Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection at the V&A

Last week we visited the V&A’s incredible and dazzling display of jewels from the Al Thani Collection. ‘Bejewelled Treasures’ had a remarkable number of jewels, jewelled artefacts and jades on display from as early as the 17th Century right through to the present day.

All of the items on display were either made in India or inspired by Indian designs, a cultural reference we found particularly inspiring given our recent trips to India.

Among the treasures were precious stones and jades originally made for Mughal emperors, gold embellishments from the throne of Tipu Sultan and modern pieces made by Cartier. The dazzling item below is a turban ornament, we loved the purity in its crystal white colouring, the vibrant white feathers help to illuminate the diamond's shimmering clarity.

India’s history with precious stones dates back to ancient times; diamonds were first discovered in India in the 4th Century BC. Rubies and sapphires were later discovered in Burma and Sri Lanka and their sizes and colour would remain unrivalled. The East would become the centre of the precious stone trade, with an enduring European market enticed by this history and quality.

Curator Susan Stronge said ‘The stories embedded in jewellery are what makes it so interesting’, remarking that what makes this exhibition stand-out, is the way these jewels highlight the exchange and influences between India and Europe. We enjoyed seeing the more modern pieces and how Cartier and designers from the 20s explored Eastern traditions to help formulate their embellished art deco style.