Claude and Jacques Arpels made frequent voyages to India, where they numbered maharajas and princesses among their clients. Of these, none was more extravagant than the Maharani of Baroda.
Nicknamed “The Indian Wallis Simpson”, the Maharani of Baroda – wife of the Maharaja of Baroda – had an insatiable passion for jewelry and a fabulous collection of over 300 pieces stretching back to the Mughal era. The Maharani particularly enjoyed having gems from her husband’s Crown Jewels converted into contemporary designs.
Baroda necklace fomerly owned by the Maharani of Baroda, 1950, Private Collection
Baroda earrings fomerly owned by the Maharani of Baroda, 1950, Private Collection
A seasoned international traveler, she would stay at the Paris Ritz and then cross the Place Vendôme to the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique, accompanied by servants bearing boxes of precious stones. The gems were remounted in the sumptuous pieces she commissioned from the Maison.
Of these, perhaps none was more spectacular than the Baroda necklace, also known as the Lotus necklace or the Hindu necklace, which she ordered in 1950. It consists of 13 pear-shaped Colombian emeralds – weighing a total of 154.70 carats – suspended from a lotus flower set with pavé-set diamonds. The body of the necklace sparkles with dozens more emeralds and diamonds. Most remarkably, the gems were all supplied by the Maharani and belonged to the Baroda Crown Jewels.