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Samina Inc

North India
Late 18th - early 19th century
Length of central pendant including pearl surmount and ruby drop: approx 8cm
Width: 4cm (at the widest point)
Length of each bud form pendant including pearl surmount and ruby drop:
approx 5.5cm
Width: 2cm (at the widest point)

A champakali necklace, gold kundan set with diamonds and strung with natural pearls, simulating the buds of the michelia champaca flower. Each bud form set with a pear-shaped old-cut Golconda diamond with a diamond surround and surmounted with a diamond in bud shape and Basra pearls. Ruby drops are suspended from each of these pendants. A central foliate pendant with a large flat-cut diamond is within a surround of smaller diamonds, with an outer larger surround of flat-cut diamonds. This pendant has three ruby drops suspended below, one of which is carved with a floral design. The reverse of the central pendant and each bud is exquisitely enamelled in red and green on a background of white and gold, with hints of a very unusual apple green in a design of flowers and foliage. This necklace was evidently made for a man as is borne out by the sheer size and weight of the ornament. A 19th century photo portrait of the Maharaja of Dhar shows him wearing an identical necklace. The large old-cut diamonds in the necklace originate from the famous Golconda mines and have a beautiful luminosity associated with diamonds from this area. The Basra pearls are of the finest quality and are capped with enamelled gold. The champakali necklace is one of the oldest designs for neck ornaments in India. The flower with its delicate white buds and heady scent epitomises purity and grace. Among the royals the champakali necklace was a symbol of status and lineage, providing an opportunity to showcase large gems from their treasury.

all text, images � Samina Inc


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