30 March 2016

Index: Jewels with Indian Connections

Earlier this year I contributed some thoughts for a piece at the Duchess Kate blog on jewels from the Windsor collection with connections to India. I've also received quite a few requests to do another feature on such jewels (my own spin, if you will), so by popular demand, here we are.

Controversy abounds when discussing the topic of British jewels with ties to India. Consider the case of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond: the famous stone currently rests in Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother's Crown in the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, but the tactics used to get it into British ownership during Queen Victoria's reign have left it open to ownership claims ever since, usually from India. A lawsuit for the return of the stone was filed in Pakistan at the end of 2015. That said, there are also later jewels and jewels with Indian design inspiration that may not have the same controversial history.

Queen Mary wearing the Cambridge Emerald and Delhi Durbar Parure

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will undertake their first tour of India and Bhutan from April 10-16. Many have hoped to see some jewels with ties to India loaned to Kate for the tour. Personally, I have my doubts on that front; potential diplomatic issues aside, the Cambridges have kept their tours fairly casual in the past. (There is one reception and dinner Kensington Palace described as a "glittering" event, so I guess we'll be finding out what their definition of "glittering" is pretty soon.)

This index will not focus specifically on potential loans to Kate but on a more broad range of items from The Queen's jewel vault, many of which aren't loaned to family members.

A note: In compiling this index, I have focused on jewels that we have covered here and jewels that have been worn for regular engagements by The Queen. Some are directly or speculatively tied to India by gifts or known stone provenances, and some have designs inspired by the country. I have not included items in the Crown Jewels or unworn items in the Royal Collection that may be considered more like museum pieces. This list is not comprehensive. Click the name of the jewel for more information.


A mix of pieces from India and pieces created by Queen Mary for the Delhi Durbar, the celebration in India marking the start of George V's reign, these jewels might have the best known connection to India in The Queen's personal collection. The Delhi Carved Emerald Brooch and the stones used in the Art Deco Emerald Choker were gifts from the Ladies of India to Queen Mary.


The Coronation Necklace and Earrings
The pendant on this famous necklace is the Lahore Diamond. Bearing the name of a location in Pakistan today, a 22.48 carat stone originally suspended from the Timur Ruby Necklace (another gem with an Indian connection, in the Royal Collection but unworn, so not listed here). The earring pendants were formerly part of the settings for both the Timur Ruby Necklace and the Koh-i-Noor.

Prince Albert may have drawn inspiration for the design of Queen Victoria's Oriental Circlet tiara from some of the Indian jewels she received. The rubies that eventually replaced the original opals in the set could also have an Indian connection from Queen Victoria's time.


Queen Mary's Indian Bangle Bracelets
 Queen Mary received these bracelets as a gift from the Bombay Presidency for her wedding in 1893, later giving them as a wedding gift to The Queen in 1947.

These were gifts from the Nizam of Hyderabad to The Queen for her wedding, but were selected from Cartier. The tiara is of course no longer with us, though the three rose brooches survive. The necklace was last seen on The Duchess of Cambridge.


The Emerald and Diamond Sarpech Brooch
This brooch, debuted in 2013, is in the style of a sarpech, "a turban ornament that was worn by significant Hindu and Muslim princes". Whether it has any actual ties to India beyond design inspiration, we don't know.


This is a modern design and a personal gift from The Duke of Edinburgh, but the recycled carved rubies in this brooch are said to have come from an Indian headdress.
According the The Queen's Jewels by Leslie Field, the pearls in one of The Queen's double strand necklace previously belonged to Ranjit Singh, ruler of the Punjab, and were received by Queen Victoria as a gift from the East India Company after Britain annexed the Punjab in 1849.


The Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace
In The Royal Jewels, Suzy Menkes refers to this piece as an Indian design and mentions that The Queen wore it during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1983 in New Delhi. She speculated that is could have been of Indian workmanship, and while we now know that it is a Boucheron creation from the Greville bequest, the design influence could still be there.

Menkes also mentions two additional wedding gifts to The Queen. One was an antique Rajput headdress of gold set with pearls, rubies, and diamonds mounted as a brooch from the Maharajah of Bundi; the other was two pairs of jeweled anklets set with brilliants and enamel drops mounted as a necklace from the Dominion of India.


As I said, this is certainly not comprehensive. If you can think of any others, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Photos: Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Christie's