We just got back from visiting our daughter in San Francisco. While we were there, we saw a terrific exhibit at the lovely small museum, the Legion of Honor, East meets West: Jewels of the Maharajas from the Al Thani collection. In French, the title would be L’Est rencontre l’Ouest (lest rohn-kon-truh luhwest).
The exhibit had stunning jewels, to be sure, but I learned a lot as well. For example, the Maharajas adored emeralds – the larger the better. In the West, we worry about perfection and avoiding inclusions, so the emeralds get cut down to chips, losing all their glorious impact. Then, I learned that it was men who wore the fabulous ropes of pearls and diamonds, not women. They were symbols of power, not pretty baubles.
As they were passed down through the generations or found new owners, many were re-styled by the top jewelers in Paris and London, in particular Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. The exhibit is on until February 24, 2019; if you get the opportunity to see it, I highly recommend that you take it all the beauty of these magnificent jewels.