It’s the second Monday of May, and that only means one thing, we’re still talking about the Met Gala! All week there was only one thing people on the internet were talking about Kim Kardashian angering the world by wearing the iconic dress Marylin Monroe wore to sing President Kennedy’s ‘Happy Birthday.’ Kim’s outfit choice was deemed as reckless and careless about damaging a valuable piece of history.
Well, it turns out Kim wasn’t the only one wearing a historical piece (without counting that Kim wore another Marylin dress to the after-party), YouTuber Emma Chamberlain appeared flawless in a minimalist Louis Vuitton outfit adorned with a luscious necklace filled with diamonds. Social media users rapidly identified the necklace as one that used to belong to Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala.
As it happened with Kim Kardashian and the now infamous Marylin dress, people on social media showed their anger claiming that history should be preserved and not be lent to celebrities to be worn on red carpets. So, what’s the story of the necklace and why did it cause such controversy in the internet world?
History of the Patiala Necklace
Known also as the Patiala Necklace, the jewelry piece was commissioned to Cartier by the Maharaja. To make the heirloom necklace, the latter gave Cartier some special diamonds known as De Beers diamond, one of the biggest in history. The necklace was completed in 1928.
The Patiala necklace has five rows of platinum chains encrusted with 2,930 diamonds and Burmese rubies. According to reports, the necklace used to weigh over a thousand carats and the unique De Beers diamond had an estimated weight of 234.6 carats; it’s the seven largest registered diamond in the world. Back in the day, the business wasn’t rentable for the young French jeweler mainly because the Maharaja wanted his stones to be used on the piece, still, the idea of creating something with some of the most amazing diamonds in the world was a once in a lifetime chance. The necklace ended up being so luxurious and unique to what the western world had seen that when Cartier displayed it in Paris, visitors from all over the world gathered to see it.
Unfortunately, the luscious necklace was stolen from the Maharaja family in 1948 during the Indian Independence war. Part of it was later ‘recovered’ and then bought by Cartier in 1982 with some diamonds missing; it was restored with replicas. It’s estimated that the original necklace would be worth at least 30 million dollars.
Why is the appearance of the necklace causing so much controversy?
Now, as one of the newest Cartier ambassadors, YouTuber Emma Chamberlain was lent the historic piece to wear at the Met Gala, but it also has some issues. Starting with the fact that it was piece looted during the independence war and then “mysteriously” recovered in England (the colonizer) and easily sold to Cartier back. This is a clear example of how many of the valuable goods many western countries are proud to possess were stolen during their colonization enterprises.
As social media users noted this is a priceless piece of India’s stolen history and the fact that it’s now just being paraded by celebrities is disrespectful to that history. Twitter user @arianaspovv, nailed it: “it has a deep and painful history attached to it. Very on theme, nothing screams gilded glamour quite like expropriation.” Also quite on point was @valovife’s comment: “the height of privilege to be able to flaunt stolen goods on the global stage.”
So far, neither Emma Chamberlain nor Cartier has commented on the controversy, but we can all agree that both Emma and Kim’s choices are questionable and should serve as a cautionary tale for upcoming events.