The inspiration behind Boucheron’s latest high jewelry collection reads like the opening of a fantasy film. In August 1928, Place Vendôme was buzzing with excitement at the arrival of Bhupindar Sing, the Maharajah of Patiala. The striking 6ft 7in prince was known for his unbridled taste for jewelery and traveled to Paris with forty Sikh servants and guards carrying several iron safes. The French didn’t know which jeweler the Maharajah would go to until he pushed through the door of a boutique and was greeted by Louis Boucheron. Within minutes, Louis was stunned to discover the prince’s treasure. In the safes were 7500 diamonds, 1500 emeralds and countless rubies and pearls. The Maharajah wanted them all to be set in exquisite jewelry.
Louis Boucheron would end up making 149 pieces for the Maharajah, including emerald and diamond necklaces, multi-row pearl necklaces and belts covered with precious stones. The three largest pieces together weighed around 150 carats. Since the Maharajah’s death in 1938, only one necklace has been seen in a painting of his son. The location and ownership of the other 148 remains a mystery. During this time, the history of the collection reached mythical proportions to be the largest special order in Boucheron’s history.
Entitled The New Maharajahs, the house’s new collection is a tribute to the momentous occasion of Sing’s arrival. “This commission from the Maharajah of Patiala was like a fairy tale, it’s the stuff of dreams,” the house’s artistic director, Claire Choisne, said in a statement. “In our archives, we have kept the 149 original drawings from which I drew inspiration. I wanted to bring these designs into the 21st century and reinvent them for today’s Maharanis and Maharajahs.
For their latest release, Choisne and his design studio highlight not only the Maharajahs collection, but also elements that symbolize ancestral India, such as lotus flowers and wedding bracelets. Choisne made the decision to use white and transparency in many pieces, to convey purity and modernity. The collection, which consists of necklaces, bracelets, brooches, necklaces and earrings, is genderless. One of the most majestic pieces is the New Maharani necklace, a monochromatic choker that looks like diamond lace. The Maharajah necklace is equally stunning, with nine Colombian emeralds, totaling 40 carats, as its centerpiece. My favorite piece is the New Padma Nacre earring, a modern version of the lotus flower. Like a miniature necklace, it rests on the wearer’s ear and looks both delicate and striking.
For more information about this magnificent collection and its interesting history, you can visit Boucheron.com.