The case for the piece includes a brass plaque reading: This emerald is engraved in Persian with the following words: cream of the pillars of the state, Queen and music of the age, Mary Frederica c, noblest of women, Princess, child of the Majesty of Mahommed Akbar, the Emperor, the Warrior, 1813.
While the translation of five lines of nasta’liq may be a little shaky, it accurately hints at the extraordinary life of heiress, adventurer – and last chief of clan Mackenzie – Lady Hood (1783-1862).
She had travelled the subcontinent (often by palanquin) after 1811 when her husband Admiral Sir Samuel Hood was appointed commander-in-chief of the East Indies.
Popular in the upper echelons of Anglo-Indian society, she acquired a taste for smoking the hookah and became the first British woman to shoot a tiger.
The octagonal-cut Colombian emerald was inherited by her youngest daughter, Louisa Baring, Lady Ashburton (1827-1903), and later mounted by Bloomsbury jeweller Hennell as a modish Mughal-inspired Art Deco jewel for her granddaughter c.1925. It has since passed down through the female line of the family to the vendor.
Offered for sale at Bonhams Bond Street on September 24 with an estimate of £40,000-60,000, it sold at £120,000 (plus buyer’s premium).