Lot 303. An important diamond-set and enamelled gold parade necklace (Khanti), North India, circa 1850-75. Estimate 80,000 — 120,000 GBP. Lot sold  236,500 GBP. Photo Sotheby’s

comprised of brilliant, facet-cut diamonds set in gold with foil backing on flexible chains, the openwork design forming flowerheads, with a hanging pendant in the form of a stylised peacock, enamelled on the reverse in red, green, yellow, blue and white with foliate details on each setting, with a metal-thread string for attaching, in custom box; 60.5cm. max. height., 18cm. width.

Provenance: From a noble European collection

ExhibitedDiamonds: The World’s Most Dazzling Exhibition, Natural History Museum, London, 9 July 2005-26 February 2006

LiteratureDiamonds: The World’s Most Dazzling Exhibition, Natural History Museum, London, 2005, p.30, no.19

Note: This exquisitely crafted necklace is set with more than one hundred brightly-cut diamonds and polychrome luminous enamel decoration on the reverse. The openwork design of flowerheads, geometric in form, remains nonetheless supple as they are set along flexible chains so that the necklace fits comfortably on the chest. The hanging pendant, in the form of a peacock, adds a three-dimensional element to the design as well as holding strong symbolic connotations of auspiciousness, wealth and beauty. Epitomising the Mughal aesthetic for luxury, the overall effect of this necklace is one of splendour and magnificence. Commissioned for a wealthy patron, each diamond was cut and foil-backed so as to bring out its maximum brilliance. The enamelling on the reverse is also of the highest quality, each panel within the rosettes featuring painted floral petals and leaves with finely combed details that add a sense of palpability.

A very similar necklace, attributed to nineteenth-century  North India was published in Krishnan and Kumar 1999, pp.154-5, no.223. Another comparable necklace is in the al-Thani collection (published in: Beyond Extravagance: A royal Collection of gems and jewels. ed. Amin Jaffer, pp.270-71, no.87). The present piece, which featured in the exhibition Diamonds: The world’s most dazzling exhibition, at the Natural History Museum in London between 2005 and 2006 as an example of the use of diamonds on Indian jewellery, represents an exceptional piece of museum-quality importance.

Sotheby’s. Art of Imperial India, Londres, 08 oct. 2014