Antique Jaipur bracelet: gold, ruby, spinel, diamond.
The darkened exhibition space was ablaze with the sparkle and fire from so many rubies, spinels, emeralds, pearls and diamonds that I was temporarily almost blinded. I found myself holding my breath. I certainly couldn’t speak! Around me, there was an almost stunned hush; photographers edged round quietly; conversations were muted. It was as if we were all overwhelmed by the magnificence of the jewels on display.
Star of Golconda brooch, Cartier, 2011: diamonds in platinum and white gold
I’ve never seen such huge stones. When I eventually pulled myself together and photographed some emerald rings, I had to ask someone to put her hand on the glass beside them to demonstrate their sheer size. They were absolutely enormous.
Parrot owned by the Nizams of Hyderabad, Jaipur
This magnificent collection, together with three superb pieces from the Royal collection, displays a hundred items ranging from an 18th century bejewelled gold tiger’s head finial from Sultan Tipu of Mysore’s throne; to the Maharaja of Nawanagar’s 20th century diamond-encrusted turban ornament; a number of jewelled daggers; and a selection of dazzling necklaces, bracelets, rings and brooches from both India and Europe.
The Age of Transition and Modernity sections show Western styles, particularly Art Deco where the more open settings allow light to shine through the cut stones, gradually influencing Indian jewellery design with some wonderful modern examples by Bhagat of Mumbai. In return, Western designers, like Cartier, re-interpreted traditional Indian forms and introduced startling new colour combinations, e.g. emeralds and sapphires. The final section, Contemporary Masters, highlights the continuing influence of traditional Indian jewellery and its reinterpretation in a modern idiom.
Turban jewel, Cartier, 2012: emerald carved in India
This exhibition has the Wow! factor in spades. Highly recommended for banishing those winter blues.
Photographs by Elizabeth HawksleyBejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection (21 November 2015 – 28 March 2016), sponsored by Wartski.’