Diamonds, rubies & emeralds the size of ice-cubes right here in London! Enjoy this colourful curation of nature's true wonders with the Al Thani collection of Mughal jewels at the V&A museum.
Stepping into this decadent exhibition surrounded by the opulent history behind the jewellery it is easy to imagine the Moghul emperors & their court sitting in extravagant robes on breezy verandas of majestic palaces simply being fabulous.
And there is truly fabulous craftsmanship & skill behind each & every design; with diamond briolettes dripping from head-pieces, like snowdrops melting & intricate engravings on the plum-sized rubies, to mark which majestic ruler owned the gemstone. Visiting the exhibition with an experienced British silversmith who creates beautiful one off creations, we both found our jewellery heads craning and getting as close to the displays as we could with out physically squashing our noses up to them. We couldn't curb our curiosity while trying to understand how these exemplary pieces were fabricated.
These glimpses of pomp & grandeur are intriguing, gradually taking us back to an era where men took pride in being decorated with jewels as a symbol of their status & heritage. In the 16th & 17th centuries a glorious moustache was often styled beautifully with layered pearl string necklaces & emerald studded turban brooches. Without realising we had begun to play the game - imagine the size of the turban based on the size of the mesmerising ornament we were oogling.
There were stories behind many of these delightful gems, one that tickled us a little was Anita Delgado's brooch from the early 1900's. As the fifth wife of a Raja she noticed a stunning cresent-shaped emerald decorating the forehead of one of the royal elephants. Her husband said she could only have this jewel as a 19th birthday present if she learned Urdu. Luckily she did win it over from the elephant and subsequently wore the jewel as a brooch or necklace.
Between the intricately bejewelled animal statues once part of the grand thrones of the Mughal kings & sword handles set with diamonds & emeralds we couldn't help but fall slightly in love with this over-the-top style & show of wealth & wonder. Finally bringing us back down to earth were two short films explaining some of the key techniques used when making these masterpieces. It is fascinating that these hundreds of year old techniques are still used in ethnic diamond jewellery making across India today.
For a rich cultural experience & to enjoy a sense of pure wonderment, take time to visit the Al Thani exhibition of mesmerising jewels at the Victoria & Albert museum until the 28th March 2016