Who do you picture when you imagine a man decked out in the finest jewellery that Paris’s Place Vendôme has to offer? Perhaps the actor Timothée Chalamet, who has made a habit of tricking out his eclectic red-carpet ensembles with antique Cartier brooches. Maybe it’s the basketball player Russell Westbrook, who draped a sapphire necklace over his trad tuxedo at the Met Gala in September with the insouciance of a workplace lanyard.
The man who really should come to mind, however, is the Maharaja of Patiala. A strikingly tall Indian royal and keen cricketer, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh had a taste for Rolls-Royces and suites at the Ritz; aircraft (he was the first person in India to own a plane) and diamonds as big as golf balls. In 1928, he arrived in Paris with 7,571 diamonds and 1,432 emeralds. Then, he paid a visit to Boucheron, where he placed an exceptionally grand commission for 149 designs.