Jewelry & Watches

The Historic Al Thani Jewels Modeled By Some of New York's Leading Women

Ahead of Christie's upcoming "sale of the century," photographer Claiborne Swanson Frank captures fashion's most powerful wearing important jewels from Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence.
IMAGE PHOTOGRAPHS BY CLAIBORNE SWANSON FRANK. CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: XIN LI, AMANDA HEARST AND AERIN LAUDER
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“The jewelry sale of the century” is, admittedly, a daunting phrase, and yet it is how many are describing the June 19 auction of over 400 diamonds, colored stones, and jeweled objects from the Al-Thani collection. The official name at Christie’s New York? “Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence.”

There are five hundred years of history on display in the sale’s lots and some of the most important examples of the jewelry commissioned by noble families of India as well as rare examples of the craftsmanship of the great European Jewelry houses (particularly Cartier).

"There will come a moment where someone will stop and wonder: 'how and where might you wear that?'"

As people begin to visit Christie’s tomorrow to see the Rockefeller Center galleries transformed for the occasion of the sale they will surely be overwhelmed by the size and rarity of the stones (see: enormous diamonds in the perfect antique rivière $1.2-1.5 million estimate) but there will come a moment in almost every visit where someone will stop and wonder: “how and where might you wear that?”

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Which is exactly why Christie’s commissioned photographer and T&C Contributing Editor Claiborne Swanson Frank to creative direct and photograph a series of portraits of some of New York’s most dynamic women wearing pieces from the collection with modern fashions but timeless and utterly contemporary attitude.

Lauren Santo Domingo, founder of Moda Operandi, wears a Bell Epoque Diamond and white feather turban ornament as a brooch (peeking out from behind it, as subtle as it can be, is the aforementioned diamond rivière).

In her portrait, Xin Li, deputy chairman of Christie’s Asia Pacific, wears the Patiala Ruby choker, created by Cartier in 1931 and once described as the finest example of a ruby necklace in the world, boldly and simply—there is no other jewelry present in the portrait, save one diamond ring by JAR (the sale also includes work by modern masters like JAR and Viren Bhagat).

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“The idea was to humanize these incredibly historic pieces."

Patricia Herrera Lansing makes an early 20th-century sarpach look like a 21st-century power crown. Swanson Frank, in her self portrait, fastens a 1910 Art Deco Style brooch by Paul Iribe to the shoulder of a lime green evening dress. The piece is something of a jewelry legend—Iribe only created eleven jewels in his life, and this brooch dared a radical geometry that set the stage for Art Deco—but on Swanson Frank it is brought out of the vitrine and history and into a modern light.

“The idea,” the photographer told T&C at a private luncheon at Christie’s to celebrate the collection last week, “was to humanize these incredible historic pieces.” The portraits, on powerful modern women, do just that. Now, after carefully considering them, imagine how one of the pieces in this once in a lifetime sale might look like on you.

The exhibition is open from June 14-18, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Christie's New York. The auction will be held on June 19.

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Jewelry from the Maharajas and Mughal Magnificence Exhibit

MAYA SAMUELSSON


Wearing an antique diamond and emerald sarpech, an antique ruby and diamond bracelet, an antique ruby, emerald, and gold hawking ring, a gem set gold archer’s ring, and a diamond, ruby and gold bazuband.

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AMANDA HEARST


Wearing a natural pearl and diamond necklace and a five-strand natural pearl and diamond necklace by Bhagat.

XIN LI


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Wearing the Patiala Ruby Choker by Cartier and the Pink Golconda Diamond by JAR.

LAUREN SANTO DOMINGO


Wearing a belle epoque diamond jigha, an antique diamond rivière necklace, and an antique diamond ring.

TERESA LOURENCO


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Wearing an antique diamond and spinel sarpech and an antique diamond and emerald necklace.

LAUREN BUSH LAUREN


AERIN LAUDER


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Wearing an antique diamond, emerald and ruby necklace.

MARINA DUENAS JACOBS


Wearing a diamond and emerald necklace.

PATRICIA HERRERA LANSING


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Wearing an antique emerald and diamond sarpech and an antique diamond, emerald and ruby collar necklace.

VERONICA SWANSON BEARD


Wearing a belle epoque diamond devant-de-corsage brooch by Cartier.

MARINA RUST


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Wearing an antique emerald, diamond, pearl and enamel tikka, a pair of antique diamond, pearl, and emerald earrings, and an antique diamond, ruby and enamel kada.

CLAIBORNE SWANSON FRANK


Wearing an art deco carved emerald, sapphire, diamond and pearl aigrette, by Paul Iribe for Robert Linzeler.

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*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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