Though jewelry, especially necklaces are usually associated with women, one of the grandest and the most opulent necklaces ever made was for the King of Patiala Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala who ruled Patiala from 1909 to 1938.
The spectacular ‘Patiala Necklace’, was opulent and famous across the world. It had embedded, as its centre piece, the already famous ‘De Beers diamond’- the 7th largest diamond in the world. No wonder then that this necklace goes down in the annals of history as one of the most expensive pieces of jewelry, ever made!
The Maharaja sent trunks full of rubies, emeralds and loose diamonds along with the ‘De Beers diamond’ in a ship from Patiala to Paris to be reset.
The man who placed an order for this necklace was Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, a wealthy kingdom in the fertile plains of Punjab. Rich beyond measure, the Maharaja was famous for living ‘king size’ even by the high standards of other Indian Maharaja’s of the time!
Maharaja Bhupinder Singh lived in a palace of 1200 rooms with 300 concubines. In 1926, he commissioned Cartier to reset his crown jewels and create a spectacular necklace for him. Trunks and trunks of rubies, emeralds and loose diamonds along with the De Beers diamond were packed in sealed trunks and transported in ships from Patiala to Paris. After two years of hard work by the Cartier craftsmen, it was ready in 1928.
The necklace’s platinum base contained 2930 diamonds collectively weighing 925.62 carats. At the center was a light yellow 234 carat De Beers diamond (almost double the size of Kohinoor which is just 106 carats). Also set in the necklace was a unique, very rare 18 carat tobacco colored diamond. After Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, the necklace passed on to his heir and successor, Maharaja Yadavinder Singh (father of Punjab CM Amarinder Singh). It is in the 1960s, that the necklace ‘disappeared’ from Patiala. No one knew of its fate. In 1998, the necklace resurfaced in a London antique shop. Only the frame remained, all the diamonds had been taken out and sold. Cartier purchased it and restored it with Zircon. It was put on display at the Cartier store in Paris in 2002. It is estimated that had the original necklace been intact, it would have been valued at a whopping $30 million today!