Lost diamonds found on the red carpet

Cartier commissioned jeweled necklace made for the Maharaja of Patiala should not have been worn at the 2022 Met Gala


YouTube sensation, Emma chamberlain flaunts the necklace of the Patalia royalty at the 2022 Met Gala. After disappearing from the Patiala treasury, the heirloom “De Beers” diamond wasn’t spotted for another 34 years. “Certain clothes and jewelry have a cultural significance which is often washed away when people wear them just for aesthetics. In this instance, that necklace had a lot of history and importance behind it. Especially considering that it was stolen from Indian royalty. It’s just wrong and disrespectful for her as an influencer to wear to an event that doesn’t benefit south Asians in any way or highlights them. She wore it for her own benefit which I believe is so disrespectful,” junior Fernanda Chavez Hernandez said.

The Met Gala is a display of extravagance, wealth and expensive exclusive fashion. The Met Gala was founded by Eleanor Lambert in 1948 as a fundraiser to fund the costume exhibit; however, the early years were not nearly as grand as it is now. The first tickets and dinner cost $50, compared to a whopping $35,000 for simple entry and $200k-$300k for a table at the event.

From the outside, the event seems to be a dream; lavish dinners attended by hundreds of celebrities, but that does not exclude the Met Gala from their share of controversies. Their most recent 2022 gala had the theme of “Gilded Glamour” brought in plethora of different interpretations of the theme, including YouTube sensation Emma Chamberlain.

Chamberlain wore a two-piece white silk maxi skirt and a cream ruffled top designed by the luxury French fashion house, Louis Vuitton. However, it was the allegedly stolen diamond choker that caught the eye of many. The diamond choker she proudly displayed as the newest ambassador for Cartier was made and completed for the Maharaja of Patiala in 1928.

The necklace in its glory had five chains including the choker that Chamberlain wore. The necklace was a glorious piece with 2,930 diamonds, a handful of Burmese rubies, and the magnificent heirloom diamond “De Beers.” The yellow centerpiece is the largest cushion-cut yellow diamond and the second largest yellow faceted diamond in the world.

So how did the necklace end up at the Met Gala? The necklace’s roots take us back to the British Empire. The Empire was vast and one of their most prized colonies was the Indian subcontinent, which they ruled over for a hundred years. Their cruel reign finally came to an end in 1947 when the Indian subcontinent fought back and gained their independence. In 1948, after the partition of the Indian subcontinent that created Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, the necklace disappeared from the Patiala tressureary, and it remained lost for another 34 years.

The necklace made an incomplete reappearance in 1992 at the Sotheby’s auction in Geneva, with only the “De Beers” diamond being resurfaced. The opulent diamond was bid for $3.16 million, but it is unclear if the diamond was actually bought. In 1998, part of the necklace was found in a secondhand shop by Cartier employee, Eric Nussbaum, who brought back what was left of the necklace to Cartier. From the original necklace all of the remaining large diamonds were missing including the Burmese rubies. It took Cartier four years to once again complete the necklace, needing to replace the missing diamonds with synthetic diamonds and a replica of the lost “De Beers” diamond.

The refurbished necklace has been in the possession of Cartier ever since and was worn by Emma Chamberlain at the 2022 Met Gala. Cartier chose to Bestow an Indian royal family’s lost Heirloom to a white, 20 year old YouTuber who could not fathom the importance of what she was wearing. There was no consciousness when the choker was given to be worn, no consideration that the necklace was allegedly stolen from the royal family by the British colonists and no recognition of the utter importance that the necklace held. The necklace was a seen symbol for the resistance against the white culture forced upon the Indian Subcontinent and signified that India had just as much Class, Honor and dignity as the British. Chamberlain or Cartier don’t come close to living up to that.

The Met Gala facilitated the showcasing of an unjustly allegedly stolen artifact, Cartier propelled it forward and Emma Chamberlain blindly chose to follow. Although all three parties are to blame for the absolute disrespect they have perpetrated towards the historic Indian community; Cartier should take full responsibility for giving the necklace to Chamberlain. Yes, Chamberlain wore the necklace, but it was Cartier who knew the entire history of the necklace and its significance and still chose to let her wear it. The necklace does not belong on someone’s neck, it belongs in a museum, and that’s where Cartier should’ve sent it, not a red carpet.

“Cartier should be held accountable because they’re the ones who bought the necklace in the first place and are the ones giving it away under their name benefiting from showcasing it through Emma. Emma also might not have known the significance behind the necklace. As an influencer, she might have viewed the offering as a good way to gain recognition herself, so I believe she’s not fully at fault here; however, the company is,” Hernandez said.

From its outrageous price for attending to its blatantly ignorant attendees, the Met Gala has tarnished its regal reputation. Cartier should have given the necklace back to their rightful owner and not let a white woman wear it. It is crucial to point out the race of Chamberlain because the choker itself is historically significant for the brown community, a community which Emma Chamberlain could never ethically represent or understand. She, a person who gave no recognition to the piece she was wearing; she, a person with no historical connection to the piece, and she, who cannot represent the community of the piece she was wearing, should have never worn it.

“I don’t think [Chamberlain] should have worn it, the necklace should have been given back to the family, because it has a lot of sentimental value and Emma doesn’t understand the story behind the choker,” junior Josie Jarillo Odeggard said.

Artifacts like the Patiala necklace have an immense amount of history and in the future companies should take responsibility and honor them by donating them to a museum not for people to wear.