By  on May 18, 2009

“It was emotional to receive one of the pieces that our predecessors had created," says the director of Cartier’s high jewelry workshops, Xavier Gargat, of the mythic ceremonial Patiala necklace his team painstakingly restored following its rediscovery in London in 1998 in a badly damaged state.  Bereft of most of its major stones, the piece was originally commissioned in 1928 by the Maharaja Sir Bhupindar Singh of Patiala. As the biggest and most impressive necklace ever made by Cartier — featuring a total of 2,930 diamonds — the Art Deco-style wonder, comprising five diamond-encrusted platinum chains, carried in its glory day a central cascade of five large diamonds punctuated with the 234.65-carat yellow De Beers diamond. Celebrating a bygone  era of opulence, the restored necklace is to be exhibited in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s upcoming exhibition “Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts,” in London this fall.

Meanwhile, a number of vintage Cartier jewelry pieces are set to be showcased in an upcoming Cartier exhibition in Beijing’s Hidden City, running Sept. 3 to Nov. 24.

Here are highlights from Cartier’s storied archives.

The turn of the 20th century saw a rush of delicate “garland style” jewelry designs produced by Cartier, crafted from a new sturdy but lightweight platinum alloy, mixed with diamonds and pearls. Tiaras, brooches, necklaces and corsage ornaments with articulated mounts wore gossamer neoclassical motifs such as fl oral swags, tassels and ribbon bows. Louis Cartier is said to have pored over a variety of sources of ornamentation for inspiration for his designs, from the decorative motifs found on Paris’ old hotels or the garlands of fruit adorning Versailles’ Petit Trianon to lace and wrought-iron works. Pictured above is Cartier’s Scroll tiara, dated 1910, made from platinum with round- and old-cut diamonds and a single cushion-shaped diamond,  using a millegrain setting. The piece was sold to Queen Elisabeth of Belgium.

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