The Spanish Inquisition necklace and Indian Maharajah connection

Spanish Inquisition Necklace,
Above image: World famous Spanish Inquisition Necklace, in the collections of  Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. The necklace has 15 large emeralds and 16 large diamonds.

The Spanish Inquisition necklace,named by jeweler Harry Winston of USA, was first owned by the Maharajah of Indore, Tukoji Rao III, in the early 20th century as per record, later upon his abdication, it was passed on to his son, Yashvantrao II, who ascended the throne. That, it was once worn  by the  ladies of Spanish and French royalty in the early 20th century prior to Indore Maharajah, does not have any proof on record. The Spanish Inquisition necklace, donated in 1972 by Cora Hubbard Williams of  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is now in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals of Smithsonian Institution's American Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

Spanish Inquisition Necklace

Above image: Spanish Inquisition Necklace.15 large emeralds and 16 large diamonds.  Necklace consists of two strands of antique-cut diamonds and emeralds ......

Well-known  actress Katharine Hepburn, wore the necklace to the 19th Academy Awards. Actually it was loaned it to the actress by Harry Winston, who in 1947, bought it from Yashvantrao II. The necklace was made of fifteen barrel-cut and oval-cut Muzo emeralds from the Cinturon Esmeraldífero ("Emerald Belt") of the Andes Mountains, in Gobernación de Boyacá, Cordillera Occidental, Colombia and more than 100 diamonds of Golconda origin. It is strongly believed that gemstones in the necklace may have been cut in India during the 17th century,

According to Jeffrey Post, the curator of the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution, Harry Winston was the one who named this  beautiful jewelry of beauty and splendor as “Spanish Inquisition Necklace” before he sold it to Mrs. Cora Hubbard Williams of Pittsburgh. The stunning 17th century  gemstones in the necklace, record has it, were  shipped from South America to Europe and Asia.

It is believed that the large diamonds and Colombian emeralds were most likely cut in India in the 17th century, making them one of the earliest examples of cut gemstones in the Smithsonian’s Collection. The difficult and very delicate and time-consuming procedures of stone drilling might has been carried out by the skilled Indian artisans with meticulous care in the 16th and 17th centuries.

This famous necklace has two parts. The single stranded the upper-half of the necklace is made of smacker diamonds whereas the the double stranded lower part consists of two concentric semi-circles made of  smaller diamonds interspersed with pairs of large barrel-shaped diamonds and emeralds, placed symmetrically on the strands. At the center on the double strand is
chandelier-shaped pendant made up of five large emeralds. The largest emerald in the necklace is centrally placed on the lower strand. The point where the upper-half and lower-half meet,two large emeralds have been placed.
There are 15 large emeralds, 16 large diamonds, and around 120 smaller diamonds in the necklace.The large emerald in the necklace was among the world’s very finest quality emeralds.

Incidentally the necklace has nothing to do with the historical Spanish Inquisition " one of the darkest chapters in the history of mankind, during which the intolerance of medieval Christianity towards religious pluralism, led to the persecution of Jews, Muslims and Protestants in pluralistic Spain, that led to at least 2,000 of these innocent souls being burned alive at the stakes. It may be of interest to mention at this juncture the Portuguese inquisition of
1600s took place on a large scale in Goa, India, a place slightly far off from the princely state of Indore, from where the Spanish Inquisition necklace originated in the later period. Portuguese committed atrocities against Indian Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Jews a few centuries earlier, before the making of Spanish inquisition necklace by the Indian Maharajah,Tukoji Rao III.