Since Christie’s successful sale of the Mughal Al Thani jewelry collection in 2019, gemstones with Indian influences have become a rare commodity. This auction, which included exceptional Golconda diamonds and all kinds of jeweled objects from the Indian royal court, became the second highest-grossing sale of a private jewelery collection (surpassed by the estate of Elizabeth Taylor ) and thrust the art of oriental jewelry design into the limelight. . Now, to commemorate 10 years of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s reimagined Islamic galleries, the museum shop features creations from some of India’s foremost contemporary jewelers as well as a trove of collectible antiques.
Renewing its commitment to Islamic art, the museum has enlisted renowned designer and textile connoisseur Madeline Weinrib to curate a selection of modern artisans from across the Islamic world. Weinrib, who is best known for her former carpet shop and for reinvigorating the luxurious El Fenn in Marrakech, has brought together a wide range of makers who carry on the centuries-old art featured in the Met’s collection.
There are hand-embroidered linens by Al Nour of Morocco, glassware by Orient 499 of Lebanon, and intricately embroidered cashmere-style scarves among many other designs exclusive to the Met store (and, we might add, are perfect for Mother’s Day gifts). But, for collectors, it is the jewels on offer that are the most attractive. Weinrib enlisted pieces from the historic Munnu Gem Palace in Jaipur, jeweler to the Indian Maharajas since the 18th century; cult designer Hanut Singh, who renders traditional Indian motifs with graphic modernity; and Brazilian designer Silvia Furmanovich’s exquisite wood marquetry jewelry collection drawing inspiration from Egyptian and Indian craftsmanship.
Although a selection of Heirloom Project products are available online, the really good stuff can only be found in-store. And on April 22 and 23, jewelry dealer Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos will host a chest exhibit featuring a range of rare vintage and antique jewelry made or inspired by various Muslim cultures. “I wouldn’t call it Muslim jewelry, per se,” Ispahani Bartos clarifies, “but certainly the designs and the stones came from a time when Muslim rulers such as the Mughals or the Ottomans ruled and set the parameters. of high culture.” Her offering includes everything from silver talismans engraved with the elaborate designs of the Berber, Tuareg and Turkmen peoples to a table-cut ruby and diamond ring set in typically Indian high-karat gold.
Particularly collectable, says Ispahani Bartos, are works with Indians meenakari the enamel work, such as a particularly stunning diamond bracelet from his collection, and “the spectacular interactions between Western jewelers such as Cartier and the great Indian Muslim nawabs and maharajas”.
In any iteration, bejeweled or not, the Heirloom Project features a slew of beautiful objects that bring a bit of Mughal magnificence to everyday life.