Vintage Indian Jewelry Inspires Red Carpet Style

It may come as a shock for some, but the old dictum “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” made famous by Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, may no longer prove universally true. A testament to how things have changed, Jennifer Aniston told the New York Times how hesitant she was with the enormous diamond engagement ring she received from her fiancé, actor Justin Theroux, “It took me a while to get used to it. I’m not a diamond girl. I’m more Indian jewelry and stuff.” Diamonds are not necessarily the ultimate accessory for contemporary women who want something colorful and bold. For traditional pieces that are vibrant and bespoke, look no further than antique Indian jewelry.

Indian jewelry has been gaining traction in the United States, both at institutions and on the red carpet. The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York recently exhibited Treasures from India: Jewels from the Al-Thani Collection, which features sixty prized pieces from the private collection of Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Thani. Highlights included a number of sarpesh, or turban ornaments, originating from North and South India. Produced during the 19th century, the pieces are crafted with gold and set with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and spinels, a deep blue and red colored gemstone that was long mistaken for rubies until the late 16th century.

In terms of dispersion, the bib necklace and drop earrings are two design motifs that continue to surface on the red carpet. Bold earrings were the statement piece of the 2015 awards season, from Helen Mirren’s diamond and ruby pair by Chopard at the Golden Globes to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Fire Phoenix earrings by Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie at the Oscars. No doubt, the modern chandelier earring has been influenced by the beaded tassels that fall from classic Indian sets.

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