……sometimes it’s rubies, or sapphires or emeralds or pearls. Or it certainly is at the gloriously glittery ‘Bejewelled Treasures’ exhibition at The Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington.
Bejewelled Treasures is a treasure trove (literally) of jewels, jewelled artefacts and jades all from the Al Thani Collection. All the pieces were were made in the Indian subcontinent or inspired by India dating from the early 17th century to the present day.
For a magpie such as myself who cannot resist a sparkle or a liberal sprinkling of glitter this exhibition was an absolute treat. Here was some serious bling. From broaches to bracelets and everything else in between.
Entering the exhibition you are greeted by this wonderful turban ornament, just a hint of whats to come.
I had never seen the Agra diamond before, and didn’t even know what it was. For the uninitiated such as myself it is the most glorious rose pink hued diamond. This picture can’t begin to capture the purity and beauty of it. There was a thick glass cabinet between me and it, but how I would have loved to stroke its shiny hard edges.
Thickly set bejewelled bracelets, Rubies the size of a childs fist and diamond encrusted swords and daggers. Heavy turban jewels and an array of diamond encrusted hair ornaments like the peacock broach featured in the picture above. This was bought by Jagatjit Singh the Maharaja of Kapurthala. He bought it on his way to Spain where he met and fell in love with a 16 year old flamenco dancer called Anita Delgado. Bounteous clusters of pearls, glass and emeralds formed earings that hung like waterfalls along side slightly more subtle hoops of diamonds and pearls.
Amongst all these sparkling baubles were a set of fabulous black and white photos of maharajas and their families bedecked in jewels. Lots of serious little faces of children and their families from another world. Never has dripping in jewels been a more fitting description.
These are jewels that most people would never have the opportunity to wear but this exhibition is a lovely way to imagine that you might. So, if you happen to be in London and you like a bit of sparkle this might just be for you.
Images all Victoria & Albert Museum