In November 1937, His Highness the Maharao of Cutch purchased an impressive ruby ring at Cartier London. The 'Queen of Burma', as it is now known, is the perfect representation of the exquisite relationship between the European house of jewellery and Indian Royalty of that time. The ring is set with an extraordinary Burmese ruby, weighing approximately 23.66 carats, symbolizing the lavish life-style and connoisseurship of the Indian Maharajas. The setting illustrates the modernity and style of the period with simple and clean lines creating a strong and architectural ring for a gentleman. The novelty of the Art Deco style is exemplified further by four baguette-cut baton diamonds set backward on the prongs of the ring.
The 'Queen of Burma' combines all the most sought-after qualities in a ruby, an attractive colour, an excellent purity, an impressive size, and the finest origin, making it an exceptional gem-stone. The gem connoisseur Mr. Richard W. Hughes, wrote on the subject: 'Crystallized ruby is relatively common. But when rubies are found as fine, pure red translucent or transparent single crystals, they become some of the rarest minerals on the planet. As an advanced mineral collector I have only seen a handful that qualify as world-class ruby specimens and of those, only from Mogok (Myammar)'.
The saturated red colour of the ruby is due to a combination of well-balanced trace elements in the stone, characteristic of the finest rubies from Mogok. The 'Queen of Burma' is exquisite for the purity of its crystal, showing almost no inclusions visible to the unaided eye. The ruby has been spared exposure to heat treatment and its colour and purity are thus all natural. The lack of enhancement further accentuates the rarity and prestige of this fine natural Burmese ruby.
This exceptional stone could be compared with another exceptional gem, the 'Hope Ruby', a 32.08 carat cushion-shaped Burmese ruby and diamond ring by Chaumet, which sold for $6,742,440 against an estimate of $3,000,000 to $5,000,000. This world record price for a ruby at auction was part of the charitable Lily Safra sale, at Christie's Geneva, in May 2012. Like many prodigious stones, the 'Hope Ruby' was formerly in the collection of great personalities, such as Luz Mila Patio, the Countess du Boisrouvray. Such important pieces attract the most knowledgeable and refined ownerships, as the 'Queen of Burma' was once in the possession of the honorable Maharao Shri Khengarji III.
His Highness the Maharao Shri Khengarji III (1866-1942) balanced his life between modernity and heritage. An educated man, he often travelled to Europe, where he cultivated and cherished high political and personal relationships. During his very long reign, from 1875 to 1942, the Princely State of Cutch flourished and grew through the implementation of many developmental initiatives such as education and health systems. The ruler recognized the extraordinary value of the 'Queen of Burma' when he acquired the ring from Cartier, in 1937. Meanwhile, Jacques Cartier had developed a great interest for India, travelling frequently to the subcontinent, visiting many of its regions, and establishing real friendships with several ruling Maharajahs. India, with its history and culture of jewellery and beauty, offered a new market for the trade of stones as well as a great source of inspiration with different cuts and association of colours.
The relationship between Cartier and India was officialised in 1901 when Pierre Cartier was called to Buckingham Palace to create jewels of Indian inspiration for Queen Alexandra, Queen of England and Empress of India. The two countries intertwined histories was an opportunity for the jewellery house to fashion fabulous creations for the Royal family, influencing the style and the legacy of the time.
The marriage of Cartier's savoir-faire and India's extraordinary heritage produced other wonderful jewellery pieces, such as the famous Patiala necklace, for the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh and the Art Deco emerald and diamond necklaces of the Maharajah of Nawanagar Ranjithsinhji, made by Cartier, respectively in 1928 and 1926. The splendour and opulence of the Maharajah era in collaboration with the renowned house of Cartier lives on in the 'Queen of Burma'.