Jewelry of the Maharajahs were symbols of
status and power
The Maharajah Jamsahib of Nawanagar, Shri Kumar Ranjithsinhji Vibhaji
Jadega (1872-1933) was a connoisseur and collector of gems and jewelry and
had a fabulous collection of jewelry, some inherited from his ancestors and
others designed and executed during his life time by Jacques
Cartier, with whom he established a close working relationship, and
became his close friend. Jacques Cartier was one of the three sons of Alfred
Cartier, and was in charge of the London operations of the renowned jewelry
firm, towards the end of the 19th century, eventually moving to its current
address at New Bond Street. One of the sons Louis Cartier managed the Paris
headquarters of the firm, moving to Rue de la Paix in 1899 and another son
Pierre Cartier established the New York City branch in 1909.
As it was the tradition during the days of the Indian Maharajahs it was the
men who wore the most fabulous pieces of jewelry as they were considered to
be symbols of status and power, believed to elevate the status of the
monarch in the eyes of his subjects, and instill fear and respect for him.
Thus on all ceremonial occasions as well as during his appearances at his
court, the Maharajah wearing his ceremonial robes was bedecked with fabulous
jewelry, consisting of several diamond, pearl, emerald or ruby necklaces
around his neck, and also wearing brooches, bracelets, huge turban ornaments
such as aigrettes and sarpechs, with a jewel encrusted sword by his side.
The courts of the Persian and Mogul empires took such extravagant practices
to the extreme and Emperor Fath Ali Shah of Persia and Emperor Shah Jahaan
of the Mogul empire, go down in history as two monarchs whose courts dazzled
with the extravagance showered on ceremonial robes, jewelry and thrones.
Notable pieces of emerald jewelry owned by
the Maharajah Jamsahib of Nawanagar
Shri Kumar Ranjithsinhji Vibhaji Jadeja, the Maharajah Jamsahib of
Nawanagar, was no exception in following the customs and traditions set by
his predecessors. Among the notable pieces of emerald jewelry owned by him
1) An emerald and pearl necklace inherited from his ancestors.
2) An art deco emerald and diamond necklace designed by Jacques Cartier.
3) Emerald collar or choker designed by Jacques Cartier
1) The emerald and pearl necklace inherited
from his ancestors
Characteristics of the emerald necklace
The emerald and pearl necklace had been among the family treasures of the
Maharajah for several centuries. Thus the necklace is an antique piece
designed and crafted by Indian jewelry craftsmen of a bygone era. The
necklace undoubtedly stands out as a unique piece of antique jewelry, a
living testimony to the outstanding skills of the ancient Indian craftsmen.
The necklace is a double-stranded pearl necklace, with two large emeralds
set as a pendant to it. The upper emerald in the pendant to which the
necklace is attached, is a 17th century oblong-cut emerald weighing 155
carats. The lower emerald in the pendant which hangs from the upper emerald,
is an 18th century 200-carat hexagonal-shaped carved emerald. The emerald
necklace seem to have undergone modifications over the years, and the most
recent of these modifications was carried out in the 1920s or 1930s, after Ranjithsinhji acquired the 200-carat hexagonal shaped carved emerald. It is
believed that Jacques Cartier himself restrung the necklace incorporating
the hexagonal-shaped emerald.
The necklace disappears after the Maharajah's
After the Maharajah's death in 1933, all his valuable items of jewelry
were inherited by his successors and remained with the family. Some of
the items were disposed of by the family such as the ceremonial necklace
incorporating the "Queen of Holland" diamond designed by Jacques Cartier,
which was purchased from the family, by Cartier in 1960. But, no one
exactly knows what happened to the emerald and pearl necklace after the
The necklace reappears after 72 years at
Christie's Auction House in London
The necklace apparently disappeared after his death, and re-appeared only
after 72 years in August 2005, at Christie's Auction House in London, to
whom the necklace had been assigned for sale. No one seems to know the exact
circumstances under which the necklace disappeared from the treasury of the
royal family. Nothing is known about the identity of the owner of the
necklace due to the policy of secrecy adhered to by Christie's, that refuses
to divulge the identity of the owner, unless the owner voluntarily agrees to
reveal his identity.
Christie's Auction House in London advertised the sale of the historic
emerald necklace, that was fixed for September 23, 2005, and placed a
reserve value of £ 1.6 million on the necklace. The
company said that the necklace was one of the most important historic pieces
of Indian jewelry in existence, and was a favorite piece of jewelry of the
late Maharajah Ranjithsinhji of Nawanagar.
Commenting on the renowned necklace that was to go up
for sale in September 2005, the director of Christie's jewelry department, David
Warren said, "I have seen many carved emeralds but they were nearly
always unmounted. It's very uncommon to find a complete necklace. I've
never actually seen another complete maharajah necklace like this."
Christie's call off the
auction of the celebrated necklace
After a worldwide advertising campaign by Christie's about the sale of the
celebrated necklace, a personal favorite of the Maharajah, the present
descendants of the Maharajah were alerted about the impending auction.
Shatrushalyasinh Jadeja, a descendent of Ranjitsinhji Jadeja, and the
present Jamsahib of Nawanagar, decided to find out how the celebrated piece
of family jewelry that had mysteriously disappeared for so many years,
eventually found its way to the Christie's Auction House. It was his
contention that the necklace was special and remained with the family for
centuries, and that Ranjitsinhji would have never sold it to anyone during his
lifetime. In fact Ranjitsinhji was so rich and owned eight Rolls Royce
cars, and several palaces both in England and India, that there wasn't any
reason for him to have disposed of the historic necklace.
The family of the Maharajah had expressed its concern to Christie's about
the impending auction, and perhaps shown an interest in purchasing the
family heirloom back from its present owner if legitimate. Christie's agreed
and decided against auctioning the royal jewel. Accordingly the head of
Christie's jewelry department in London said, "The necklace would not be
part of the auction coming up on September 23, 2005, nor any other auction."
2) Art deco emerald and diamond necklace
designed by Jacques Cartier
The art deco emerald and diamond necklace designed by Jacques Cartier of the
London branch of Cartier's at the request of his friend the Maharajah of
Nawanagar Ranjithsinhji, is a masterpiece in art deco jewelry creations for
which Cartier's was famous for. The extraordinary piece contains 17 large
emerald-cut emeralds of good color, clarity and transparency, of Colombian
origin, and reputed to have come from the collection of a former Sultan of
Turkey. The 17 emeralds have a total weight of 277 carats and the three
large emeralds in the pendant alone weighs 70 carats.
The three large rectangular emerald-cut emeralds are arranged in the shape
of a pyramid on the pendant. The largest emerald in this pyramid forms the
base of the pyramid, with its long axis parallel to the horizontal. The
other two emeralds also rectangular in shape, are arranged one on top of the
other, on the base emerald, with their long axes parallel to the
vertical. The entire pyramid of emeralds is surrounded by a single layer of
small round brilliant-cut diamonds.
At the point where the pendant joins the necklace a square emerald-cut
emerald has been placed, also surrounded by a row of smaller diamonds. The
necklace itself is made up of two rows of round brilliant-cut diamonds,
interspersed with emeralds placed at symmetrical positions. The two lowest
emeralds, placed symmetrically on either side, are rectangular-shaped and surrounded by a single layer of small
rounded emeralds. Next comes two triads of emeralds placed symmetrically on
either side. Each triad has a central large square-shaped emerald flanked on
either side by two smaller rectangular-shaped emeralds, surrounded by a row
of smaller emeralds. At the next symmetrical position on either side is a
square-shaped emerald, surrounded by a row of smaller diamonds. Finally a
single triad of emeralds is placed at the point where necklaces
usually have a hook or locking device.
3) Emerald Collar (Choker)
A tight-fitting emerald collar or choker worn by the Maharajah over the
collar of his royal robes was another extravagant piece of jewelry belonging
to his collection. The collar was made up of 20 almost identical
square-shaped emeralds, each surrounded by a row of small round brilliant
diamonds, and a single pear-shaped emerald also surrounded by small diamonds
suspended from the central square-shaped emerald in the front.
Photographs of the Maharajah show him wearing this emerald collar together
with the four-stranded pearl necklace. The green emerald collar provided a
striking contrast to the white robes of the Maharajah. In this particular
photograph, the Maharajah is seen wearing a black turban surmounted by a
diamond-studded sarpech in the form of a flying eagle, and two strings of
white pearls radiating from the feet of the flying bird towards the sides of
the turban. A circular diamond-studded brooch is pinned to the right side of
his turban. The 4-stranded pearl necklace, the emerald choker, and the
sarpech on the white turban, together impart an elegant and majestic
appearance to the Maharajah.
Shri Kumar Ranjithsinhji Vibhaji Jadeja, the
Maharajah Jamsahib of Nawanagar - A short profile
His birth and early education
Kumar Shri Ranjithsinhji an Indian prince, who became a cricketing legend,
unofficially known in the cricketing world as the "Black Prince of
Cricketers" and fondly referred to by his fans and admirers as "Ranji," was
born on September 10, 1872, into the ruling family of Jadegas, in the small
village of Sarodar, in the west-central Indian province of Kathiawar, which
is in the present day Gujarat state. Kathiawar was part of the princely
state of Nawanagar founded in 1540, and its capital was Jamnagar. The state
was ruled by a clan of Rajput warriors known as the Jadejas.
Ranjithsinghji proceeds to England to pursue
his higher education and develops an interest towards cricket
After receiving his early education in India, at Rajkumar College, Rajkot,
Ranjithsinhji proceeded to England to pursue his higher education, where he
joined Harrow and later Trinity College, Cambridge. in 1891. While excelling
in his studies at College, Ranjithsinhji also developed a liking towards
the game of cricket and played first-class cricket for Cambridge University,
and was awarded a cricket blue in recognition of his excellent performance.
Highlights of Ranjithsinhji's cricketing
After graduating from Cambridge University in 1895 he joined the Sussex
cricket team to play county cricket, and his impressive performance earned
him a place in the English Test cricket team for 1896. Thus Ranji acquired
the dual honors of being the first Indian to play Test cricket as well as
the first Indian to play for the English national team. He also
distinguished himself in his maiden test by scoring 154 runs not out
in the second innings against Australia at Old Trafford, becoming the second
batsman in English test cricket to score a century on the maiden test. His
knock of 154 runs also set another record, by becoming the first batsman to
score 100 runs before lunch in just 2 hours on day three of the match. Again
in his first overseas test for England against Australia in 1897 he scored
175 runs in the first innings, the highest score that had ever been made for
England in Test cricket. Thus Ranji became the first English cricketer to
achieve the record of scoring centuries in both debut tests home and away, a
rare feat that was not repeated by any English player until Andrew Strauss
Other highlights of his cricketing career spanning almost 20 years from 1893
to 2012 include :-
1) Passing 1,000 runs in 10 successive domestic seasons.
2) Scoring over 3,000 runs in 1899 and 1900.
3) The first cricketer to score over 3,000 runs in English first class
cricket in 1899.
4) Captaining Sussex from 1899 to 1903.
5) Scoring a first-class hundred in each innings on the same day, a feat
that has not been repeated by any cricketer up to date.
6) Playing 307 first-class matches.
7) Scoring a total of 24,692 runs, with a batting average of 56.37.
8) Scoring 72 centuries and 109 half-centuries.
9) Achieving a top score of 285 runs.
10) Played 15 test matches for England, between 1896 and 1902, scoring a
total of 989 runs with a batting average of 44.95.
Ranjithsinhji ascends the throne as
Maharajah Jamsahib of Nawanagar. His contributions to the development of
In the year 1907, at the age of 35 years, Ranjithsinhji ascended the throne
as Maharajah Jamsahib of Nawanagar. His education and life spent in England
enabled him to acquire a broader vision for improving the living conditions
of his subjects in his domain. Accordingly he embarked on several projects
to modernize his state, giving preference to developing the basic
infrastructure of his state. Some of the infrastructural projects he
completed, included the construction of the modern port at Bedi, a
modern network of roads and railways, extensive irrigation schemes,
hospitals and dispensaries, rebuilding Jamnagar into a modern capital city,
and modernizing all public buildings. Being an enlightened ruler he also set
up sanctuaries for birds and animals.
Assignments other than his princely duties
During world war I he served as a British Army Staff Officer in France, and
was eventually promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He also
contributed to the war effort by giving his fleet of cars and trucks to the
British Army, and his country house at Staines, England, to be used as an
army hospital. He represented the Indian states at the League of Nations,
the predecessor of the United Nations, in 1920, and in 1932 he became the
Chancellor of the Indian Chamber of Princes. He was knighted by King George
V of the United Kingdom, on three occasions in 1917, 1919, and 1923, being
awarded the KCSI, GBE and the GCSI respectively.
His death and succession
Maharajah Ranjitsinghji died in the Jamnagar Palace in Nawanagar in 1933 at
the age of 61 years, and being unmarried was succeeded by his nephew Shri
Mackay Emerald Necklace
The Spanish Inquisition Necklace
3) Queen of Holland
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1.Going for pounds 1.6m, the cricketing maharaja's
emerald necklace - Independent, The (London), Aug 1, 2005 -by Louise Jury.
Ranjithsinhji - From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia.