Jewellery Showcasing 300-Year Old Traditions on Auction Next Week

Jewels featuring meenakari  and thewa work—traditions which are rarely in practice today

  • Rare gemstones include Old Mogok mine rubies, sapphires, natural saltwater pearls, emeralds
  • Three-strand natural pearl necklace and pair of sapphire earrings lead the sale
  • Auction includes glamorous objets d’art featuring brands such as Tiffany and Cartier
  • Targeted at local and international buyers

Mumbai, 14 October 2016: In the Indian sub-continent, jewellery-making has always been on par with other art traditions. Many of the techniques and motifs employed in miniature painting reflect in jewellery. Some of these traditions are more than 300 years old and are on the verge of dying out, with very few fine examples surviving today. Saffronart’s upcoming auction, Fine Jewels and Objets, presents a fascinating panorama of some of these jewellery traditions.


With a mix of precious jewels including Old Mogok mine rubies, sapphires, emeralds and freshwater pearls set in traditional and contemporary styles, the auction also includes pieces that showcase exemplary enamelling techniques from the Mughal era. A three-hinged emerald and polki diamond bajuband, estimated at INR 20 – 25 lakhs (USD 30,305 – 37,880) features meenakari on the reverse. The red and green foliate motif set on a white ground was commonly seen in 18th century enamelling. The three-part hinge is typical of the Mughal style. It features kundanset diamonds surrounding a carved emerald, with enamelling on the reverse. Bajubands were symbolic of wealth and power among Indian monarchs and women of the royal court.


A period thewa bracelet, estimated at INR 1.25 – 2.25 lakhs (USD 1,895 – 3,410), showcases exquisite enamelling. According to the Saffronart catalogue, Thewa is a unique form of jewellery-making with its origins the Mughal era. It is a traditional art created exclusively in the Pratapgarh district of Rajasthan. Once a closely guarded family secret, it found its way to Europe and some pieces can be seen in the collection of Queen Elizabeth. Thewa is made by fusing 23 karat gold sheets with multi-coloured molten glass. The glass is treated to make the gold glitter and reflect off its surface, as seen in the piece on auction.


Tasselled necklaces, objets including gold cigarette cases and holders, pill boxes, perfume dabbers, and fancy coloured stones, are among the highlights of the sale. Rare gemstones include sapphires, rubies from the Mogok mines in Myanmar, and natural saltwater pearls. A three-strand natural pearl necklace with exceptionally well-matched pearls leads the sale at INR 2.8 – 3.2 crores (USD 424,245 – 484,850). Among the highlights is a pair of sapphire and diamond earrings, estimated at INR 1.6 – 1.9 crores (USD 242,425 – 287,880). Other highlights include a spinel necklace; sapphire and diamond earrings; and a kunzite, pink sapphire and diamond ring. Some lots, such as the sautoir, rings, pendants and earrings are suitable for everyday wear. The catalogue was put together keeping a broad collector base in mind, and the lots will appeal to buyers across the world.



  1. Three Strand Natural Pearl Necklace
    Designed as three strands of well-matched, gently graduated natural pearls to a diamond-set clasp
    Estimate: INR 2.8 – 3.2 crores (USD 424,245 – 484,850)
  1. Sapphire and Diamond Earrings
    Aristocratic and rare, each earring is a stylised cluster centred on a oval-shaped blue sapphire with a surround of marquise and pear-shaped diamonds to a diamond-set hoop in white gold.

Estimate: INR 1.6 – 1.9 crores (USD 242,425 – 287,880)

  1. Five Strand Spinel Beads Necklace

Well-matched gently graduated spinel beads joined by an adjustable silk cord

Estimate: INR 25 – 30 lakhs (USD 37,880 – 45,455)

  1. Kunzite and Pink Sapphire Ring
    A cocktail ring with a fine square-shaped checkerboard kunzite is at the centre. The centre stone has an immediate surround of full-cut diamonds and an extended surround of oval-shaped pink sapphires and pear-shaped rose-cut diamonds, mounted in gold.

Estimate:  INR 2 – 3 lakhs (USD 3,035 – 4,550)

  1. Suite of Five Accessories
    Comprising of two cigarette holders, one lighter, one pencil and one perfume dabber in bamboo shoot design by Tiffany & Co. in 14 K

Estimate:  INR 3 – 4 lakhs (USD  4,550 – 6,065)

  1. Gold Cigarette Case by Tiffany & Co.

A 14 K gold cigarette case with a basket weave pattern by Tiffany & Co. With maker’s marks.

Estimate:  INR 3 – 4 lakhs (USD  4,550 – 6,065)

  1. Gold Cigarette Case by Cartier

An 18 K gold cigarette box with a border of white enamel in geometric arabesque patterns set with gemsones by Cartier.

Estimate:  INR 10.5 – 15.5 lakhs (USD  15,910 – 23,485)

Minal Vazirani, co-founder of Saffronart says, “Fine Jewels features important pieces created around European old cut diamonds, as well as the traditional Indian jewellery techniques of meenakari and thewa seen from the Mughal era to present day. The auction offers buyers an unprecedented opportunity, not only to acquire pieces of exceptional quality, but also become keepers of traditions which are recognised for their greatness but unfortunately are also on the verge of dying out.”


The auction catalogue can be viewed on The sale is preceded by viewings in Mumbai.


Fine Jewels and Objets: 18 – 19 October 2016

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