Incredible India… It really is…

22/10/2010

 

This past week has been spent visiting India and what a fabulous visit it has been. The focus of the visit was a wedding, attended by no fewer than six Royal persons, and involving four days of celebrations the like of which had to be seen to be imagined.

The Uncommon Client will not give in to the temptation rising within him to write a long and detailed travelogue… there are plenty of excellent travel bloggers out there and I firmly believe unless particular researches dictate to the contrary, other people’s journeys are never as interesting to the reader as they are to the storyteller. Unless you are Michael Palin of course (whom I once had the pleasure of meeting several years ago at Christies) in which case I could read/listen for hours.

The focus of this post is an upcoming acquisition, for the Client was introduced to a traditional Rajasthani jeweller who very kindly paid a visit to the palace in which we were staying. I kid you not – I have scarcely set foot on anything other than polished and inlaid marble for the best part of a week.

Opening a somewhat unpromising black nylon holdall the gentleman produced without fanfare several brightly coloured plastic bags, such as one might get from a magazine stand or convenience store. Within, folded brown paper parcels which could not have looked less interesting if they had had TOP SECRET stamped upon them (which alas they did not).

WITHIN… the most astonishing jewels – necklaces comprised of quails-egg sized emerald beads suspended from jewelled links upon woven silk ribbon, earrings cascading with rubies like drips of fresh cranberry and everywhere the beautiful glow of flat unfaceted diamonds. Enamelled and jewelled bangles and a cuff bracelet which would have made Elizabeth Taylor blush for the size of the stones.

Set in gold in the Kundan style, the 22+ Karat gold used is warmed by hand and then shaped around the gemstones using only the fingers and the most basic tools. These are exceptionally handcrafted pieces from the front, but the real magic appears when turned over, for the reverse of each jewel is intricately enamelled in colours more vivid and in designs more intricate than imagination permits.

The Client was reminded of an exhibition at the British Museum of this exact art form a few years ago. Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals showcased the highlights of the al-Sabah Collection, assembled over four decades by the son and daughter-in-law of the ruler of Kuwait. During the Iraq war the Collection was captured and despite being returned after the war was over, is now tragically missing some of its star pieces. Whilst the Kuwaiti National Museum is rebuilt, the objects have toured the world. Much as an exiled ruler might spend months at a time at Claridge’s or Le Bristol, so these objects of great beauty have made best use of the hospitality afforded them by the world’s best museums, the BM, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musee du Louvre in Paris and most recently earlier this year at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore.

Of course, not being a Mughal emperor the piece I shall be acquiring in a month or so’s time will be a little bit more modest. In a 21st century twist the sketches and options arrived by email from Jaipur this evening.  Much gazing and plotting will ensue.

More modest maybe, but nevertheless a real piece of stunning, traditional Rajasthani jewellery as a keepsake of a truly unforgettable visit, made just for me.

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One Response to “Incredible India… It really is…”


  1. No jewels could make Liz blush.

    Hopefully your jewel does not come in a plastic bag… perhaps a Goyard tote!


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