While many were occupied by the outrageous fashion and over-the-top looks at yesterday’s MET Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, we were more focused on the jewellery, and were delighted to spot a piece with extraordinary royal provenance which we have been researching for ages: The Maharaja of Patiala’s Cartier Diamond Choker!
In 1925, the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala travelled to Paris, bringing with him numerous trunks of precious stones: diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, pearls and rubies of the highest quality set in antique Indian settings, which he decided to have reset at Maison Cartier. The most spectacular jewel created from the commission was the 1928 Patiala Necklace, containing 2,930 diamonds, including the world’s seventh-largest diamond at the time, the 234.65 carat “De Beers”, the largest cushion-cut yellow diamond and the 2nd largest yellow faceted diamond in the world. There was also this Art Deco Diamond Chocker, which features massive Yellow Diamonds.
Despite having commissioned the necklace and being quite fond of jewels, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh was only rarely photographed wearing the Patiala Necklace, usually paired with the Cartier Diamond Choker, with a notable appearance in Spain in the 1930s, when the Maharaja was hosted by the Duke of Miranda.
Maharaja Bhupinder Singh’s heir, Maharaja Yadavindra Singh, was often photographed or filmed wearing this spectacular Cartier Diamond Choker, usually with the Patiala Necklace, througout the 1930s and the 1940s, with one of the last appearences in 1948, right after the accession of Patiala to the Republic of India. The Patiala Necklace disappeared from the Royal Treasury around 1948, though it is believed it was broken up and the stones retained by the Royal Family.
In the 1980s, the Patiala Royal Family sold a few jewels at auction, including their Lover’s Knot Tiara and the ‘De Beers’ Diamond, while a portion of the necklace was found by a Cartier associate at a second-hand jewellery shop in London in 1998, with many missing diamonds, taking four years to restore the necklace to its original glory. The fate of the Maharaja of Patiala’s Cartier Diamond Choker is unknown, but it was likely sold separately (possibly in the 80s) and acquired by Cartier at a later date than the necklace, though the two have been exhibited together at Cartier Exhibitions around the world.
Yesterday, the Maharaja of Patiala’s Cartier Diamond Choker appeared on YouTuber Emma Chamberlain, an Ambassador for Cartier, who paired the Choker with a Cartier Tiara for the 2022 Met Gala Celebrating “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Emma also interviewed celebrities for Vogue. This is the first instance which we have found of the Patiala Choker being loaned, but lets hope it gets to be worn agains soon.