The diamond is a symbol of love, wealth and power. Down the centuries, this precious stone has been adored by the rich and powerful -- among them empresses such as Catherine the Great of Russia and Elisabeth of Austria. Now the general public has the opportunity to get a little closer to the treasures of royalty, at an exhibition at Tokyo National Museum titled "The Splendor of Diamonds."

The exhibition spans 400 years and gathers together from museums across Europe some 200 pieces of diamond jewelry, from rings and necklaces to brooches and tiaras. Some of these dazzling pieces are so costly that it is difficult to imagine them being owned by an individual -- and so large that you simply can't picture them ever being worn.

Yes, in this world of eye candy, form definitely rules over function. The biggest of them all is a 21.4 cm × 12.5 cm bow-shaped stomacher, dating from the 18th century. As the name suggests, this corsagelike brooch, with 662 diamonds totaling nearly 614 carats, was worn tied around the stomach. It's certainly an awe-inspiring piece, but whether it's in good taste is rather more questionable.