Maharajas’ Gems Go On Display

necklace00_dv588969_c61e30_249182tIndia was the jewel in Britain’s empire — quite literally so: the Brits looted the subcontinent of its precious gems in rapacious fashion. Even though the gleaming riches of the new exhibition of maharajas’ jewels at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum still reside in India, the imperialist past still haunts the show. Having bowed to political correctness, I have to say that owning the pictured Patiala Necklace might turn me into an Imperialist Memsahib pronto. The necklace is part of jeweller Cartier’s largest single commission. Completed in 1928, it originally contained 2,930 diamonds. Cartier’s advice about it: “Not to be warn in the daytime.” Not even to a Coronation?

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