THE PROPERTY OF A LADY
In the 15th and 16th centuries, with the advent of the Spanish Conquistadors and their capture of the Inca Empire, Colombian emeralds began to journey across the oceans to Europe and the Philippines, which was a Spanish colony at the time. From the Philippines, the emeralds continued to travel to the Maharajahs of India. The relatively soft hardness of emeralds allowed the Mughal Emperors to carve verses of the Koran into the gemstones as well as exquisite foliate designs. The Maharajahs set the Colombian stones into elaborate belts, kada bangles and headpieces. The most important of the Colombian mines were the Muzo and Chivor located approximately 75 miles from Bogota. The Incas rigorously defended the locations of the sacred mines by concealing the way; they were discovered accidentally in 1558.
Colombian emeralds appeared in many Royal Collections and have since been offered at auction. Most famous perhaps was the collection of jewels of Empress Eugenie, sold on 24 May 1887, which contained several magnificent emeralds and was purchased by Tiffany & Co. More recently, in 1992, a collection of diamond and emerald jewelry sold on behalf of Mrs. James de Rothschild's Charitable Trust was offered by Christie's in Geneva. The emerald bead tiara, seed pearl and emerald drop sautoir by Cartier, and other magnificent gems could be traced not only to the Empress Eugenie, but, possibly Queen Isabella II, who ascended the throne in 1833. In June 2004 Christie's also sold The Magnificent Jewels From The Doris Duke Collection, which comprised three exceptional emerald bead necklaces which were believed to have been purchased during Ms. Duke's visits to India
The fluted beads in this superb necklace with their intense color and distinct saturation typifies the finest material of the Columbian emerald mines and are similar in quality to gems that were once part of fabulous royal treasures.