Sotheby’s upcoming Arts of the Islamic World and India auction (27 October) to offer a pair of unrecorded Mughal emerald and diamond spectacles. The diamond pair named the Halo of Light, and the emerald pair named the Gate of Paradise have remained in the same collection for almost half a century, and are currently exhibited for the first time in Hong Kong (7-11 October) before heading to London (22-26 October). The spectacles will be offered at auction for £1.5m-2.5m ($2m-$3.4m) each.
The spectacles were commissioned by an unknown prince during the Mughal era in India (17th century), which includes the reigns of emperors such as Shah Jahan, known best today for building the Taj Mahal in honor of his dead wife. The original patron for whom these extraordinary objects were commissioned remains unknown.
Gate of Paradise features two emerald lenses cut from a single gem hailing from Colombia, and Halo of Light’s teardrop-shaped emeralds also originate from a single natural Colombian emerald. The bevelling of the emeralds has been precisely angled to hold the intensity of the color in the stone. The two lenses together weigh about 25 carats alone. Framing both lenses are rose-cut diamonds, which were added in the 1890s. Both sets of glasses were held by a princely Indian family until the 1980s. After that they were sold to European buyers.
These extraordinary curiosities bring together myriad threads – from the technical mastery of the cutter and the genius of craftsmanship to the vision of a patron who chose to fashion two pairs of eyeglasses quite unlike anything ever seen before. They are undoubtedly a marvel for gemologists and historians alike, and it is a real thrill to be able to bring these treasures to light and to offer the world the opportunity to wonder at their brilliance and the mystery behind their creation. – Edward Gibbs, Chairman of Sotheby’s Middle East & India
These precious lenses were given magical powers – with diamonds thought to illuminate the evil and emeralds believed to have held miraculous powers to heal and to ward off evil.