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Indian jewels : masterpieces of moghol treasures

Krishna with a spinel necklace, pearls and diamonds aigretteMoghol jewels : Golconda diamonds and emeraldsIndian jewels designed in great Moghols times put guests of Krishna and Vrinda recent wedding ceremony in Jaipur under the spell. As they always did.

It is now time for us to focus on this splendour period of Indian history and its Great Moghols. Sir Thomas Roe was the first british ambassador (1615-1619) at the great Moghol court. Writing to Prince Charles, the king to come Charles the first, dated 30th of October 1616, he mentionned Emperor Jahangir in this terms: « In jewels (one of its happyness), he is the world’s treasure, buying beyond measure everything he could find, amassing gorgeous stones like he would rather accumulate than wear it.

Engraved moghol emerald pendant From those remote times, at a moment where indian jewelers reached their pinnacle, very fine and sumptuous jewels were crafted and are now displayed. Kept in reigning families for centuries, they serve for some ceremonies like weddings... lasting a few days, these marvels display a growing splendor while rituals progress. Yet men have not been left out, and often wear more stunning adornments then their mates.The close set folded down (called kundan set) mounting the stones, very typical of the moghol style, displays beautiful effects.
 
 
 

Kundan setting  typical from moghol workdan caractéristique du travail mogholMoghol sword scabbard  Artists use pure gold and totally cover the surface of jewels with the most prized stones of that time. It was the most precious stones that Earth had to offer : emeralds from Colombia (mainly from Muzo mine) whose green was recalling the All Mighty for muslims, deep red rubis from Mogok mines in Myanmar, intense blue saphires from Sri Lanka, not far from South India. Diamonds were only produced in Borneo and India until the beginning of the XVIIIth century and Golconda mines, today depleted, produced significant quantities of high grade diamonds still famous today.

Orloff diamondEngraved pink moghol spinel The Ko-I-Noor, the Regent, the Hope, the Great Moghol, the Orloff, and a lot more were extracted and are today the pride of great world treasures.

Not to forget the spinel, recently fashionable in the jewelry industry. Highly prized and used by the great Moghols, that inherited the tradition of engraving from their ancestors, the Timurids, and engraved royal inscriptions on Badakhshan spinels. Oldest examples were from the XIIIth century.

Shah diamondDuring the XVIIIth century, other precious stones allowed the tradition to be perpetuated ; some diamonds bear inscriptions like the diamond « Shah ». Discovered in the indian mines, this geometrically shaped diamond hold the names of several Moghol monarchs engraved on its faces, including the one of Shah Jahan (1627-1658). He is now part of the Tsars treasures in the Kremlin.

Moghol emeralds and rubiesIn the XVIIth century, true to the ilustrious heritage of the indian continent, necklace pearls were cut from high grade emeralds, as well as large precious stones and small layers made from unique gem crystals. Traditionally, jewels of that period but also today are enameled on both sides. This technique, very much in use since the XVIth century, was introduced at that time by european jewelers.
 
 

In view of those facts, the expertise, master and inventiveness displayed by indian artists working with enamel are all the more remarkable.