Cartier the 'King of Jewellers' shines in Paris expo

Cartier the 'King of Jewellers' shines in Paris expo

Paris - From the royal diadem worn by Kate Middleton at her wedding to an outsized maharaja's necklace, hundreds of glimmering treasures go on show this week in a major Paris exhibit on Cartier.

"Jeweller of Kings and King of Jewellers" was how King Edward VII dubbed the house, half a century after Louis-Francois Cartier founded what would become the world's largest jeweller in 1847.

It was certainly to Cartier that the Maharaja of Patiala turned when he travelled to France early last century from India's Punjab laden with treasure.

"He arrived in Paris in 1928 with chests packed full of antique jewels and asked Cartier to rework them in a modern style," the curator of the Cartier collection Pascale Lepeu told AFP.

The result, one of the pieces on display: a necklace of five diamond-studded chains large enough to cover his whole chest.

The show running until February 16 under the famous glass roof of the Grand Palais exhibition hall is the largest ever devoted to Cartier.

With items dating from the 19th century to the 1970s, it highlights the styles that influenced the house over the years, from Marie-Antoinette to the Art Deco movement, to Russian, Indian and Chinese trends.

Most of the 600 pieces on show belong to the house, which decided in the mid-1980s to start buying back historic pieces, at auction or from antique dealers.

It tracked down the maharaja's necklace in 1998.

Others are high-profile loans, including from Queen Elizabeth II who made available the tiara Cartier created in 1936 for the British royal family, which the queen lent to Prince William's bride for their wedding last year.

Known as the "Halo" and set with 739 brilliant and 149 baton diamonds, it was bought by George VI before his coronation for the Duchess of York, now the Queen Mother, who presented it to Elizabeth on her 18th birthday.

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