This month, an auction in London will include an extraordinary collection of bejeweled glasses from India’s Mughal Empire, which dates back to the 17th century.
The two pairs of glasses, which have lenses cut from emeralds and diamonds, are valued at between $2.04 million (£1.5m) and $3.4 million (£2.5m) apiece, depending on their condition. They will be on display and available for bidding on Oct. 27 at the “Arts of the Islamic World and India” sale, which will be held at Sotheby’s in New York, the auction house said on Thursday according to BBC.
Each of the emerald lenses dubbed the “Gate of Paradise,” is estimated to weigh more than 300 carats and is thought to have been cut from a single emerald brought from the mines of Columbia, which are renowned for producing the highest quality gemstones.
For the same reason, it is thought that a single 200-carat diamond was cut into the diamond lenses known as the “Halo of Light” that was discovered in the Golconda mines in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
According to the auction company, the original diamond may have been the biggest diamond ever discovered globally.
In 1890, according to auction company Sotheby’s, the lenses were installed in the frames from the Mughal era of India.
They will be shown for the first time in Hong Kong and London in October, just before the sale.
According to Edward Gibbs, chairman of Sotheby’s Middle East and India, “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 glasses quite unlike anything ever seen before.”
Although it is unclear who commissioned these spectacles, they possibly belonged to the Mughals. This dynasty controlled the Indian subcontinent throughout the 16th and 17th centuries and was renowned for its creative and architectural accomplishments.
According to a statement released by Sotheby’s, “The quality and purity of the gemstones is extraordinary and stones of this size would no doubt have been the preserve of an emperor.”
The diamond lenses, which were split as a pair from a single natural diamond, are believed to have come from the Golconda diamond mines in southern India. The emeralds in the shape of teardrops are derived from a single genuine Colombian emerald.
“While ordinary lenses merely function to improve sight, these filters were aids for spiritual enlightenment—with diamonds thought to illuminate and emeralds believed to have held miraculous powers to heal and to ward off evil,” according to Sotheby’s.
“Natural History,” written by Pliny the Elder in the first century AD, is said to include the “most famous evocation” of such glasses in history and mythology. In it, Nero, the ancient Roman Emperor, is seen watching gladiatorial games through the surface of a beautiful green stone.
According to the statement, Nero’s instructor, Seneca, was a specialist in light refraction, mirrors, and optics. Those glasses were considered among the first-ever made, according to the statement.