Too soon to tell—bidding starts tomorrow, June 19, at 10 a.m., at Christie’s New York. But here’s what we do know: The Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence sale is projected to break the current record for the auction house’s most valuable jewelry sale to date (the December 2011 sale of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels, which totaled $115.9 million, is the one to beat).
We also know that the auction is being talked about as a landmark event. Consisting of nearly 400 lots spanning more than 500 years, it traces the history of jewelry from the early Mughal period in India through the Maharajas and their collaboration with the world’s most renowned jewelry houses to create some of the most exceptional pieces of jewelry ever made. Included are extraordinary creations by Cartier (the outstanding Art Deco Patiala ruby choker is just one example), Bulgari, Mauboussin, and JAR.
In a nutshell? Heaps of important emeralds, a glittering group of Golconda diamonds, and marvelous finished pieces, including turban ornaments, elaborate gem-set headdresses, and strands upon strands of natural pearls.
In a formal statement, Guillaume Cerutti, chief executive officer of Christie’s, called the collection “the most significant collection of its type ever to come to auction,” adding that “the sale…will therefore present a truly significant cultural moment and offers a milestone opportunity for collectors.”
But the scale of the jewels, and the gravitas (and in some cases, the unimaginable opulence), is best appreciated when you can picture wearing them in a modern context. This was most certainly Christie’s motivation to have portrait photographer and creative director Claiborne Swanson Frank capture some of fashion’s most influential women in a series of images, in which all sit modeling select auction pieces to dramatic effect.
Highlights from this special collaboration are featured below.
Top: Highlights from tomorrow’s Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence sale of jewelry and precious objects at Christie’s New York, from left: Teresa Lourenco-Antebi, model, yogi, and wife of Juice Press founder, wears an antique diamond and spinel sarpech and an antique diamond and emerald necklace (all portraits by Claiborne Swanson Frank). Elephant brooch in diamonds, cacholong, sapphires, and titanium; JAR. Carved emerald brooch with two interchangeable emerald and diamond mountings in 18k white gold; Cartier.
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