Probably made in the Punjab in the first half of the 19th century, this is one of the court jewels seized by the British when they took control of the Treasury in Lahore in 1849. The most famous of these, including the Koh-i Noor Diamond, were given as gifts to Queen Victoria, with countless others sold by auctioneers Messrs Lattie Bros in the Lahore Fort over five days from November 28 to December 2, 1850.
Pieces from the Lahore Treasury hold a special value in the Sikh community. As the 17th wife of Maharajah Ranjit Singh (1780-1839) and mother and regent to the young Maharajah Duleep Singh, ‘Rani Jindan’ had been a thorn in the side of the East India Company. After waging both the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars of 1846-49 she fled to Nepal. She would not be reunited with her son, living the life of a Scottish laird at Castle Menzies in Perthshire, until 1861.
This chand-tikka, later mounted as a brooch, is one of many pieces that were boxed by Bombay jeweller Frazer & Hawes and sent to London for sale by Garrards after her death. The inside of the lid is inscribed From the Collection of the Court of Lahore formed by HH The Maharajah Runjeet Singh & lastly worn by Her Highness the Late Maharanee Jeudan Kower.
Two pieces of Indian jewellery in similar cases were sold at auction by Bonhams in 2018: a pair of gold pendant earrings (£140,000) and an emerald and seed pearl necklace (£150,000). The latest came from a vendor whose grandmother had bought it at Debenham and Coe in 1974. Offered with a guide of up to £120,000, it sold at £105,000.