This autumn the V&A will present a series of exhibitions, displays and events that will explore the rich and varied culture of South Asia. As a part of the Victoria and Albert Museum's India Festival, the exhibition "Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection" will open its doors on 21st November. The exhibition will introduce spectacular objects from a single private collection and will explore broad themes of tradition in Indian jewellery. Highlights will include famous diamonds, jewels from leading European jewellery houses and carved gemstones, so popular in Indian jewellery.
The particularly interesting objects are magnificent unmounted precious stones that evoke the legendary treasury of the great Mughals. The remarkable diamond in the "Al Thani Collection" is the "Arcot II" (also known as "Golconda"), a brilliant-cut, pear shaped D colour, internally flawless type IIa diamond with the weight of 17.20 carats.
At Berganza we are proud to possess a Golconda type IIa cushion shape old mine diamond with an approximate weight of 3.58 carats, set in a platinum ring, circa 1905, reference 17160. Golconda type IIa diamonds are extremely rare and famous for the extreme purity matched by sparkling whiteness and superior transparency, they could be described as "water or a river going through the gem." This type was first identified as coming out of India, namely the Golconda region. Some of the most famous diamonds in the world are type IIa, including the Koh-i-noor and the Cullinan I.
The V&A exhibition will also include enamel jewels. The enamel technique seems to have been introduced to India from Europe in the late 16th century, and was quickly mastered and transformed by the Mughal goldsmiths. In jewellery, flowers of translucent red and green enamel are set against yellow gold. The floral style and the colour scheme gradually spread to workshops across the provinces of the empire. At Berganza we are lucky enough to have an early Jaipur enamel and old mine diamond ring, ref. 19588, a horizontally set oval glass and green enamel cabochon, flanked by two old mine diamonds with enamel work throughout the shank and an intricate red enamel bird motif to the central bezel and decorative surround. At this time the world's only source of diamonds was in India, and the diamonds in this ring would have come from the famous old Golconda diamond mines.
Other loans from the Al Thani Collection will include several large and significant carved emeralds from Colombia of the size and quality that reached the Mughal court. Traditionally gemstones including rubies and emeralds were carved in the shape of flowers, leaves and other colourful accents. If you have a vivid interest in carved gemstones, we have a unique selection of vintage rings in our store, reference 19913 and 16957. We are proud to say that all our gemstones are natural with no colour enhancement.
The exhibition will also examine the influence that India had on the avant-garde European jewellery maker Cartier and other leading houses. The Indian jewellery that became so popular at the opening of the twentieth century was an inspiration to the jewellers of the 1920s both stylistically and chromatically. Please may we bring to your attention our extremely rare watch by Cartier, set with rubies, circa 1941, reference 18786; sophisticated Art Deco natural Burmese ruby and diamond ring, circa 1935, reference 18873; an intricate ruby and diamond cluster ring, circa 1920, reference 16865; and antique diamond and ruby heart shape cluster ring, circa 1900, reference 20174. All these magnificent items are unique, set with natural unenhanced rubies and can be found at Berganza.We hope you'll enjoy the "V&A" exhibition this November and if you would like to purchase something as unusual and rare as the museum's jewels, please visit Berganza store, our highly knowledgeable and dedicated specialists will be delighted to introduce our unique collection of hand selected jewellery.