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Beyond Extravagance, A Royal Collection of Gems and Jewels

Friday, August 9, 2013/ Editor -  


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This November, Assouline Publishing presents Beyond Extravagance: A Royal Collection of Gems & Jewels, a book exploring the unique tradition of Indian jewellery based on a private Al-Thani collection.

Edited by Dr Amin Jaffer, International Director of Asian Art, Christie's, with essays by world-renowned jewellery specialists and scholars, this 416-page book presents a journey through the history of Indian jewellery reflected in a magnificent private collection. The publication will be launched internationally: New York (4th November, Frick Collection), London (12th November, V&A) and Paris (27th November).

Beyond Extravagance will present the diverse tradition of Indian jewellery through pieces that span over four hundred years. Featuring outstanding Golconda diamonds, Kashmir sapphires, Burmese rubies and Colombian emeralds, the collection has been assembled with a passion for gems and a love of Indian craftsmanship.

Each piece sheds light on a distinct era and the evolution of style and technique in court jewellery from the peak of the Mughal Imperial patronage to the rich commissions of Maharajas under the British Raj, the celebrated Indian commissions of Cartier to the inventive creations of the 21st century.

A truly collaborative project, this publication benefits from the scholarship of a celebrated team of contributors. Chapters on Mughal jewellery have been written by Dr Robert Skelton, a leading figure in the field and former keeper of the Indian Department at the V&A, and Michael Spink, who bring a breadth of experience and an acute understanding of the technique and technology of Indian jewellery production. Dr Jack Ogden, a renowned gemmologist and gem historian has written on the use of precious stones in Indian jewellery, while Dr Katherine Prior, co-author of Maharajas' Jewels, and Judy Rudoe, curator of the 1997 Cartier exhibition at the British Museum, have explored the encounter between Indian jewellery and the West. Vivienne Becker adds meaning and relevance to the contemporary pieces in the collection.

Key pieces from the collection include a carved jade dagger owned by Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal; a group of Imperial Mughal spinels; a collection of enamelled objects from Hyderabad, the Arcot II diamond and Taj Mahal Emerald, a choker made by Cartier for the Maharaja of Patiala, as well as contemporary creations by JAR and Bhagat using historic Indian stones.

Editor Amin Jaffer believes that Beyond Extravagance: A Royal Collection of Gems & Jewels will ‘awaken a new understanding of the subject, please the eye and inspire a love of Indian Jewellery today among future generations'.

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