“This commission by the Maharajah of Patiala seemed like a fairytale, it is the stuff of dreams,” reminisces Boucheron’s creative director Claire Choisne who, almost a century later, has launched a collection inspired by the brand’s most famous order. Choisne’s ‘New Maharajahs’ line digs through the archives and reinterprets nostalgic details with a contemporary approach. “I wanted to transpose these designs into the 21st century, and to reinvent them for today’s Maharanis and Maharajahs. For these women and these men who want to express their personality and their own style,” explains Choisne. “I hope you will feel transported by it.”
Although Boucheron initially designed the 1928 collectibles for a male, and an Indian, Choisne’s versions of the jewels are genderless and borderless. Much like the originals, they are built with the intention to stand the test of time. Choisne steers clear of clichés like traditional yellow gold and coloured stones, opting for a muted palette of monochrome instead, with the exception of emeralds, in the ‘New Maharajah’ series. “We made the radical choice to use mainly white and transparency,” she explains. The remakes offer an experimental element too, toying with form and function and playing with proportion. Constructed with a refreshing perspective, the ‘New Maharajah’ hoops are not your run-of-the-mill earrings. Instead, Choisne brings to life platinum sunrays studded with 58 emerald drops, for a striking silhouette. Another unexpected ear jewel is the ‘New Padma Nacre’ that asymmetrically sits along the lobe, enhanced with a cacophony of diamonds, rock crystals, mother-of-pearl drops, pearls and cacholong, paired with two pear-cut diamond studs (totaling 1.20 carats) that look like they belong on the red carpet.
The 2022 collection places great value in versatility too. Choisne conjures up a showstopper in the ‘New Maharajah’ collar necklace brimming with baguette-cut emeralds and diamonds. She elevates the piece with a detachable central pendant that transforms into a brooch. And this isn’t just any brooch – it’s a 40-carat galore showcasing nine Colombian emeralds. Another necklace with endless possibilities is the ‘New Maharani Nacre’. The opulent piece separates into two bracelets, a brooch and a shorter choker. Crafted from cultured pearls, melon-cut rock crystal beads, mother-of-pearl elements and diamond pave, the individual configurations are as impressive as the combined masterpiece. Next on the lineup, Choisne adds a turban ornament as a tribute to her royal muse. However, the ‘New Sarpech’ promises to be more than a pin: it easily repurposes into a hair jewel or brooch, glittering with a generous dose of rose-cut diamonds, including a not-to-be-missed 0.68 carat central stone.
Choisne switches easily between East and West, honoring Indian adornments like the sarpech in a relevant way for today’s wearer. She also brings bridal chudas into the spotlight in ‘New Churiyans’ with a set of ten bangles encrusted with diamonds, pearls and mother-of-pearl in white gold. For bonus points, she creates a spectacular bobbin with mother-of-pearl marquetry to display the bangles in all their glory. The lotus (a Hindu symbol for beauty and fertility) is a recurring theme in her designs, best viewed in the ‘New Maharani’choker compilation of lotus lacework and embedded with a drop-dead 4.08 carat cushion-cut diamond. “This choker is probably my favorite piece,” admits Choisne. There’s also a series called ‘New Padma’ (Hindi for lotus) where floral figures are engraved in rock crystal using the ancient technique called glyptic from the Maharajah’s era. This artwork can be admired in a set of theatrical rings: one with a rock crystal dome, three-dimensional lotus and cacholong shank, and another called ‘New Padma Diamants’ that beams with a 2.01 carat pear-cut diamond surrounded by rock crystal.Perhaps the ‘New Maharani Cristal’ is the most reminiscent of India’s yesteryear jewels. Made of familiar details like multiple strands, tassel cords and glyptic carvings (and five fabulous cushion-cut diamonds valuing 7.35 carats) it really looks like a stately heirloom that could be celebrated another century from now.