It must have been pretty heavy to wear – around 1000 carats in total (that’s almost half a pound of diamonds). But wow – it would have been worth it! I’ve been lucky enough to meet those on this trip to India who remember it being worn for important ceremonies and my overriding impression is that no amounts of superlatives can do it justice. Just the way it caught the light when it moved must have been absolutely mesmerising.
Today it is owned by Cartier – but sadly not in its original form. In a mysterious development, it appeared in an antique shop in the 1990s but – a big but – with many of the main diamonds missing. Cartier bought it to restore it and have replaced the missing stones with synthetics so you may have seen a restored version in an exhibition at some point. It’s still pretty impressive and a great example of East meets West.
My grandfather explained to me that his father and uncles felt strongly the importance of staying true to a piece’s origin (in this case designing the necklace around the traditional Indian bib shape) while adding one’s own subtle style (i.e. choosing a more European -style platinum mounting). It turned out to be a winning strategy – it has been suggested that, were this necklace to exist in its original form today, it would be worth in the region of $30million…
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