January 25, 2022—The New Maharajahs High Jewelry Collection Boucheron debuted in Paris this week delved into the firm’s storied history. It went back to 1928 to be exact. The Jazz Age was humming. Café Society populated Paris. And the Art Deco movement was in full swing.
Inspiration from cultures around the world and through time can be found in the jewelry, but perhaps no place held more sway over the imagination of designers than India. Dazzling maharajahs mingled with Paris society and commissioned works from the best design houses on the Place Vendôme and Rue de la Paix.
One such extraordinary commission took place at Boucheron. In August 1928 during a visit to the City of Lights, Bhupinder Singh, otherwise known as The Maharajah of Patiala, walked across the Place Vendôme from his suites in the Ritz Hotel to Boucheron escorted by Sikh guards carrying iron safes filled with thousands of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and pearls.
The Maharajah presented his haul to Louis Boucheron, the son of founder Frédéric Boucheron, for a very special order. Louis got to work and made an astonishing 149 designs from the gems including emerald and diamond collars, multi-strand pearl necklaces and bejeweled belts.
“This commission by the Maharajah of Patiala seemed like a fairytale, it is the stuff of dreams,” says Boucheron’s artistic director Claire Choisne. “In our archives, we have kept the 149 original designs from which I got my inspiration for this collection.”
Claire maintained many hallmarks of Indian jewelry in her creations such as lotus flowers carved in stones, silhouettes of sarpech (turban ornaments) and wedding bracelets. There is also the decadence of ropes of pearls and large bib necklaces.
The designer made the collection modern by streamlining the palette to mainly white gems: diamonds, rock crystal and pearls. Emeralds provide splashes of color. Claire also made many of the jewels convertible so they can be worn in a variety of ways.
The legendary French jewelry historian Vincent Meylan tells the story of the 1928 Boucheron commission by The Maharajah of Patiala in the video below. He is followed by Claire Choisne who provides illuminating descriptions of her design process and the New Maharajahs High Jewelry Collection.