Jaipur’s Amrapali Museum, which opened to the public last month, has no star exhibits or crowd-pullers to boast of, but still manages to spark intrigue. The 4,000 pieces of jewellery and personal objects are housed in a sprawling 6,500 sq. ft space, annexed to the company headquarters. These exhibits aren’t a throwback to historic, bloody battles or hushed royal scandals, instead they are firmly, and delightfully, quotidian.
For instance, a pair of gold toe rings studded with diamonds and rubies signals a privileged owner—wearing gold below the waist was considered an insult to goddess Lakshmi, and a right limited to royalty, or persons of eminence. A silver lingam necklace goes back to the Lingayat sect that exclusively worships Lord Shiva.
A detachable enamelled necklace, which can be fashioned as individual bracelets, encapsulates the Zoroastrian philosophy in its inlaid diamond topography, which reads “Humata, Hukhta, Huversta” (good thoughts, good words, good deeds). The cyclical nature of fashion is evinced through pairs of geometric 19th-century gold ear studs from Tamil Nadu that could easily belong in a contemporary designer’s lookbook.