“India: Jewels that Enchanted the World”, the most comprehensive exhibition of Indian jewellery ever staged, opened in April to great fanfares in the State Museums of Moscow Kremlin.
The exhibition examines the legacy of 500 years of Indian jewellery, from the 17th century to the present day. More than 300 pieces of jewellery and jewelled objects — generously loaned from over 30 museums, institutions and private collections from around the world — were brought together for the first time to showcase the beauty of Indian craftsmanship, the magnificence of diamond and gemstone setting and the aesthetic refinement of Indian taste. Many of the items have never been exhibited before.
The exhibition is the result of successful collaboration between the diamond and jewellery industry and the major cultural institution. It is the brainchild of Alex Popov, President of the Moscow Diamond Bourse and the chairman of the World Diamond Mark Foundation, who in 2011 suggested the idea to Dr. Elena Gagarina, Director of Kremlin Museum. Together, they brought together scholars and enthusiasts from India, UK, Switzerland and the USA to realise the ambitious project.
To manage and market the multi-year project, Mr. Popov formed Indo-Russian Jewellery Foundation (IRJF). The foundation took a leading role in locatyion of the exhibition, hired world-renowned curators, photographers, writers and experts and fully coordinated and oversaw the organization of the event. IRJF received generous support from Alrosa and the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) of India, as well as from various other benefactors.
“The list institutions, museums and collectors who made their jewellery available, and the unique list of experts, curators and advisors that we engaged for this project, is solid proof of the exclusivity and unmatched quality of the pieces that are on display at this exhibition, ” Popov stated. “A – partial – list of friends who helped make this happen includes: Dr. Elena Gagarina and her dedicated team; Prof. David Khalili of Khalili Foundation; Monique Barbier-Mueller of Musée Barbier-Mueller in Geneva; Lee Siegelson; Dr. Amin Jaffer from Christie’s; Serge Fradkoff; Ronny Totah; Beatrice de Plinval of Chaumet; Catherine Cariou of Van Cleef; Pascale Lepeu of Cartier; Patrick Mauboussin; the Kasliwal and Arora families from Jaipur; Viren and Madhura Bhagat and their wonderful sons; Dr. Neil McGregor, Director of the British Museum, Dr. Usha Balakrishnan and Ekaterina Scherbina, exhibition curators; Michael Anikst, the exhibition’s catalogue designer.”
The exhibition’s opening night was attended by a who-is-who of the top jewellery houses and specialists in the world: Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, Chaumet, Siegelson, Totah, Faerber and others; auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s; representatives of major museums, scholars and collectors. “I was especially honored with the video greeting by Dr. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, whose kind words make us all proud of this achievement and underline the importance of cultural exchanges and the preservation of heritage”.
“As the Chairman of the World Diamond Mark Foundation, an initiative of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), I see this exhibition as the first major event on the long road to generic diamond promotion. Others will follow very soon,” Popov concluded.