In a small honeycomb gallery in the V&A lie twinkling gems from the days of the Indian Mughal emperors in the 17th century. Designed to look like the inside of a jewellery box, the exhibition is a glittery delight, with gems like the peacock brooch (pic, on left) which was bought by Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala on his way to Spain, where he fell in love with a beautiful 16 year old dancer, Anita Delgado. He gave the brooch to her and they married in Paris.
The exhibition twinkles with around 100 spectacular objects belonging to, or inspired by, the jewellery traditions of India, from the days of the Mughal emperors to more contemporary designs. On your way through spot the intricate enamelling on the backs of the turban brooches. Also, there is a really good film which is worth watching while you have a sit down. One of the objects on show is this spinel necklace (pic left). Mughal emperors of the 16th and 17th centuries valued spinels, red stones mined in Badakhshan in central Asia, more than any other precious stone and considered them metaphors of the divine and sublime in art.
Mughal specialist and curator Susan Stronge says the show also highlights how the jewellery is made: “The two quintessential jewellery techniques of traditional of gold Indian jewellery is the kundan setting, the soft gold used to secure the stones, and the enamel backs. Enamelling is one of the great arts of the Indian subcontinent.” Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection is on from now to 28th March, entry £10. vam