Jaipur is a city well-known for its gem trade. We went to the gem centre and watched artisans cutting and polishing precious stones like emeralds, rubies and sapphires – a feast for the eyes. Of course, the pieces that most appealed to me were well outside my budget so I was content to marvel at the display.
Aside from the jewellery grade stones, we had seen semi-precious gems inlaid in the marble work at the Taj Mahal – carnelian, turquoise, lapis lazuli, onyx and malachite. There are a couple of photos of the inlay below. And, as you can see, the colours remain beautiful.
The other way in which gemstones are used is to crush them into a fine powder and then to use them as paints. We saw this employed at Amber Fort where the gem paints were used to create pictures. While the colours around the paintings were long faded, the gemstone paintings were still vibrant, hundreds of years on.
My nod to buying gems came outside Jama Masjid Mosque in Delhi where I purchased, from a hawker, a string of red stones that may or may not be garnets. It’s a subtle addition to my collection. If they turn out to be faux, then they’re still a souvenir!
Jaipur is the place
if you have a yen for gems –