Lucy Moore

Jewel Identitites

Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond

By

Bloomsbury 335pp £16.99) order from our bookshop

Any portrait of an Indian prince or princess, from the 15th century to the 20th, is likely to show the sitter draped in fabulous jewellery: ropes of pearls the size of marbles; studded and enamelled belts; daggers and turban ornaments; gold bracelets tied around the upper and lower arms with thick gold thread; anklets and heavy, dangling earrings and nose rings. The words used to describe the stones that appeared in such jewellery evoke lost worlds of glamour and mystery: spinels ‘the colour of pigeons’ blood’, emeralds more beautiful than ‘fragments’ of the sky, diamonds like drops ‘fallen from the sun’.

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