Adorn is a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to luxury jewellery

For His Majesty!

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Jacques Cartier (1884-1942) knew from the day he set foot in India in 1911, that the Indian maharajas had a voracious appetite for jewels. But nothing prepared him for the challenge set by Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji, Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar (1872-1933), who, before taking the throne in 1907, was one of the most famous cricket players in the British Empire. He placed before Cartier a casket containing one of the most beautiful diamonds in the world, the Queen of Holland. It was a 136-carat, D colour stone with a flawless purity. The stone’s exceptional whiteness and brilliance sparked a debate among experts about its provenance. Some held that it had the characteristics of a Golconda diamond and must have emerged from the famous Indian mines, whose resources had been exhausted since the early 18th century. Others thought that it had been discovered at the beginning of the century in South Africa. Cut in Amsterdam in 1904, it was named Queen of Holland in honour of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.
But the main issue before Jacques Cartier was how to show off the gem to its best advantage? Finally, it was decided that he would combine the 136-carat stone with various coloured diamonds, including five rose-cuts, one blue diamond and an extremely rare olive-green diamond of 12.86 carats. Here’s the drawing of the ceremonial necklace for the Maharajah of Nawanagar, 1931.
(London Cartier Archives © Cartier)


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