Feb 7th, 2013
The Indore Pears were two almost identical, E VVS2 pear-shaped diamonds, originally weighing 46.95 carat and 46.70 carat respectively (Harry Winston re-cut them to 46.39 and 44.14 carat- more about that later). They were set as a pair of earrings, belonging to the Maharajah of Indore and worn by his Queen consort the Maharani. The early history of the two diamonds is unknown, but the color and clarity of the diamonds appear to be characteristic of the renowned Kollur mines in Golconda, India
Indore was one of the Princely States of the Maratha Confederacy, ruled by the Holkar dynasty. The other three Maratha Princely States, being Gwalior, Nagpur, and Baroda, ruled respectively by the Sindhia, Bhonsle, and Gaekwar dynasties. The year of founding the four dynasties were as follows :-
Tukoji Rao III, was the Maharajah of Indore at the beginning of the 20th century. The Prince had many concubines in his palace and one of his favorites was Mumtaz Begum, a Muslim dancing girl at his court. the Prince gave special attention to Mumtaz Begum, but she did not reciprocate his feelings. One day, while the entourage of the Maharajah was traveling in his private train, the girl jumped off the train and escaped to Amritsar. She eventually came back to Bombay, where she came under the protection of a rich merchant, probably as his mistress.
While in Bombay, one evening in January of 1925, Mumtaz Begum was in a car with a friend, driven by an official of the Bombay Municipal Corporation. The car was moving along the ridge of the Malabar Hill Hanging Gardens of Bombay, a famous leisure park, that was crowded with people that evening. Suddenly a group of armed men attacked the car. The official was killed and the other two occupants were seriously injured. Four British officers who happened to pass by at that crucial moment, rushed to the aid of the victims, and were able to detain one assailant. The Indian Press gave wide coverage to the murder, and reported that evidence gathered by the police, indicated that the motive for the crime was not robbery, but rather revenge or an attempt at abduction. The Times of India reported that the Bombay police were offering a cash reward of 10,000 rupees for any information, that may lead to the arrest of the criminal gang, but added that the organization behind the gang were so rich, powerful and unscrupulous, that they could offer even greater inducements for potential informants to remain silent.
Mumtaz Begum who recovered from her injuries, said in a statement made to the Bombay Police, that she recognized one of the assailants as an aide-de-camp of the Maharajah of Indore, and others as members of the Indore army and mounted police. The British colonial authorities took a serious view of the implication of the Maharajah in the dastardly crime, and gave him two option; either to appear at the subsequent official inquiry or abdicate in favor of his son. The Maharajah chose the second option and abdicated in 1926.
After his abdication, Tukoji Rao, temporarily re-settled in Europe, and one day as he was traveling in Switzerland, he met a rich young American lady, by the name of Nancy Anne Miller. They fell in love and got married in 1928. Much publicity was given to this marriage, by both the Indian Press and the International Press. Nancy Anne embraced Hinduism, the religion of the ex-Maharajah, and came to be known as Maharani Shamista Devi Holkar.
The Indore Pears diamonds were presented to Maharani Shamista Devi by the ex-Maharajah, and she had worn the diamond on many occasions. However in 1946, just one year before the abolition of the Princely States, the ex-Maharajah decided to sell the famous diamonds, and was purchased by the New York diamond dealer, none other than Harry Winston. The first thing Mr. Winston did, was to get the stones re-cut, to bring out their brilliance, and the new weights of the stones were 46.39 and 44.14 carat.
The pair of diamonds were later exhibited at the famous court of jewels exhibition, that toured the United States, and organized by Harry Winston, which also featured the Hope diamond. Harry Winston sold the Indore Pears in 1953, to a customer from Philadelphia, and re-purchased them five years later in 1958. He then sold the Indore Pears to another customer from New York. He again re-purchased the stones in 1976 and later sold them to a member of an unspecified royal family. The stones later featured at two different auctions conducted by Christie’s of Geneva in November 1980 and later in November 1987.