East Meets West: Jewels of the Maharajas from The Al Thani Collection explores themes of influence and exchange between India and Europe through dazzling jewelry, carved jades, enameled gold and famous diamonds. The exhibition features more than 150 exquisite objects made in India or inspired by its traditions, ranging from the 16th century to the present. Of all the non-Western cultural styles—among them ancient Egyptian, Persian, Chinese, and Japanese—brought to bear on fine jewelry made by the major European houses in the twentieth century, that of India remained the most stalwart. This can be seen in the spectacular work of Cartier.
Jacques Cartier (1885–1942), who was eventually in charge of Cartier London, attended the Delhi Durbar in 1911, a huge event celebrating the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary, where he was impressed with the splendor of jewels adorning Indian royalty. Cartier’s London shop was positioned to attract maharajas, who often brought with them large numbers of diamonds and gemstones to be refashioned into new suites of jewelry during their visits to England.