Maharaja Bhupinder Singh and the Patiala Crown Jewels

When Jacques Cartier visited Patiala in 1911, he was rather surprised to discover the jewel-loving Maharaja Bhupinder Singh was initially more interested in selling him gems than buying them.

It wasn’t really what Jacques had in mind when he had arrived in India with cases of diamond and pearl Cartier creations from Paris. Still, he liked the Maharaja and wanted to build up a good relationship for the future so he ended up leaving the palace laden with more precious jewels than he had arrived with (and considerably poorer).

It turned out to be a wise decision – over the next few years the Maharaja and my great-grandfather stayed in contact and in 1925, 14 years after that initial meeting, Cartier received one of the largest commissions in its history – the remounting of the Patiala crown jewels.

There were so many items that the process took three years to complete and the end result was prominently displayed in Cartier’s Paris Rue de la Paix branch in a move that generated great publicity all round – Cartier became known as a jeweller fit for exotic kings while the Maharaja was able to display his excellent European taste.

And all this in an age before social media!

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