Haute RE Magazine

Haute Joaillerie

For the World’s New Maharajas and Maharanis

At Maison Boucheron, they call it Haute Joaillerie, the peak of jewellery design and craftsmanship. Who could argue that Place Vendôme is not the Everest of jewellery? In 2022, the famous workshop’s creative director, Claire Choisne, delved into its archives to bring one of its most fantastical stories to life. The result — The New Maharajahs Collection.

The churiyans — ancient symbols of protection worn by brides — is a set of ten bracelets in white gold, diamonds, mother of pearl and pearls.
New Maharani Nacre Necklace: diamonds, rock crystal and mother-of-pearl, with cultured pearls, in white gold. The brooch, originally a turban ornament called a Sarpech, in diamonds

A very tall tale …

Claire Choisne was captivated by the unlikely tale and its extraordinary outcome…

It was 1928. At The Ritz Hotel, a visitor to Paris had booked 35 suites for his entourage. The reason for his trip was encased in several iron safes. Parisian high society was abuzz with excitement — the Maharaja of Patiala, who was said to stand 6 feet 7 inches tall, was looking for a jeweller.

The Maharaja marched across Paris with his iron safes, flanked by Sikh guardsmen. He made his way to Place Vendôme where Louis Boucheron was there to meet him at the door. Once inside, they opened the safes. Louis looked and could not believe what he saw: diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls by the thousands. Now the dignified guest issued his command: the Maharajah wanted every stone and pearl transformed into a matching set of jewellery.

Boucheron’s creative team used original sketches from 1928 to inspire their New Maharajas Collection
The brooch: nine Colombian cushion-cut emeralds, paved with diamonds, rock crystal and emeralds, in platinum and white gold

From the pages of history

Choisne was able to look at the original drawings which have been kept at Boucheron for the past 74 years.

This commission by the Maharajah of Patiala seemed like a fairytale — the stuff of dreams. In our archives, we have kept the 149 original designs where I found my inspiration for this collection. I wanted to transpose these designs into the 21st century, and to reinvent them for today’s Maharanis and Maharajahs.”

Choisne’s designs are released from the weight of history, brighter and lighter than the originals, with a flexibility that reflects modern lifestyles. For example, the New Maharajah Set, which contains nine Colombian emeralds, can also be worn as a brooch. Once transformed, the necklace becomes a collar, lined with baguette-cut emeralds. Throughout, the spirit of the padma, the lotus flower in India, is a constant. You’ll see it in rings, earrings and necklaces.

The timelessness of precious stones

Perhaps the elements that bring the Maharaja and his wives walking back into any room are the sarpech and the churiyans. Choisne has revisited the churiyans — ancient symbols of protection worn by brides — in a set of ten bracelets of white gold, diamonds, mother of pearl and pearls. The sarpech would have graced the turban of the Maharajah. Today it can be worn as a brooch or a hair ornament, in white gold with rose-cut diamonds.

The Maharajah himself is a footnote in history today. But, thanks to the careful curation of a few fragile pieces of paper and the drawings etched on them, glimmers of his time and his extraordinary vision are reflected in the glories of Maison Boucheron’s creations.

Boucheron is available at Holt Renfrew, Vancouver.