Diamond Jewelry Hall of Fame: Revisiting Emma Chamberlain’s 2022 Met Gala Diamonds 

What could Emma Chamberlain’s 2022 Met Gala look and the Maharaja of Patiala possibly have in common? A historical and controversial natural diamond choker, of course.

By |
Emma Chamberlain attends The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022 in New York City. (Getty Images)

In 2022, social media darling Emma Chamberlain attended the Met Gala for the second time, wearing jaw-dropping antique diamond jewelry from Cartier, seeped in a rich and unexpected history. 

Since 1948, the annual Met Ball has drawn out some of the most captivating natural diamond jewels on the heads, necks, wrists, fingers, and ears of Hollywood’s most elite, and Chamberlain’s 2022 look did anything but disappoint. 

Centering around the theme, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” the exclusive soirée celebrated American fashion, while the dress code focused on “Gilded Glamour,” taking inspiration from The Gilded Age of New York during the period between 1870 and 1890. 

Chamberlain graced the Met steps in a custom two-piece ensemble from French luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton. Designed by creative director Nicolas Ghesquière, she wore a cream long-sleeve crop top and a floor-length white skirt with a cascading train, styled by Jared Ellner. 

met gala 2022 gilded glamour diamond jewelry emma chamberlain cartier louis vuitton
Emma Chamberlain attends The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Getty Images)

Adding regality to her gilded ensemble, Chamberlain wore the Cartier Diamond Scroll Kokoshnik tiara, originally crafted in 1911. Her hair stylist, Laura Polko even had to thread the tiara into place with two hidden braids close to Chamberlain’s scalp to secure the diamond diadem. 

Chamberlain’s ears were sprinkled with diamonds, filling three piercings on each side, including two sets of studs and a pair of oval-shaped diamond drop earrings. 

Most significantly, Chamberlain wore a historic natural diamond choker believed to have been previously owned by the Maharaja of Patiala. With white diamond circular rings linked to one abother, each sphere encased magificent yellow diamonds.

The Maharaja of Patiala’s Diamond Choker 

A Sanskrit title meaning “great ruler”, “great king”, or “high king,” a Maharaja is an Indian prince – and the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala was one of India’s most famous.

After meeting Jacques Cartier during the jeweler’s first trip to India in 1911, the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala traveled to Paris in 1925, bringing approximately 20 trunks filled with the highest quality precious stones, from natural diamonds and emeralds to sapphires, pearls, and rubies, all set within antique Indian settings. It’s been said that each trunk was accompanied by its own security. The Maharaja decided to have his jewels all reset at the legendary jewelry house, Maison Cartier. 

Maharaja Yadavindra Singh, Son of Sir Bhupinder Singh, wearing the Patiala necklace

Known for his penchant for luxury, the Maharaja commissioned Cartier in 1928 to make a ceremonial necklace with his massive De Beers diamond at its center. Passed down from his father, Rajinder Singh of Patiala, the family acquired the De Beers diamond in 1889 when it was included in the Paris Universal exhibition. Weighing in at 234.65 carats, the yellow diamond was originally mined in South Africa and is considered the world’s seventh-largest diamond.

In 2002, The New York Times reported that it took Cartier’s master craftsman three years to complete the necklace. “The necklace is basically Art Deco in style; Cartier was at the vanguard of designing jewelry, clocks and objets d’art in the Deco style,” wrote NYT journalist Wendy Moonan. “When the necklace was completed in 1928, Cartier was so proud of the craftsmanship that it asked if the necklace could be exhibited before being sent to India. The Maharajah agreed.”

The extraordinary natural diamond choker, later worn by Chamberlain, was just one component of the impressive jewel, later known as the Patiala Necklace.

The Patiala Necklace included five rows of platinum chains, embellished with 2,390 diamonds and an assortment of Burmese rubies. At the time, this was the most expensive jewel in history and one of Cartier’s largest commissions of all time. According to the Times of India, it would have cost approximately 30 million dollars today in its original form. 

A Mysterious Disappearance 

The exquisite piece was last seen on Sir Bhupinder Singh’s son, Maharaja Yadavindra Singh in 1948 before mysteriously disappearing from the Patiala royal treasury. 

After its disappearance, there was no trace of the Patiala Necklace for 34 years but in 1982, the De Beers diamond miraculously resurfaced at Sotheby’s Patiala Royal Family auction—just the solitaire diamond, without the rest of the necklace. 

Then in 1998, a different part of the necklace appeared in a second-hand antique shop in London.

Cartier purchased whatever scraps of the five-tiered necklace they could find to authentically restore the historic jewel. Due to just how rare and spectacular the original, missing jewels were, Cartier had to re-make the bib-style necklace with replica stones to maintain its historic appearance. Luckily, the choker portion remained in-tact with natural diamonds.

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala (Getty Images)
The Patiala necklace, reconsrtucted by Cartier on show at the V&A Museum for the opening of the Maharaja Exhibition on October 6, 2009 in London, England.(Getty Images)

Emma Chamberlain’s historic assortment of jewels at the 2022 Met Gala made waves and stirred conversation. After representing the fine jeweler at the ball, Cartier used the grand occasion to announce Chamberlain as an official brand ambassador

In recent years, interest in the Maharaja and his insatiable appetite for natural diamonds and other high-quality gemstones has seen a significant spike. Exhibitions dedicated to Indian jewels, such as Christie’s 2019 Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence auction, continue to applaud expert craftsmanship and highlight pieces from Sir Bhupinder Singh’s royal collection.

Finally, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala’s knack for exceptional gems and jewels has been recognized as the stuff of legend, filled with boundless beauty and unbelievable backstories.

Diamond Hall of Fame