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Maharani of Baroda reveals secrets of Gaekwad family's jewellery collection

India Today logo India Today 20-10-2018

Radhikaraje Gaekwad, the maharani of Baroda, revealed how the royal Gaekwad family established a collection of precious jewellery over a few centuries.

Radhikaraje Gaekwad, who was speaking at the Robb Report Limited Edition 2018 summit in New Delhi, revealed that the Gaekwad family began its collection during the 1700s.

The maharani of Baroda underlined the importance of her address at the summit by noting that this was perhaps the first time that somebody from a royal family was talking about and cataloguing its collections.

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The first artefacts to become a part of the Gaekwad treasury were spoils of victory in battles against the Mughals. During that time, several jewellers and gem cutters sought the patronage of the Gaekwad court and brought Mughal influences to Baroda, now Vadodara, Radhikaraje Gaekwad said.

"[The Mughal] emperors were gone but their tastes and treasures lingered on," Gaekwad said.

The Gaekwad treasury truly grew to legendary proportions under Khanderao II Gaekwad, who became the Maharaja of Baroda in the mid 1850s and ruled for over two decades.

Khanderao was considered to be one of the most notable jewellery collectors of the 19th century, Radhikaraje Gaekwad said today. Over a period of 14 years, Khanderao "acquired an unparalleled collection of jewels."

(Video provided by Cityline)


Apart from acquiring gems and jewels locally within India, Khanderao also collaborated with international gem dealers and acquired important stones, Radhikaraje Gaekwad said.

Khanderao enchanced the Gaekwad treasury to "legendary proportions" and acquired various diamonds, including onebigger than the famed Kohinoor.

Later, during a short question-and-answer session with Nonita Kalra, the editor of Harper's Bazaar India, Radhikaraje Gaekwad revealed an interesting piece of information about the Gaekwad jewels.

"There is a story that some very previous pearls were buried by one of the maharanis [of the Gaekwad] family in my estate," Radhikaraje Gaekwad said, referring to Vadodara's Laxmi Vilas Palace, which she noted, is the largest private residence in the country.

"I don't know why she [the maharani in question] would do that, but I might soon start looking for them," Radhikaraje Gaekwad said.

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