Maharajahii Indiei / The Maharajahs of India (VII).

Maharajahii Indiei / The Maharajahs of India (VII).

(Ann Morrow, „Highness. The Maharajahs of India”, Cap. 4, „As Plentiful as Blackberries”)

Patiala was even more striking. He was six feet tall, and had a preference for a daffodil yellow or jet black turban held with a cluster of emeralds. He tended to wear white buckskins, a long tunic of scarlet trimmed with gold and thigh-high black leather boots.

On a ceremonial day in Delhi, he would not be wearing less than four ropes of pearls to the waist, and the fashion was to string emerald beads snuggled between each pearl. Around his waist he wore a belt of diamonds, and a gold lame scarf was held by a four-inch emerald. Five necklaces of diamonds and emeralds were tiered like a vineyard round his neck with a collar of diamonds in platinum at the top. He carried a jewelled sword.

European jewellers from London, Paris and Amsterdam set out on long sea voyages in the hope of doing business with the Princes. They could wait for months without seeing a maharajah but would be taken on tiger-shoots and sightseeing around marble temples in Rolls-Royces.

The man from Garrard, the Crown jewellers, who was staying in the Jodhpur Palace in 1926, noted with some superiority that his rival from Boucheron was put in the dak bungalow. But even on a third visit to India, he had the greatest difficulty persuading the Maharajah to have platinum mounts. ‘He is afraid he will be seen as a silver prince and not a gold one.’

Generations of Cartier sons served the aesthetic needs of the maharajahs. Jacques Cartier, who died in 1942, was a precise, fastidious man who lived in Woking. His chauffeur drove him in his Rolls-Royce to Bond Street each morning at 10 o’ clock and he invariably took afternoon tea at the nearby Ritz. Each year he went to India with trunkfuls of exotic ideas and designs. The maharajahs used to stay at his house in Surrey where they all played golf. He redesigned their jewels and excited them about new trends; art deco brooches, chinoiserie, mystery clocks, Faberge, panther motifs on gold watches and crystal furniture. In 1928 Baroda asked him to be his sole adviser on jewels.

-to be continued-

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