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LONDON.- The earliest known example of Mughal jade; spectacularly large spinels inscribed with the names of emperors from the Mughal treasuries; a jewelled gold tiger’s head finial from the throne of the famed Tipu Sultan of Mysore and a dazzling brooch inspired by Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes made in Paris in 1910 are among the treasures on public display for the first time in the UK, as part of the V&A’s new exhibition Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection. 

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Gold finial from Tipu Sultan’s throne, 1790 – 1800. Mysore, South India. The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited, 2014. Photograph: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd.

The exhibition presents around 100 spectacular objects belonging to or inspired by the jewellery traditions of the Indian subcontinent, drawn from a single private collection, alongside three important loans from the Royal Collection generously lent by Her Majesty The Queen. The exhibition showcases magnificent precious stones evoking the royal treasuries of India, particularly that of the Mughal emperors in the 17th century, as well as exquisite objects used in court ceremonies. It reveals the influence of India on jewellery made by leading European houses in the early 20th century and displays contemporary pieces with an Indian theme made by modern masters.  

Highlights include magnificent unmounted precious stones including a Golconda diamond given in 1767 to Queen Charlotte by the Nawab of Arcot in South India, and Mughal jades, notably a jade-hilted dagger that belonged to the 17th-century emperor Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal. Other precious objects include pieces from the collections of the Nizams of Hyderabad; renowned jewels from the early 20th century by Cartier, including those made especially for the Paris 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, the exhibition that gave Art Deco its name; as well as traditional Indian jewels refashioned in the 1930s into European avant-garde styles by the elegant Europhile, Yeshwant Rao Holkar II, Maharaja of Indore, who was a close friend of the surrealist photographer Man Ray. There are also contemporary pieces made by JAR of Paris and Bhagat of Mumbai which combine Mughal inspiration and Art Deco influences.  

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'Arcot II’ diamond, 1760, Golconda, modified 1959 and 2011, India. The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited 2014. Photograph: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd  ©  Victoria and Albert Museum

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"Agra" Diamond, 16th century, Golconda. 28.15 carats. Cut-cornered, rectangular mixed-cut, fancy intense pink diamond. The Al-Thani Collection© 2000–2015 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Carved emerald bead, probably 18th century, Mughal Empire, The Al Thani Collection, © Servette Overseas Limited 2014. Photograph: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

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Taj Mahal Emerald. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Spinel and pearl necklace from the Mughal Empire. The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited 2014. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd 

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Dagger with jade hilt, Mughal Empire, c. 1629-36. The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited, 2014. Photograph: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

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Crutch Handle (zafar takiya), ca. 1650, North India. Jade, carved and inlaid with diamonds and agate.The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: ©Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Fly Whisk Holder (chauri), ca. 1700, North India. Jade, inlaid with gold wire and rubies. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Box (dibbi), 1740–80, North India. Jade, inlaid with gold wire, rubies, emeralds, and crystalThe Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Base of a Water Pipe (huqqa), 1740–80, North India, Mughal. Jade, inlaid with gold wire, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Jade crutch handle with precious stones set in gold, Mughal Empire, 18th century. The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited, 2014. (Photograph: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd)

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Huqqa Mouthpiece, 1750–1800,  North India. Jade, inlaid with gold, rubies, and emeralds. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Huqqa Mouthpiece, ca. 1800,  North India, Mughal. Jade, inlaid with gold, diamonds, rubies, and emeraldsThe Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: ©Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Pair of Falcon Anklets, ca. 1800, North India. Jade, inlaid with gold and rubies. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

The objects are drawn from the Al Thani collection which is notable for the quality and size of its precious stones, both unmounted and set in jewellery. These reflect India’s position over many centuries as an international market for precious stones, including diamonds from its famous Golconda mines, emeralds from South America, rubies from Burma, spinels from central Asia and sapphires from Sri Lanka. The Mughal emperors and their successors used objects made of luxury materials in their courts, and the exhibition highlights the sophisticated techniques used by goldsmiths in the Indian subcontinent to make them.  

The three major loans from the Royal Collection, lent by Her Majesty The Queen, are a jewelled bird from the gold canopy of Tipu Sultan’s throne, the ‘Timur Ruby’ and the Nabha spinel.  

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Bird of paradise (huma) from Tipu Sultan's throne, c.1787-91. Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2015 / Bridgeman Images

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The Timur Ruby Necklace, R. & S. Garrard & Co., Spinels, diamonds, gold, enamel, 50 cm long. The spinels from the Lahore Treasury, 1849. The Timur ruby, 352-carat. RCIN 100017. Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012

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The Nabha spinel, 1608-09. Spinel, seed pearls, gold thread, 25.8 x 1.7 x 2.4 cm, RCIN 11526. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

Martin Roth, Director of the V&A said: “This is a fascinating insight into a great private collection that includes extraordinary precious stones, both unmounted and set into jewels. The exquisite quality and craftsmanship of many fine pieces from and inspired by India complement the V&A’s own South Asian and jewellery collections. The exhibition is a spectacular element of the Museumwide India Festival this autumn.”  

Sheikh Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Thani said: “The jewelled arts of India have fascinated me from an early age and I have been fortunate to be able to assemble a meaningful collection that spans from the Mughal period to the present day."

Nicholas Snowman, Chairman of Wartski said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring this magnificent exhibition at the V&A in this, the 150th year of the foundation of our company. Wartski and the V&A have a long history of shared scholarship, loans and gifts. This happy association was cemented at the ‘Fabergé’ exhibition curated by my father, the firm’s chairman, Kenneth Snowman in 1977. Family connections with the V&A continued in 1988 when my wife, Margo Rouard-Snowman, cocurated ‘Avant Première’ and in 2002, when Geoffrey Munn, our Managing Director, presented the exhibition ‘Tiaras’.” 

The exhibition is arranged in sections exploring different elements of evolving styles and techniques. The Treasury evokes the royal storehouses of the Mughal emperors in the late 16th- and early 17th-century, which held precious stones of spectacular size. The Court showcases objects owned by famous rulers such as Shah Jahan, whose architectural commissions in the 17th century introduced a new decorative style which still influences Indian craftsmen to the present day. It also includes objects that would have been used in court ceremonies.  

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Pen Case and Inkwell (davat-i daulat), 16th or 17th century or later, Deccan or North India. Gold, inlaid with diamonds, rubies, and emeraldsThe Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Dagger (kard), North India, Mughal, 1620-50. Watered steel blade; jade hilt, inlaid with gold, rubies, and emeralds. Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: ©Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Locket Pendant, probably 17th century, North India. Gold, inlaid with rubies and emeraldsThe Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Flask, 1650–1700, North India. Rock crystal, inlaid with gold wire, rubies, and emeralds, with gold collar, stopper, and footThe Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Turban ornament (jigha), North India, Mughal, 1675-1750. Gold, set with spinel, diamonds, and rubies, with hanging emeralds; emerald on stem and reverse. Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates) 

 

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Rosewater Sprinkler (gulabpash), circa 17th century (base) and late 18th century (neck), with inlaid rubies, emeralds and pearls. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Turban Ornament (jigha), 1675–1725, North India or Deccan. Jade, inlaid with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds; with hanging pearl. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Punch Dagger (katar), ca. 1680–1720, North India. Watered steel blade; gold hilt, inlaid with rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Tipu Sultan’s Magic Box, 1780–90, South India, Mysore. Gold. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates) 

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Bird-Shaped Pendant, 18th century, North India or South India. Gold, inlaid with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, with hanging seed pearls; lac core. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Elephant-Shaped Turban Ornament (jigha), 1775–1825, South India. Gold, set with rubies, diamonds, emeralds. The Al-Thani Collection.(Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Ornament in the Shape of a Makara Head, 1775–1825, South India, Mysore or Tanjore. Gold; inlaid with diamonds, rubies, and yellow sapphire. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Bird-Shaped Ornament or Finial, 1775–1825, South India. Gold, inlaid with diamonds, rubies, and emerald, with hanging seed pearls; lac core. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Pair of Bangles (kada), ca. 1775–1825, North India, Jaipur. Gold, set with rubies, diamonds, and pearls; enamel on interior; lac core. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates

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Ritual Spoon (uddharane),  ca. 1800, South India. Gold, inlaid with diamonds and rubies. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Dagger with a Yali Hilt, ca. 1800, South India, Tanjore or Mysore. Steel blade; gold hilt, inlaid with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Bracelet, ca. 1800, North India, Jaipur. Gold; set with rubies and diamonds; enamel on reverse. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: ©Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Pair of Bracelets, 1800–25, India, Varanasi. Gold, set with diamonds, enamel on reverse. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Pair of Anklets, 1800–50, North India, Jaipur or Bikaner. Gold, set with white sapphires, with attached pearls and hanging glass beads; enamel on reverse. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

A section devoted to Kundan and Enamel explores the quality and appeal of the vivid colours of two fundamental Indian jewellery techniques. Kundan, meaning ‘pure gold’, is the uniquely Indian style of setting precious stones in gold ornaments. From Mughal times, enamelling was used, usually hidden from view on the back of ornaments set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and other precious stones. Newly commissioned films show both techniques which are still characteristic of traditional Indian jewellery today.  

The Age of Transition demonstrates the gradual influence of the West on Indian jewellery in the late 19th-and early 20th-centuries, particularly in Hyderabad under the Nizams. Open settings allowed light to shine through cut diamonds and emeralds, and European conventions appeared in traditional jewellery, such as a diamond-set platinum hair ornament designed to cover the long hair plait worn by many Indian women. 

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Turban Ornament (Sarpesh), South India, Hyderabad, 1800–50. Gold; set with diamonds and suspended spinel beads of earlier date. Enamel on reverse. H: 18.5 cm, W: 27.2 cm. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: ©Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Anklet (dastband almas), 1800–50, Hyderabad or Rajasthan, South or North India. Gold, set with diamonds. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: ©Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Upper-Arm Ornament (bazuband), 1800–1850, North India, Lahore or Jaipur. Gold, set with agate, diamonds, and enamel; enamel on reverse. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Turban Ornament (Sarpesh), 1825–75, North India, Jaipur. Gold, set with diamonds; enamel on reverse. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: ©Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Necklace (kanthi), circa 1850-75, made of gold set with diamonds and emerald. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Necklace (kanthi), 1850–1900, probably Hyderabad? Gold; set with emeralds; silver, set with diamonds; with pearls and string. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Necklace (kanthi), 1850–1900, probably Hyderabad? Gold; set with emeralds; silver, set with diamonds; with pearls and string. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Turban Ornament (Sarpesh), 1875–1900, North India. Gold, set with diamonds, rubies, spinels. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Seal ring with hidden key. South India, Hyderabad, 1884-85. Gold, set with spinel. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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The Nizam of Hyderabad Ceremonial Sword with jewelled gold hilt, Hyderabad, South India, c. 1880-1900The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited, 2014. Photograph: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

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Silk sword sash with jewelled gold fittings, India, c.1900The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited, 2014. (Photograph: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd)

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Jeweled Crown, ca. 1900, Nepal. Pearls, colored glass, diamonds, emeralds, and rubies, with gold brocade ribs and bird of paradise plumes; interior lined with red cloth. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: ©Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Turban ornament (sarpesh). South India, probably Hyderabad, ca. 1900. Gold, set with emeralds and diamonds. The Al-Thani Collection.(Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Pair of Earrings (pankhiyan), ca. 1900. Gold, set with with diamonds, with pearls and glass beads. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Forehead or Turban Ornament (tika), ca. 1900, North India, Punjab. Gold, set with emeralds and diamonds, with attached pearls; enamel on reverseThe Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Gold and diamond hair ornamenta, about 1900, Western India, The Al Thani Collection, © Servette Overseas Limited 2014. Photograph: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd 

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Nose Ring (nath), 1925–50, Western India. Gold, with diamonds, seed pearls, and rubies. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Nose Ring (nath), 1925–50, Western India. Gold, with diamonds, seed pearls, and emeralds. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

Modernity introduces the transforming influence of India on jewellery design in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. The house of Cartier, and individuals such as the Parisian designer Paul Iribe, reinterpreted traditional Indian forms in Art Deco style, and set Indian-cut emeralds next to sapphires in a startling new colour combination. The final section Contemporary Masters highlights the continuing influence of traditional Indian jewellery reinterpreted in completely modern idioms. The work of Paris-based JAR echoes Mughal architectural features, while Bhagat of Mumbai selects old-cut diamonds or sapphires as the centrepiece of new designs which often show the influence of Art Deco inspired by India.

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Ornament, Aigrette, Paul Iribe, Turban ornament with carved emerald of platinum, with a large hexagonal carved Indian emerald from 1850–1900, with millegrain-set diamonds and channel-set calibrécut sapphires. The Al Thani Collection ©  Victoria and Albert Museum

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Peacok Brooch, Mellerio dits Meller, 1901, gold, diamonds, email. The Al Thani Collection

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Turban Ornament (jigha) of the Maharaja of Nawanagar, circa 1907 and remodeled in 1935. White gold, set with diamonds, with modern feather plume. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Turban Ornament or Brooch of the Maharaja of Nawanagar, circa 1920. Platinum, set with sapphire and diamonds. The Al-Thani Collection.(Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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A brooch featuring a carved emerald bordered by calibré-cut emerald and sapphire in a stylized platinum setting by Cartier, circa 1920. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Belt Brooch by Cartier, circa 1920-30. Platinum, set with emeralds, sapphires and diamonds. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Shoulder Brooch by Cartier, circa 1924. Pendant tassel re-created from original records by Cartier workshops, Paris, 2012. Brooch, platinum, set with emeralds, diamonds, enamel and gold; tassel: pearls and onyx beads. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Brooch with Carved Emeralds and Diamonds by Cartier, circa 1925, modified by Cartier in 1927. Platinum, set with emeralds, diamonds and enamel. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Brooch by Cartier, circa 1930, with mounts circa 1650-1750. Jade, inlaid with rubies, emeralds and diamonds. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: ©Prudence Cuming Associates)

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The Patiala Ruby Choker by Cartier, circa 1931, restored and restrung to the original design by Cartier Tradition, Geneva, 2012. Rubies, diamonds and pearls with platinum mounts. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: ©Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Turban Ornament or Brooch, ca. 1935, probably France. Platinum, set with rubies and diamonds. The Al-Thani Collection (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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"Idol's Eye" Diamond with Harry Winston Necklace. Diamond: early 17th century, Necklace: mid 20th century. Antique triangular modified brilliant-cut light blue diamond, 70.21 carats. The Al-Thani Collection © 2000–2015 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

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Aigrette by Cartier, 2012, Platinum, set with emeralds and diamonds. The Al-Thani Collection (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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“Star of Golconda” Diamond Brooch by Cartier, 2013. Platinum, set with diamonds. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Jabot or Cliquet Brooch by JAR, 2013. Silver and gold, set with emeralds, diamonds, pearls and rubies. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo:© Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Brooch by JAR, 2002. Gold, set with emerald, diamonds, rubies, rock crystal and white agate. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)

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Pendant Brooch by Bhagat, 2011. Platinum, set with diamonds and rubies, with diamond and ruby beads. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: ©Prudence Cuming Associates) 

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Pair of Bangles (kada) by Bhagat, 2012. Platinum, set with diamonds and pearls. The Al-Thani Collection. (Photo: © Prudence Cuming Associates)