gems (from the Baroda Diamond Necklace).

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(The diamond and emerald choker for the Duchess of Windsor restructured from Sita Devi’s anklets by Harry Winston; image courtesy of History of Vadodara)

When the 50s rolled in, the Maharani sold the aforementioned pair of emerald and diamond anklets to Harry Winston; a jeweller from New York. Mr. Winston had the gems fitted into a necklace featuring 52 pear-shaped cabochon emeralds weighing 670 carats. This necklace made from reconstituted diamonds and emeralds found their way into the possession of Wallis Simpson, the then Duchess of Windsor. The Duchess wore the said jewellery to a Paris ball, where Sita Devi was also a guest. It is said that the Maharani casually remarked on the beauty of the necklace, while snidely adding something to the effect of, ‘those emeralds used to be my anklets’. The Duchess of Windsor was said to have taken offence at the remark; she returned the diamond choker to her jeweller.

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(Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor; image courtesy of Marie Claire)

That was the last that was known of the Baroda Diamond Necklace; rather, the restructured jewels.

 

The Rising of the Moon of Baroda.

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( The Moon of Baroda, image courtesy of Pinterest)

The Moon of Baroda is a diamond that has been in the possession of the Gaekwads; the royal family of Baroda, which is where this gem was discovered, for about 500 years,. The diamond, when found in the rough was 25.95 carats. A canary yellow shade in colour, it was later cut into a 24.04 carats diamond in the shape of a pear.

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(Portrait of Empress Maria Theresa by Martin van Meytens; image courtesy of Dea/ A. Dagli Orti, Getty Images)

The diamond travelled quite a bit and passed through the hands of some rather renowned individuals. It was sent to the Empress Maria Theresa (who was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions/Austrian part of the Holy Royal Empire) by the Gaekwads. However there isn’t any photographic evidence or any visual proof in her portraits, of her ever having worn the necklace. However there are speculations that the necklace may have been worn by one of her youngest daughters, Marie-Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI.

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(Portrait of Marie-Antoinette by Vigee Le Brun, image courtesy of Biography.com)

Marie-Antoinette was guillotined in 1793; incidentally the myth associated with the necklace is that it brings bad luck to its wearer if it is taken overseas.

Upon its return to Baroda, the Maharaja had the diamond set into a necklace sometime in 1860. The 1920s saw the diamond necklace sold off by the Maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekwad to an unknown buyer. Meyer Rosenbaum of Detroit (who was President of the Meyer Jewelry Company) then purchased the diamond in 1943.

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(Marilyn Monroe in a still from the song Diamond’s are a Girl’s Best Friend; image courtesy of Pinterest)

Come 1953, Marilyn Monroe takes over the silver screen with her performance in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, where she sings the now famous song “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” While promoting the film, Marilyn sported the Moon of Baroda during a shoot which only helped propel the beautiful stone to heightened fame.

(Marilyn Monroe wearing the Moon of Baroda during the promotional shoot for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; images courtesy of Pinterest)

The Moon of Baroda was publicly exhibited in 1944. After which it was out of sight until 2008, when it was put on display at the Diamond Divas exhibition organised by Antwerp World Diamond Centre. In 2012, a Japanese television show claimed they had the Moon of Baroda, where it was authenticated by an expert as the diamond in question and was then appraised for $1.9 million.

It was later sold to a private collector by Christie’s and hasn’t resurfaced in the public eye since.

Ropes and ropes of pearls!

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(Maharani Sita Devi is seen adjusting the clasp of the Baroda Pearl necklace, worn by Maharaja Pratapsinh Rao; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

The Baroda Pearl Necklace is a renowned piece of jewellery from those counted among the Gaekwad’s Jewels. It was commissioned by the Maharaja Khande Rao Gaekwad (the 10th ruler of Baroda)

The pearls made their way to the jeweller from the Gulf region (Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Munnar and the Red Sea). Those underwater beauties were white in colour, some were spherical in shape and some were almost-spherical and were close to perfection in terms of appearance, i.e.; blemishes weren’t visible to the naked eye. There were approximately 300-350 pearls in number, of matching quality, colour, size and shape strung together on seven separate strands; forming an extraordinary lustrous necklace of a rich calibre.

There was a book published in 1908 by a gentleman called George Frederick Kunz, called the Book of the Pearl. There was a photograph of Maharaja Sayaji Rao III (the 12th ruler of Baroda) wearing the seven strand pearl necklace in the book; that is how the piece came to be internationally renowned as the Baroda Pearl Necklace. Another photograph starring Maharaja Pratapsinh Rao (the 13th ruler of Baroda) wearing the pearls, taken by Henri Cartier Bresson brought the necklace, once more, into the spotlight internationally.

Apparently a lot of the royal jewels were moved to Monaco, shortly before India received her independence, where Maharaja Pratapsinh Rao had a place of residence. Upon order by the Indian Government, the Maharaja had to return the jewels to Indian shores. On arrival, however, the seven strand necklace was reduced to six strands of pearls. Among other crown jewels, this necklace was then kept at Lakshmi Vilas Palace, the Baroda residence of the Gaekwads.

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(The restructured two-stranded Baroda Pearl Necklace; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

In 2007, at an auction by Christie’s in New York, a two stranded pearl necklace was presented which was believed to have been fashioned out of the seventh strand that was missing from the Baroda Pearl Necklace, the clasp is a cushion-cut diamond by Cartier.  This particular piece of jewellery was auctioned off for a price (highest ever where pearls were considered) of $7.1 million, setting a world record.

The restructured two-stranded Baroda Pearl Necklace appeared to have the finest of the pearls from the original necklace set in a perfect design which made it one of the most consummate pearl necklaces in the world.

 

Star of the South.

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The story of The Star of the South begins in the mines of Estrela du sol (a municipality in Brazil which is also a name by which the stone is known) where it was discovered by a woman who was a slave to the miner.

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(Star of the South; image courtesy of Pinterest)

This find was rewarded with freedom and an income that was apparently enough to last her a lifetime. This diamond in the rough (uncut) passed through a few hands that didn’t quite recognize it for its actual worth; until it was in the possession of Costers of Amsterdam and was cut to a 128.48-carat stone in the shape of a cushion; which also means that it lost more than half of its original weight. The stone was graded as VS-2 in clarity and is also famous for its faint pinkish-brown hue.

The diamond then made its way into the hands of Halphen & Associates where it was actually christened Star of the South. They displayed it in London and Paris over a period of years which led to its increased fame.

Eventually the Diamond was bought by Malhar Rao Gaekwad; the then ruler of Baroda, for a price that was around £80,000.

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(Maharani Sita Devi in the diamond necklace that had the English Dresden and the Star of the South; image courtesy of Pinterest)

Malhar Rao Gaekwad acquired another famed diamond called the English Dresden Diamond. He had both; the English Dresden and its sister stone – The Star of the South, set in a breath-taking beautiful diamond necklace. Maharani Sita Devi Sahib is seen wearing the gorgeous diamond necklace in a photograph taken on her husband’s birthday in 1948.

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(The Diamond Necklace; image courtesy of Pinterest)

The necklace was purchased by Cartier (a French luxury goods conglomerate company) from Rustomjee Jamsetjee (Baronet) of Mumbai in 2002; which is when it was last seen on Indian shores.

 

Panchaloha: The molten power of five.

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(Image courtesy of South Indian Handicrafts.)

Panchaloha, (also known as Panchdhatu) is Sanskrit for a term in metallurgy (the scientific discipline concerning metals). Panchloha refers to traditional alloys made of five metals considered precious as per the Shilpa Shastra. Certain Vedas (Holy Scripture in the Hindu religion) talk about the arts; even old Sanskrit texts like the Shilparatna (in particular) contain detailed descriptions about the methods and guiding rules behind the making of religious idols.

These five metals are gold, silver, copper, zinc and tin. The ancient text has specifics jotted down, for instance; the equipment to be used in the processes, proportions, stance (of the deities) and their expressions. These were to be strictly adhered to when creating the temple idols.

It is also believed (probably as a result of it being in the scriptures) that jewellery made of this special mix called panchdhatu could have a positive effect on the wearer. It was said to bring to the one who had possession of it, all things good; fortune, peace (of mind), poise, success and stability. You could say that the belief is in the mind of the beholder.

 

Cop to it; Copper is the way to go.

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(Images courtesy of Pinterest)

It turns out that Copper is a vital mineral necessary (in relatively small amounts) for survival. The liver, brain, heart, kidneys and skeletal muscle house most of the copper in the human body. It is required for the formation of collagen (a fibrous protein in bone and cartilage) it also helps with the production of energy.

You’ll know you have a possible copper deficiency if there’s a noticeable depigmentation (loss of colour) of skin and hair. Deficiency can also affect growth and neurological function; it can heighten the risk of acquiring infections and cause a loss of bone tissue which in turn makes bones susceptible to breaking. The aforementioned collagen provides support to the bones and produces or replaces connective tissue; the absence of both can lead to joint dysfunction among many other problems.

Everything should be in moderation. So it is needless to say that an excess of the same can also lead to a host of problems.

This should substantiate the significance of copper as a part of the human anatomy.

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(Images courtesy of Pinterest)

Tiny amounts of copper can be absorbed through the skin and while copper jewellery generally doesn’t cause any side effect (those with skin allergies aren’t in question here) apart from a bluish-green discoloration of the skin (it is the deposit that comes off of the metal and can be washed off easily). In the olden days, copper compounds were used in medicine. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans; made use of the metal in various methods to quicken the healing of wounds, to treat skin, inflammatory and neurological disorders.

Copper bracelets were also considered medicinal in nature to relieve muscular and joint pain. The only objection to it being that the skin is not the normal means for the absorption of nutrition; this was more acceptable in ancient traditions concerning medicinal treatment. However, research shows that minerals from the metal do get absorbed in certain quantities through the skin that otherwise may not be as effective via the gastrointestinal route.

Now, if a person has a copper deficiency, the best (and obvious) recourse is to consult a physician.

Having said that, precautions can be taken by eating the right kind of food which include almonds, chocolate, shellfish, meat and mushrooms. Copper is also added to strengthen food; supplements for copper are also available for consumption. So there a number of recourses that can be taken up to maintain the balance that copper constitutes in the human body.

 

Wear Your Jewel – Look #4

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Nothing quite like some gorgeous emerald stones surrounded by rose cut diamonds with a drop each of south sea pearls to turn the others green with envy, as you sashay into the room in this elegant green piece.Image003

Clothing : Perniaspopupshop.com

Jewellery : Narayan Jewellers

Silver Linings.

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No, this isn’t about silver bullets, nor is it about thirty pieces of silver.

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(Image of earrings courtesy of Jewel Sutra by Narayan Jewellers)

This is about one of seven metals of antiquity. Antiquity; meaning, seven metals that go as far back as the pre-historic era, where usefulness to mankind is concerned. These are gold, silver, iron, copper, lead, mercury and tin.  Of these, silver is among the metals that are considered native (though it occurs as an alloy as well), which means they occur in their natural form as pure metals and in relatively large amounts as compared to others and deteriorating silver forms a blackish film called tarnish which is most common. Silver, in antiquity has been used for aesthetic purposes and for monetary purposes more than anything else.

With time, it has proved much more useful. Silver is used as jewellery, for monetary exchange, it is used as silverware, its compounds in traditional photographic processes, as a conductor in the electric industry, in X-Rays and in other forms of medicine. Silver may denote second-best in most cases when compared to gold but in some instances, it is second to none. For instance; medicine. It is used in the treatment of external wounds and dressings thereof, in dentistry and orthopaedics (silver and its alloys are sometimes used as a replacement for bone in cranial surgeries) and as an antimicrobic in various applications.

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(Collage images courtesy of geology.com and Pinterest)

Silver, when worn, as adornments no less, has been said to help control energy levels to an extent because of its natural attributes (positively-charged silver ions help reflect electromagnetic radiation away from the body) that improve circulation and body temperature; which in turn improve the functioning of the immune system.

Indian customs where silver jewellery is concerned seem to have a science behind why certain pieces are used as adornments. Silver is considered as a metal that reacts well with the earth’s energies, which is why anklets and toe rings made of silver are worn. Indians believe that in order for you to stay healthy, your prana or life force (this runs right down to your toes) must be well balanced and this can be taken care of with toe rings made of silver which is considered a good conductor, it is believed to absorb energy from the earth and pass it to the body in turn.