The inspiration behind Boucheron’s latest high jewelry collection reads like the opening of a fantasy film. In August of 1928, the Place Vendôme was buzzing with excitement at the arrival of Bhupindar Sing, the Maharajah of Patiala. The striking 6-foot 7-inch prince was known for his unrestrained taste for jewels and had traveled to Paris with forty servants and Sikh guards carrying multiple iron safes. The French did not know which jeweler the Maharajah would visit until he pushed open the door of a boutique and was greeted by Louis Boucheron. In the following minutes, Louis was stunned to discover the prince’s treasure. Within the safes were 7500 diamonds, 1500 emeralds, and countless numbers of rubies and pearls. The Maharajah wanted all of them to be set in exquisite pieces of jewelry.
Louis Boucheron would end up making the Maharajah 149 pieces, among them emerald and diamond collars, multiple-strand pearl necklaces and belts covered in precious stones. The three biggest pieces weighed in at about 150 carats all together. 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. Meanwhile, the story of the collection has reached mythical proportions for being the largest special order in Boucheron’s history.
Titled the New Maharajahs, the house’s new collection is a tribute to the momentous occasion of Sing’s arrival. “This commission by the Maharajah of Patiala seemed like a fairytale, it is the stuff of dreams,” house creative director, Claire Choisne said in a statement. “In our archives, we have kept the 149 original designs from which I got my inspiration. I wanted to transpose these designs into the 21st century, and reinvent them for today’s Maharanis and Maharajahs.”
For their latest outing, Choisne and her creative studio highlight not just 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 of the pieces, to convey purity and modernity. The collection, which consists of necklaces, bracelets, brooches, collars and ear pieces, is genderless. One of the most majestic pieces is the New Maharani necklace, a monochromatic choker that resembles diamond lace. The Maharajah necklace is equally stunning, with nine Columbian emeralds, totaling 40 carats, as the central feature. My favorite piece is the New Padma Nacre Earring, a modern take on the lotus flower. Like a miniature necklace, it sits over the wearer’s ear and looks both delicate and striking.
For more information on this stunning collection and interesting history, you can visit Boucheron.com.