EMERALD – The Mughal Gemstone

The “Mughal”. Possibly the most famous carved emerald in history

Emerald is May’s birthstone.  I’ve always loved the magnificent and historical Mughal (Mogul) carved emeralds.

From Muzoemeralds.com:

“The Mughal Empire was known to be the largest consumer of emeralds in the world in its day and to possess the most beautiful of them. Therefore, people thought that Indian emerald mines were incredibly productive and that their emeralds were of high quality. However, they discovered afterward that all these emeralds were of Muzo origin, in Colombia. In fact, Spaniards discovered the Muzo emerald mines around 1538; they exploited the mine and sent the emeralds to Spain and the European Courts, as well as to Goa in India. Goa was the master place in India to propose precious stones to Mughals, they were then sent to Jaipur where they were cut and polished. One of the largest and most famous was the “Mogul Mughal” emerald of 217.80 carats and measuring 10 cm, discovered in 1695. In one side, they engraved sacred Islamic prayers, and on the other side, floral decorations.
It is said that the last Mughal Emperor of India, Nabab Aurangzeb, was the first to possess this emerald.”

Paul Iribe Emerald, Sapphire, and Diamond sarpech (turban brooch) from Lucas Rarities.

Jewelers throughout history have incorporated Mughal emeralds in designs of their period.  (Left: Paul Iribe Art Deco Mughal Emerald Starburst Turban Brooch)

Double finger ring engraved with “Salam Allah” center emerald

The Paul Iribe pieces are a stunning sapphire and pearl turban brooch which dates back to 1911 and incorporates a large carved Mughal emerald, and a diamond starburst brooch that he designed in 1932.Paul Iribe was a pioneer of the Art Deco movement and introduced Art Deco to America in the early 1900s. He and Coco Chanel were collaborators in their personal and professional lives and each piece paints a very interesting story.

Left: A yellow gold ring set with one central cushion shaped emerald in a closed back rubover collet setting with an approximate weight of 3.50 carats, engraved “Salam Allah” in Arabic meaning “Peace to Allah” and with the Arabic date 1211, flanked by two Basra pearls in rubover collet settings, the settings and tapered double shanks engraved with intertwined scrolls in high relief.

The double banded ring originally appears to have been an ancient Roman form, a number of extant examples of which can be found in the British Museum, each also mounted with three gemstones. The tradition of engraving emeralds with Arabic inscriptions first emerges in the Indian subcontinent during the Mogul Empire (1526-1857). These successive courts obtained some of the largest and most important emeralds in the world, largely from Columbia, and engraved the stones with Arabic prayers, perhaps the most famous being the aptly named “Mogul Emerald” carved in 1695 and weighing 217.80 carats. Inscriptions of this type, conveniently, typically included a date. Gemstones engraved with Arabic inscriptions became more widely popular in the nineteenth century encouraged by the Western fashion for Indo-Saracenic design. George Frederic Kunz (1856-1932), prominent scholar and Chief Gemmologist at the American jewellery firm Tiffany & Co., is known to have worn an intaglio ring with Arabic engraving.


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