Unveiled last month during Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week, Boucheron’s new high jewelry collection, Histoire de Style: New Maharajahs, is strong on rock crystal, emeralds, pearls, mother-of pearl, and diamonds. But it’s the premise—the revisiting of a historic, cross-cultural moment for Boucheron and one Bhupinder Singh, the maharaja of Patiala, almost 100 years ago—that makes the jewels shimmer in a uniquely evocative light.
In 1928, Singh and his entourage visited the Boucheron atelier on Paris’ Place Vendôme with a battery of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls for Louis, son of Frédéric Boucheron, to use in what would end up being an epic bespoke commission by any standards: 149 jewels in all, with piles of supersize parures dominating the sumptuous lineup, many of them cascading and undulating with giant emerald cabochons or reams of glistening pearls.
“This commission by the maharaja of Patiala seemed like a fairy tale, it is the stuff of dreams,” said Boucheron creative director Claire Choisne in a statement. “In our archives, we have kept the 149 original designs from which I got my inspiration for this collection. I wanted to transpose these designs into the 21st century, and to reinvent them for today’s maharanis and maharajas.”
The undeniable star of the show is an emerald, diamond, and rock crystal parure that directly references one of the most important jewels in the maharaja’s original commission: In the 2.0 version, as imagined by Choisne, 40 carats of Columbian emeralds decorate the centerpiece, which can detach and be worn as a brooch. On its own, the necklace becomes a resplendent collar, lined with diamonds and baguette-cut emeralds. There are also a pair of coordinating earrings that mimic the 1928 necklace’s configuration in a spiraling hoop shape with diamond-set platinum rods dotted and tipped with teardrop-shape emerald cabochons.
That Singh, an imposing figure at 6 feet, 7 inches, was well-known at the time for having extravagant jewelry tastes—and was rarely seen without ropes upon ropes of necklaces and opulent sarpechs—seems also to be a touchstone for the collection, which is brought to life by campaign imagery that includes a male model sporting some of the jewels as brooches.
The Mughal era has been a hot topic in the jewelry world of late—and even the subject of a scandal—but Boucheron’s latest foray feels like a genuine valentine to its past—as well as India’s role in its narrative arc. The drapey, multitiered New Maharani Cristal necklace (the second jewel in the trio pictured at top), for example, was inspired by traditional Indian long necklaces and features rock crystal elements such as melon-cut beads faceted in the Indian tradition.
There are also 10 bracelets inspired by traditional churiyans—bracelets worn by Indian women when they get married that are revered as tokens of protection (and found in abundance for a song, FYI, in Jackson Heights, Queens). Boucheron has revisited these traditional ornaments in white gold set with diamonds, mother-of-pearl, and pearls.
A few more lovely, luminous creations from the collection below.
Top: From top: New Maharani necklace in white gold with a 4.08 ct. cushion-cut diamond, pavé diamonds, and rock crystal (the collar element detaches so that the top can be worn a choker); New Maharani Cristal necklace in white gold with 7.34 cts. t.w. cushion-cut diamonds, pavé diamonds, and rock crystal; and New Maharani Nacre necklace in white gold with cultured pearls, mother-of-pearl, rock crystal, and pavé diamonds (the centerpiece detaches and can be worn as a brooch).
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