One of the reverberating impacts of this summer’s much-hyped Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence sale at Christie’s may well be that it exposed some jewelry collectors to the unique characteristics and allure of high Indian jewelry for the first time. As if on cue, soon after the sale ended, Moda Operandi launched special trunk shows with a handful of contemporary fine jewelry designers who offer modern interpretations of the Mughal aesthetic, including the New Delhi–based jeweler Hanut Singh.
But Singh’s personal connection to jewels of this period runs deep—in his blood, in fact. Singh is a descendant of India’s Kapurthala royal family, who regularly commissioned pieces from Cartier and Boucheron. His great-grandparents’ and grandparents’ legendary treasures are part of what inspired him to become a jewelry designer.
“I am obsessed by the Mughal period—have always been,” Singh says. “Their Indo-Persian influences in architecture have always been something I visit with my work—the scale, the precision, the beauty of the domes and arches, the pietra dura work. When the two courts met and there emerged this wonderful confluence of Islamic/Indian design…in every aspect of life and living, it was tremendous, and very, very inspiring.”
With the first day of Diwali, India’s festival of lights, happening on Thursday, the timing seemed right to showcase some of Singh’s recent work. Luminous earrings, each more intricate and colorful than the next, are utterly enchanting with their displays of vibrant gemstones; icy, gloriously faceted rock crystal; pearls; diamonds; and enamel amid faint whisperings of Art Deco glamour and the designer’s grandparents’ Café Society adventures.
Is Diwali, like the yuletide season here, a time to pile on the glitter?
“Jewels are worn at all times in India, and especially at major festivals they are amped up,” says Singh.
Not that the beauties below should be reserved strictly for special occasions, but certainly they take the idea of “festive dressing” to a whole new level of opulent chic.
Top: Groove Is in the Heart earrings with chrysoprase, Japanese blush pearls, harlequin enamel, rubies, and diamonds in 18k gold, price on request
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