In January, the Fowler Museum at the University of California Los Angeles announced a new exhibition highlighting silver jewelry, specifically the rich and diverse silver jewelry traditions of the Thar Desert region of India.

Image: Hanuman Soni (Jaisalmer, Rajasthan)

As Erin Connors reports, the exhibit, “Enduring Splendor,” features more than 160 works of art as well as in-depth depictions of jewelry traditions in India, “inviting visitors to consider these traditions against the background of a 5,000-year history of jewelry making across the vast Indian subcontinent.”

These 160 works of art include earrings, anklets, bracelets and necklaces, which were borrowed from the Ronald and Maxine Linde Collection, one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Indian jewelry.

“The exhibi¬tion will [also] include important sculptures and paintings borrowed from LACMA to demonstrate the profusion and variety of jewelry worn by Hindu gods and goddesses in ancient times and by maharajas and maharanis from the 17th to early 19th centuries,” says UCLA’s website description of the display.

This exhibit is also unique in that it is one of the first to include an in-depth look into the lives of sonis (silversmiths or goldsmiths) from the city of Jaisalmer, which is today a thriving center of contemporary jewelry production. Visitors can check out videos of each soni using traditional techniques to manufacture jewelry that is in line with Indian tradition.

“This presentation emphasizes the symbiotic relationships that exist between jewelry and society, artist and jewelry, and artist and society,” Connors writes. “Traditionally, the act of manufacturing a piece of jewelry is sacred and akin to creation. It is this spiritual act of creation that makes every piece unique and induces craftsmen to remain anonymous.”

All silver jewelry, especially pieces like these that have been stored for long periods of time, must be protected and properly cared for to protect from tarnish. One of the best ways to do this is to use anti tarnish strips.