Mi­nal Vazi­rani

co- founder of Saf­fronart

Solitaire - - SPOTLIGHT -

The con­fer­ence was widely at­tended by par­tic­i­pants from around Asia, and was a re­sound­ing suc­cess. The speak­ers in­vited shared their per­spec­tives and el­e­vated the con­fer­ence to a fo­rum that en­cour­aged an ex­change of ideas around In­dia be­ing the ori­gin for im­por­tant jew­ellery tech­niques. At­ten­dees had ac­cess to per­spec­tives which can­not be found any­where else. The con­fer­ence has sur­passed all ex­pec­ta­tions and truly raised the bench­mark for what can be achieved through such events.

the largest di­a­mond in In­dia’s crown, by Usha Balakr­ish­nan and John Zubrzy­cki. The talks shed light on the mys­te­ri­ous mer­chant who sold the di­a­mond to the 6th Nizam of Hy­der­abad, with en­thralling anec­dotes and im­agery. “Ja­cob, once de­scribed as one of the most ro­man­tic and ar­rest­ing fig­ures of our time, was In­dia’s most suc­cess­ful pur­veyor of pre­cious stones and was ru­moured to be rich al­most be­yond the dreams of Aladdin, noted Zubrzy­cki.”

Francesca Cartier Brick­ell of the Cartier fam­ily shared sto­ries from the un­pub­lished let­ters and di­aries of her great-grand­fa­ther, Jacques Cartier. She gave a per­sonal glimpse into Jacques’ role in bring­ing Cartier to in­ter­na­tional fame and spoke of the jew­els de­signed for ma­hara­jas and royal clients, and the re­cip­ro­cal in­ter­est of the West in In­dian de­signs, such as Cartier’s fa­mous Tutti Frutti style.

“It’s a nanoscopic range of jew­els from around the world that I’d like to have in my trea­suries, cho­sen for taste, cul­ture and artis­tic skill,” said Usha Balakr­ish­nan as she set the stage for draw­ing ref­er­ences to jew­ellery from his­tory, mythol­ogy, lit­er­a­ture and art. Fa­mous In­dian pain­ter An­jan Chakraverty brought the dy­ing art of Be­narasi enam­elling to the lime­light, high­light­ing the an­cient city of Be­naras as a cru­cible of in­spi­ra­tion for tex­tiles and jew­ellery alike. Derek Con­tent traced the his­tory of un­cut di­a­monds, and showed ex­am­ples of an­cient jew­els set with un­cut gem­stones. Tom Moses of the GIA, who has han­dled some of the most fa­mous di­a­monds in the world, in­clud­ing the Hope Di­a­mond, and Pramod Ku­mar K G of Éka Archiv­ing Ser­vices, steered the dis­cus­sion to­wards the Gol­conda re­gion, famed for its peer­less di­a­monds.

Lisa Hubbard, a veteran auc­tion­eer who is cur­rently a se­nior ad­vi­sor to Christie’s jew­ellery depart­ment, ini­ti­ated an en­gag­ing and pow­er­ful dis­cus­sion on what makes some jew­ellery more im­por­tant than oth­ers. Re­fer­ring to cas­cad­ing neck­laces, tiaras and im­por­tant coloured di­a­monds, she drew ref­er­ences to pieces that set records at auc­tions, such as Cartier’s Pan­ther Jewel—

“It was and is a marvel of a jew­eller’s art,”— and the Blue Moon of Josephine, a vivid blue di­a­mond that sold at a record $48 mil­lion at an auc­tion in 2015. “The trick is to know what to look for.”

Tak­ing au­di­ences into the op­u­lence of the Mughal era, Su­san Stronge of the V&A Mu­seum in Lon­don tapped into the mu­seum’s own col­lec­tion of Mughal minia­ture paint­ings and jew­ellery. Salam Kaoukji, cu­ra­tor of the al- Sabah Col­lec­tion in Kuwait, drew at­ten­tion to the art of gem-set­ting in In­dian weaponry. Kaoukji used ar­rest­ing vi­su­als of pieces from the col­lec­tion of Sheikh Nasser al- Sabah. Each was in­com­pa­ra­ble in de­sign and beauty.

In the fi­nal ses­sion, François Ar­pels en­gaged the au­di­ence with hall­mark jew­ellery pieces de­signed by Van Cleef & Ar­pels, and ex­plored In­dia’s role as a source of in­spi­ra­tion. Ma­ha­rani Rad­hikaraje Gaek­wad brought the con­fer­ence to a close with a royal touch. Shar­ing im­ages of the Royal Fam­ily of Bar­oda, some of which had never been seen be­fore, she spoke of the un­par­al­leled col­lec­tion of jew­els ac­quired by her an­ces­tors. “We have both the priv­i­lege and re­spon­si­bil­ity of keep­ing the legacy of the Gaek­wads alive.” Fol­low­ing the con­fer­ence Ma­ha­rani Rad­hikaraje Gaek­wad com­mented: “Saf­fronart’s sem­i­nal Time­less Legacy of In­dian Jew­els was a con­gre­ga­tion of some of the most distin­guished names in the field and I found both im­mense hon­our and il­lu­mi­na­tion be­ing amidst them. The sub­jects were var­ied and in­sight­ful and the speak­ers most en­gag­ing.”

The con­fer­ence broke new ground on dis­cus­sions around art, aes­thet­ics and jew­ellery de­sign, link­ing them back to In­dia’s 5,000-year legacy.

Enam­elled box. Im­age cour­tesy Saf­fronart.

Ruby and di­a­mond pacheli ban­gles. Im­age cour­tesy Saf­fronart.

Pe­riod Jadau Neck­lace. Pe­riod jadau neck­lace (with enam­elling on re­verse). Im­age cour­tesy Saf­fronart

Pe­riod emer­ald and spinel kalgi. Im­age cour­tesy Saf­fronart

MA­HA­RANI RAD­HIKA RAJE GAEK­WAD

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