Did you know that the 5th largest diamond in the world sits quietly in the vault of the RBI? Known as the Jacob diamond, it was bought by the 6th Nizam of Hyderabad in 1981. The diamond was sold by a dealer named Alexander Malcolm Jacob, a man rumoured to be ‘rich almost beyond the dreams of Aladdin’. The story of the Jacob Diamond is just one of the many mysteries uncovered at ‘The Timeless Legacy of Indian Jewels’, the first annual Dialogues in Art conference that was held in Mumbai from 6-8 October, 2017.
Presented by Saffronart in association with SD Corp (a joint venture between Shapoorji Pallonji and the Dilip Thacker Group), the symposium explored the rich and varied history and tradition of jewellery in the context of art, literature, culture, and fashion in India and globally. Curated by Usha Balakrishnan, illustrious jewellery historian and respected author, the event featured guest speakers from around the world, including luminaries such as Francesca Cartier Brickell, the great grand-daughter of Jean-Jacques Cartier, Maharani Radhikaraje Gaekwad from the princely family of Wankaner, Gujarat and Tom Moses, Executive Vice President and Chief Laboratory and Research Officer, GIA.
By invitation only, the symposium was attended by collectors, academics, curators, trade professionals, and those with a passion for art, and a love for jewellery. The symposium was held at SD Corp’s Imperial Edge, a landmark structure in the heart of South Mumbai that epitomises the grace and timeless elegance of Indian Jewels.
The conference brought together professionals and academics with the aim to initiate a discussion around the history and practice of designing, creating and documenting jewellery from the subcontinent. The keynote address on the 6th of October, featured a scintillating discussion on the Jacob Diamond between conference curator, Usha Balakrishnan and writer journalist, John Zubrzycki. The talk traced the diamond’s fascinating journey through history as well as the life of the man responsible for bringing it to India.
This was followed by a talk by Francesca Cartier on Cartier’s India Connection: Maharajas and the Tutti Frutti Jewels Seen from a Family Perspective. This riveting dialogue explored the impact of Indian Jewels on Cartier’s unique design aesthetic. It delved into Jacques Cartier’s forays to India, in the early 20th century, using his unpublished diaries and letters to bring to life his Royal clients and their opulent jewels.
Here’s a look at the other sessions that were held at the symposium.
SATURDAY, 7 OCT 2017 | 9 am to 8 pm
- The Great Beauty: Exemplars of India’s Legacy by Usha Balakrishnan
- Dissolving Boundaries: Enamelled Brocades and Painted Jewels from Banaras (Varanasi) by Anjan Chakraverty
- The Mystique of Golconda: The Diamond by Tom Moses
- Diamond Jewellery before Diamond Cutting by Derek Content
- Collecting the al-Sabah Collection: Precious Indian Weapons in the al-Sabah Collection by Salam Kaoukji
- Jewels and Mughal Court Ritual by Susan Stronge
- First Water for Finial: The Sovereign Golconda by Pramod Kumar KG
- Is All That Glitters Really Gold? Jewels Worth Collecting by Lisa Hubbard
- Inspiring India, Inspired by India: Indian DNA in Jewellery by François Arpels
- Royal Patronage, Enduring Grace: The Gaekwad Legacy by Maharani Radhikaraje Gaekwad
The conference was held from 6.00 pm, Friday, October 6 and through to 7.00 pm on Saturday, October 7 followed by a cocktail reception. On Sunday October 8, 2017, as part of the closure, a select ‘By Invitation Only’ group met for a round-table discussion and brunch from 10.30 am to 1.00 pm to address issues related to scholarship, research and policy.