This very fine pierced, floral-form pendant is of gold (most probably reinforced with lac). It is set with nine large emeralds, each of which has been carved to the surface with flowers, and nine rose-cut diamonds. A Baroque pearl is suspended from the lower end. A loop at the top allows for suspension from a chain so that the pendant may be worn from the neck.
The sides have traces of green enamel. The reverse has been finely enamelled in cream, green and red with multiple bird motifs among foliage.
The carving of emeralds with floral and other designs was much in vogue among the Mughal courts.
Emeralds were credited with therapeutic and talismanic properties, and most particularly they were believed to counteract the effects of poison – poisoning was a common means of vanquishing one’s enemies in court intrigues. Emeralds sourced from Spanish colonial mines in Colombia were imported to India from the end of the sixteenth century. Portuguese merchants operating from Goa and who traded with Spanish suppliers were an important source of emeralds for Mughal India. Many were engraved in workshops in Jaipur or Gujarat with floral and leafy motifs.
The carved emeralds here hark back to earlier centuries when emeralds were carved in Mughal India, and might well be from the eighteenth century. An eighteenth century carved emerald with a related flower motif is in the Khalili Collection and illustrated in Moura Carvalho (2010, p. 67).
The pendant is in fine condition (only minor, age-related losses to the enamelling) and highly wearable.
Aitken, M.E., When Gold Blossoms: Indian Jewelry from the Susan L. Beningson Collection, Asia Society & Philip Wilson Publishers, 2004.
van Cutsem, A., A World of Rings: Africa, Asia, America, Skira, 2000.
Moura Carvalho, P., Gems and Jewels of Mughal India: Jewelled and Enamelled Objects from the 16th to 20th Centuries, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Volume XVII, The Nour Foundation, 2010.
Okada, A., L’Inde des Prices: La Donation Jean et Krishna Riboud, Tresors du Musee Guimet, 2000.