Mogul era diamond-crusted spectacles to be auctioned by Sotheby's of London

diamond-emerald studded Mogul era

For the rich and famous  elite of Europe and America India has been of great interest to  them in the area of rare artifacts, antique brass idols, breath-taking  diamond crusted jewelry, etc. They know very well the diamonds of past era mined from Kollur mines (Golconda) are flawless and of superior quality with very low impurities. There has been a demand for the jewelry from the collections of Mogul rulers, Indian Maharajahs and the Nizam of Hyderabad. The proposed auction of diamond-crusted spectacles of Mogul era of India by Sotheby's (a British-founded American multinational corporation headquartered in New York City)  of London toward the end of this month was a welcome news for the aristocrats and the rich because they did not know what to do with their vast wealth!!

When  the  world famous Auction Houses like Sotheby's or Christie put up India related jewelry, etc., from the Mogul or Maharajahs' collections  at an auction you  can expect a large turnout of the rich and elite because they know very well that the items to be auctioned are something special, exotic and carry amazing workmanship. 

That a  pair of rare unrecorded diamond and emerald crusted spectacles from an unknown Indian princely treasury will be sold at an auction in London by  Sotheby's  later this month (October 2021) is  an exciting news. The items to be sold at the auction are neither jewelry nor some kind of rare artifacts; it is a rare gift from the other part of the globe to observe  the kaleidoscopic world through diamonds and emeralds - just eye-glasses. 

Mogul era spectacles with diamonds,

According to the famous auction house Sotheby's who caters to needs of eccentric and weird English aristocrats  and others  the lenses were set  in the Mughal-era frames around 1890. The lenses made with diamonds were not meant for poor eye sight problem, rather they were  thought to provide enlightenment.  Sotheby's said that a diamond and an emerald were shaped into the two spectacles.

To get the attention of the rich and famous, they came up with an interesting  catchy caption, a sort of publicity gimmick: Emeralds were believed to have miraculous powers to heal and to ward off evil. The likelihood is the successful bidder at the ensuing auction will be  protected or insulated  from possible ''spell'' or some kind of sorcery  by wearing the unique specs. 

Edward Gibbs, chairman of Sotheby's for Middle East and India, said,  ''These extraordinary curiosities bring together myriad threads - from the technical mastery of the cutter and the genius of craftsmanship to the vision of a patron who chose to fashion two pairs of glasses quite unlike anything ever seen before,"    As part of wide publicity before the scheduled auction  sale, the spectacles  were  exhibited  for the first time in Hong Kong between  7-11 October  and  will be on display  in London (between  22-26 October).  Sotheby's says the rare and fascinating spectacles - one of a kind in the world, will be offered at auction for £1.5m-2.5m ($2m-$3.4m) each; indeed a whooping sum.  This unique item of beauty and belief is supposedly a  status symbol. It contains  a diamond pair named the Halo of Light, and the emerald pair named the Gate of Paradise.

Mogul era diamond crusted spectacles.

No doubt  the quality and purity of  gemstones  used in the specs is superb with fine luster.  Further  stones of this size would no doubt have  gotten the attention of the ruler. 

As to the origin of these specs or which ruler commissioned them, the  historical  record is not clear. Belonging the the dynasty of Mogul  that ruled the subcontinent in the 16th and 17th centuries, this rare pair of  spectacles will bear testimony to the  ingenuity and  artistic talents of the goldsmiths of the past era. They remained in a private collection for almost half a century  In  1890, the lenses were placed in new frames and decorated with rose-cut diamonds.

Regarding the origin of  precious stones, the diamond lenses - cleaved as a pair from a single natural diamond - are thought to be from the  Kollur mines (Andhra state) of Golconda kingdom in southern India. The teardrop-shaped emeralds are believed to be from a single natural Colombian emerald.

Normally ordinary lenses  are used in the specs  to improve eye-sight. But the Mogul spectacles have filters - apparently, they were   aids for spiritual  awakening or exhilaration The diamonds are set to   illuminate and emeralds are  used  to heal and  ward off evil. 

The auction house said the use  of  precious stone to watch events by the royals  of Europe was in vogue in the past era.  Roman Emperor Nero used the  surface of a precious green stone to watch gladiatorial contests.  Nero's tutor, Seneca, was quite familiar with  refraction of light, mirrors, and optics and was  thought to have made first-ever spectacles.

Commenting on the Mughal pieces, in a brief interview to Sotheby’s, famous art historian and writer William Dalrymple said ''The owner was taking an extraordinary risk because the original diamond which was split to create the lenses must have been between 200-300 karats." .

A couple of rare and  prized spectacles, studded with diamonds and emerald lenses from Mughal era of India, it is expected might fetch  around £4 million  at the  auction  to be held in London toward the end of this month.