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From the beginning, Van Cleef & Arpels’ clientele has included maharajahs and maharanis passionate about Parisian High Jewelry. Among these royal patrons, the most extravagant was surely Sita Devi, who became the second wife of the Maharajah of Baroda in 1943.
Born in India in 1917, Sita Devi was known as the “Indian Wallis Simpson,” particularly due to her taste for luxury and her spirited passion for jewelry. She assembled a magnificent collection of more than 300 jewels and precious objects, and exhibited a pronounced predilection for transforming her traditional ensembles into more contemporary pieces. A great traveler, she was a regular at the Ritz in Paris, often shuttling between her suite and the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique before settling permanently in France, where she frequented elite international social circles.
During the 1950s, tête-à-têtes between the Maharani of Baroda and Jacques Arpels resulted in many special orders. The Hindu necklace, commissioned by Sita Devi in 1950, was once such creation. Made up of stones taken exclusively from the Baroda royal treasure, it features 13 Colombian teardrop emeralds totaling more than 150 carats. The piece portrays a lotus flower blooming in the center of a floral garland choker set with emeralds and diamonds. The leaves and flower petals, fashioned to convey movement, pay tribute to the vitality of nature.