The Indian royalty, just like its culture, was varied and colorful. But one thing that all its members shared was their fascination with opulent jewelry. Be it Maharajas in the north and the west, or the Nizams in the south, all of them owned jewelry collections that would make you want to keep admiring them. Some of the necklaces belonging to collections have become iconic pieces, representing their respective royal owners.
Iconic Vintage Necklaces Owned by Indian Royalty
The Emerald Necklace of the Maharaja of Nawanagar
Image courtesy: Studio Dharma
This exquisite necklace, which Cartier made in 1926 with emeralds and diamonds, belonged to the erstwhile Maharaja of Nawanagar (present-day Jamnagar in Gujarat). 17 emeralds, totaling 277 carats and having a rectangle form, were used to create the necklace. The emerald in the pendant of this vintage necklace weighed 70 carats and is thought to have once belonged to a Sultan of Turkey.
‘Star of the South’ Diamond Necklace of Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda
Image courtesy: Pinterest
The Star of the South diamond is one of the world's most renowned diamonds. Discovered in 1853, it became the first Brazilian diamond to get international recognition. It was sold to Maharaja Khanderao Gaekwad of Baroda, who then commissioned a necklace to be made featuring this diamond. A three-tier diamond necklace comprising this gargantuan 128-carat diamond was made, which also featured another famous diamond, the 78.5-carat English Dresden diamond. Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda was often seen wearing this vintage necklace, which was counted among the most iconic royal jewels of the world.
Baroda Pearl Necklace
In 1860, Maharaja Khande Rao Gaekwad of Baroda commissioned this 7-stranded exceptionally magnificent necklace made of natural pearls. The original Baroda Pearl Necklace was composed of seven strands of pearls that were identical in size, shape, color, luster, and surface quality. The total number of pearls in the necklace is estimated to be 330. The image below depicts Maharaja Pratap Singh Gaekwad, grandson of Khande Rao, and his wife, Maharani Sita Devi, with the former wearing the vintage pearl necklace.
Image courtesy: Pinterest
After an audit of the Baroda jewels following Indian independence in 1947, the Government of India issued an ultimatum to the Maharaja to submit the crown jewels to the Baroda treasury or be removed from his position and lose all princely privileges granted by the Government. The Maharaja did return the pearl necklace, along with a couple of other jewels. It was later reduced to five strands from the original seven strands and reintroduced into the Baroda crown jewels and is now said to be kept in the Lakshmi Vilas Palace, the official residence of the Baroda royal family.
Kundan Haar of Maharaja Prabhu Narayan Singh of Benares
Image courtesy: GQ
Like his contemporaries on this list, Maharaja Prabhu Narayan Singh of Benares was known to own several iconic jewels. He was known to take his royal jewels out for an occasional airing, and among his many lavish belongings was a vintage diamond necklace crafted using prominent Kundan-pressed diamonds.
Patiala necklace of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala
Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala wearing the Patiala Necklace
Image courtesy: Wikipedia
This magnificent royal necklace was commissioned by Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala to Cartier. The centerpiece was a rare 234.65-carat yellow De Beers diamond, the world's seventh-largest polished diamond. The Maharaja gave Cartier 4000 precious stones to design a necklace for him, including 2,930 diamonds, Burmese rubies, and the De Beers diamond. It took the house three years of craftsmanship to create this vintage diamond necklace.
The Patiala Ruby Choker Necklace of Maharani Yagoda Devi
Maharani Yagoda Devi wearing the Patiala ruby choker
Image courtesy: The Adventurine
Maharaja Bhupinder Singh became a frequent customer of Cartier as a result of the Patiala necklace. He went back to the mansion to order a necklace for Maharani Yagoda Devi, one of his wives. A beautiful assortment of pearls, diamonds, and rubies was placed in rows of platinum to form this gorgeous vintage choker necklace. Despite the fact that this choker was also lost with the end of the Maharajas' rule, a piece of it was found at a European auction house and transformed into a bracelet. It was replicated by Cartier's artisans once it was found.
Maharaja of Indore Necklace of Tukoji Rao III, Maharaja of Indore
The Maharaja of Indore Necklace on display at the Smithsonian Institution
Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
The Maharaja of Indore Necklace is a diamond and emerald-encrusted vintage necklace that was originally owned by Tukoji Rao III, Maharaja of Indore, in the early twentieth century. The emeralds used to make the necklace were mined in Colombia. The diamonds were mined in India. While the necklace's gemstones are thought to have been cut in India in the 17th century, the necklace's origins are unknown. His vintage necklace was passed down to his son, Yashvantrao II, who ascended to his father's throne upon his abdication.
Indore Pears Necklaces of Tukoji Rao III, Maharaja of Indore
Tukoji Rao Holkar III, Maharaja of Indore, visited their Paris Salon on October 1st, 1913, according to Chaumet's records. He was shown two splendid pear-shaped diamonds weighing 46.70 and 46.95 carats as well as a contemporary drawing of a lavalier necklace. The Maharaja was enthralled by the diamonds' inherent beauty, impressive size, and high quality, so he came back the next day to buy the magnificent diamond necklace, which was delivered to him two weeks later.
Oil-on-canvas painting by Bernard Boputet de Monvel, circa 1933-34, depicting Yashwant Rao Holkar II wearing the Chaumet necklace with traditional dress
Image courtesy: Phillips
The necklace was passed on to his only son, Yashwant Rao Holkar II, who, after becoming the next Maharaja of Indore commissioned Mauboussin, a renowned Parisian jewelry house, to make a ceremonial necklace using the diamonds from the Chaumet necklace, which have gained the moniker Indore Pears.
Mauboussin sketches for a ceremonial necklace commissioned by the Maharaja of Indore with supplied pear-shaped diamonds, 1938
Image courtesy: Phillips