Jewelry & Watches

The Al Thani's Collection of Indian Jewels Could Be the Jewelry Sale of the Century

The Al Thani family has amassed over 400 pieces, from Mughal emeralds to Golconda diamonds.

This is as major a collection as we’ll ever see at auction,” said Rahul Kadakia, Christie’s international head of jewelry. He was speaking of the 400 pieces the house will auction in New York on June 19 as part of the Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence sale. The historically significant selection comes from the Al Thani family, who have amassed one of the finest collections of Indian jewelry, jeweled objects and historic gemstones.

Those who visited the exhibitions of the Al Thani collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or at The Victoria & Albert Museum will recognize many pieces. Highlights include the Patiala Ruby Choker created by Cartier Paris in 1931, sometimes referred to as the finest ruby necklace ever made, a diamond riviere necklace originally from the collection of the Nizam of Hyderabad comprising almost 200 carats of exceedingly rare Golconda diamonds.

There are carved Mughal emeralds, and one of the famed Arcot diamonds, and several sensationally bejeweled turban ornaments, including one created in 1907 with white feathers and about 153 carats of diamonds. 


The Al Thani Family Jewels

Golconda Diamond Rivière Necklace

Hyderabad, circa 1890, from the collection of the Nizam of Hyderabad

Diamond Turban Ornament

India, 1907; remodeled circa 1935

The Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace

From the collection of the Nizams of India, circa 1850

The Patalia Ruby Choker Cartier, Paris, 1934

From the collection of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala

The jewelry world reacted across social media this morning as the news broke. FD Gallery in New York, which specializes in rare vintage pieces, represented the general mood when they posted the press release with the "head exploding" emoji. Some speculated that the sale had been in the works for some time, and that the recent museum exhibits are evidence of a long-term strategy. 

“I had a feeling this was coming,” said one insider who has his eye on a Cartier Devant de Corsage in the sale. "All these exhibitions around the world gave cachet to the pieces, as they now have been exhibited and published."

“This is as major a collection as we’ll ever see at auction.”

Another jewelry veteran sees an opportunity.

“Hamid Al Thani has been a voracious and leading buyer of Indian or Indian-inspired jewels over a relatively short period of time," says Lee Siegelson, a third generation jeweler who has bought and sold some of the world’s most historic jewels. "Either he planned to exhibit his collection to [set up] a successful auction sale, or he now needs the capital from the proceeds of a sale. Either way, depending on pricing, it is a good opportunity for buyers to acquire splendid jewels, many well-known and a few little known.”

*This article originally appeared on

*Minor edits have been made by the editors

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Stellene Volandes
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