The selection, assembled by Qatar royal family member Sheikh Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Thani, features nearly 400 jewels, gemstones and decorative objects.
It includes ornaments, ceremonial objects and decorative art used by Indian royals and elites during the age of the Maharajas.
Among the most prized highlights of the collection is an ibex-headed carved jade cup, dating from between 1660 and 1680. The decorative piece is expected to sell for between $1.0 million and $1.5 million.
These historical pieces are complemented by creations from the 20th century by major jewelry houses such as Bulgari, Cartier, Janesich and Lacloche.
This period saw a creative fusion between India and the West, fueled by a succession of maharajas entrusting their jewels to the continent’s most renowned jewelers to be redesigned.
Among them is the Patiala Ruby Choker, which was commissioned by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala and created by Cartier in 1931. The necklace, featuring rubies, diamonds and pearls, carries a high estimate of $1.2 million.
The top lot of the sale is a devant-de-corsage brooch by Cartier, dating from the Belle Époque. The piece, which features two central diamonds of respectively 34.08 and 23.55 carats, is expected to fetch between $10 million and $15 million.
Although Christie’s didn’t announce an estimated total for the auction, “Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence” is expected to bring in tens of millions of dollars.
It could even overtake the record-breaking sale of late actress Elizabeth Taylor’s private jewelry collection, which sold for $115.9 million in 2011 at Christie’s.
“What distinguishes this auction from many of the other Indians sales that we have put together is the scale, the quality of the works on offer and the range. We have almost 400 lots up for sale, and they range from $10,000 to $10 million. Everything is the best of its kind. The best rubies. The best diamonds,” Christie’s International Head of Jewelry, Rahul Kadakia, told Forbes.
The Al Thani Collection will be offered at Christie’s on June 19 in New York City. Proceeds from the auction will support ongoing initiatives of the Al Thani Collection Foundation, which include exhibitions, publications and lectures as well as sponsorships of projects at museums around the world.