GOLD, TURQUOISE, PEARL AND ENAMEL NECKLACE, NORTH INDIA, PROBABLY JAIPUR OR DEHLI, CIRCA 1860
designed to one side as a series of stylised blossoms 'kundan' set with turquoises, each motif with seed pearl and enamel bead surmount and articulated pendant, a central larger pendant featuring facing birds similarly set, the other side decorated with 'meenakari' enamelling in red, green, blue and white, on a golden cord with tassel terminals, two seed pearls deficient, in its contemporary leather case with cream velvet and silk lining, underside gilt stamped 'HOWELL / JAMES & CO. / REGENT STREET'
length approximately 440mm to later bale clasp, 770mm to the start of the tassel terminals
Provenance: the Cecil family of Hatfield House, Marquesses of Salisbury. Within the Cecil family this piece was always called 'The Palmerston Necklace' since it was reputedly given by the 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865) to a member of the Cecil family; thence by descent until given by Lady David Cecil (née Rachel McCarthy, 1909-1982) to the present vendor in the mid sixties.
While most Indian jewellery favoured colourful stone combinations, the elegant and rare restraint of just turquoise and pearl to one side of this necklace probably indicates outside influence on the jeweller, perhaps a commission specifically for the British market. Although the use of the probably Persian mined turquoise to one side is unusual, the colourfully rich enamelling of the other side is typical of Mughal ornamentation. Comparable work is found on a hair ornament attributed to Delhi, circa 1850, published in S. Stronge, N. Smith and J.C. Harle, A Golden Treasury: Jewellery from the Indian Subcontinent, Exh. cat., Cartwright Hall, Bradford Art Galleries and Museums, 24 Sept.-27 Nov. 1988; Zamana Gallery, London, 13 April-25 June 1989, p.57.
Howell, James & Co. was a successful and innovative Victorian luxury goods retailer, dealing in a broad range of goods including haberdashery, jewellery and clocks. As well as showing at the International Exhibitions of the period, they mounted variously themed 'Exhibitions' at their premises. These exhibitions were perhaps forerunners of those held rather later by another famous retailer, Liberty's. It is possible Lord Palmerston may have purchased this necklace at an Indian themed exhibition held by Howell, James & Co. Located in Lower Regent Street, a visitor in 1865 described their main room as 'arranged in the best style of modern shop-building: the carpeted floor soft to the tread and pleasing to the eye; and around the room are arranged time-pieces of every variety and design, and counters glazed like ferneries, but containing white velvet cases in which repose jewels of every kind and value' (John Culme, The Directory of Gold & Silversmiths, Woodbridge, 1987, pp.241/2).
£4000 - 6000 Click here for details of BP and other fees payable on this lot.