The latest exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum part of the India Festival sparkles and gleams while putting India’s history into context.
Featuring over 100 pieces from the Al Thani Collection, this exhibition is a comprehensive guide to the jewellery traditions of the Indian subcontinent and how it has developed over the years to be more accessible for ordinary people.
Stepping into this extraordinary treasure trove, visitors are immediately dazzled by the quality and craftsmanship that is evident in every single piece that has been selected to be displayed for this exhibition.
From rubies to emeralds, to brooches and necklaces Bejewelled Treasures covers it all in a very focused and well displayed exhibition that is equally fascinating to read about as it is to look at.
Everything on display from the collection marks a certain pride and status about jewellery making in India and it certainly something that comes through in every section of this carefully thought out exhibition.
Unfortunately, in terms of space if the exhibition gets busy then there isn’t much space for visitors to take the time to appreciate what they are seeing properly and it feels all rather too contained. This is particularly frustrating when you reach the end and realise how much space there is left over that could have been used effectively.
But despite this, the use of lighting and the way in which the pieces have been displayed really showcases the jewels to their best advantage and allowing them to take centre stage.
Some of the highlights of the exhibition include the Jewelled Bird from the Throne of Tipu Sultan, which dazzles in colour and beautiful detailing, the delicate turban ornament of the Maharaja of Nawanagar and a brooch designed by Paul Iribe and made by Robert Linzeler in 1910 which combines art deco with an antique Mughal carved emerald (see above).
Despite the glamour and sophistication on display, the exhibition feels relatively modest in terms of size and this in turn keeps Bejewelled Treasures a consistent and focused exhibition.
To sum it up, it is a simple, stylish and sophisticated exhibition that celebrates India’s skilled goldsmiths and jewellery makers.
Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection opens to the public at the Victoria and Albert Museum from the 21st November and runs until the 28th March 2016.