500 years of Indian treasures poised to break auction records

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CNN — A collection of nearly 400 jewels, objects and gemstones from India is expected to fetch more than $115.9 million when it goes on sale this week — a figure which would make it the most valuable jewelry auction in history.

The Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence collection, which will go under the hammer at Christie’s auction house in New York on June 19, features ceremonial objects, artworks and ornaments used by Indian royalty and high society over 500 years.

The auction house says the collection is “poised to be the most valuable auction of jewelry and jeweled objects,” and is expected to beat the $115.9 million auction record set by their sale of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection in 2011.

According to Christie’s, the cache of jewels, currently owned by Qatari royalty, is “the most valuable and precious collection of jewelry and Mughal objects to ever come to auction.”

It includes the Mirror of Paradise 52.58-carat diamond ring valued at up to $10 million, which dates back to the early part of the Mughal dynasty.

“This is living history in your hand,” said Rahul Kadakia, international head of jewelry at Christie’s, in a press release.

Another highlight is a diamond-laden white gold jigha, a turban ornament that Christie’s says would have been worn by a maharaja on formal occasions. The item, which is set with pear and baguette shaped diamonds, has a detachable plume holder, and is estimated to sell for between $1.2 million and $2.2 million.

An exquisite dagger crafted from jade and inlaid with gold, created for Shah Jahan, the emperor who built the Taj Mahal is also expected to fetch a high price.

As well as gems and artifacts that date back to early Mughal India, the collection contains more modern pieces made in collaboration with European luxury jewelers, including Bulgari and Cartier.

The items are taken from the Al Thani Collection, established by Qatari royal Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani, the former emir of the Gulf state. From next year, other works of art from this encyclopedic collection will be shown at a new museum space in Paris.

Top image: A diamond-and-enamel aigrette from the Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence collection.

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