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Twitter users expressed divided opinions on popular YouTuber Emma Chamberlain’s Met Gala, Cartier-designed diamond choker, which was allegedly stolen by the British from India.
The necklace, lent to the vlogger for the event, reportedly disappeared from the Patiala royal treasury around 1948. Prior to that, it had belonged to Indian ruler Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, one of the richest men in the world during his reign from 1900-1938.
In the center of the choker is a golf ball-sized, yellow 23.6 carat De Beers diamond, at one point the seventh-largest in the world. With an additional 2,930 diamonds, the necklace has a total carat weight of over 1,000.
The necklace reportedly resurfaced at a London store in 1998, where French luxury brand Cartier, which specializes in high-end jewelry, then acquired it.
Netizens commented throughout the week about the necklace, which Chamberlain, who has over 11.4 million YouTube subscribers, had worn to the Met Gala on May 2.
— lampglow (@lampglow) May 8, 2022
“Okay so nobody is gonna talk about Emma chamberlain wearing literally a necklace worn by a south Asian king at the met gala? When it comes to south Asians it’s always ignored and rejected SPEAK ABOUT THIS,” commented one user with the hashtag #culturalappropriation.
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“This fills me up with rage, this level of disrespect is unacceptable,” wrote another user.
American YouTuber #EmmaChamberlain wore a piece of jewellery that belonged to Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala.
Patiala Necklace includes 5 rows of platinum chains embellished with 2,930 💎s
— Roshan Rai (@RoshanKrRaii) May 9, 2022
Others were not so impressed, arguing that Chamberlain was not to blame.
“Plz why did I just see someone say they think Emma Chamberlain should have kept the Maharaj's necklace and delivered it back to India... as if she had that much power.”
Some simply did not find the situation problematic, with multiple netizens claiming that “nobody cares.”
S. Vijay Kumar, founder of the India Pride Project, a citizens’ platform that traces India’s lost treasures, explained the difficulty of asserting ownership over stolen antiques.
He listed the Koh-i-Noor and Golconda Orlov diamond as other examples of smuggled jewels that have found their way to other countries, including the latter which is currently located in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.
“It’s a pity that India doesn’t assert its weight in seeking to stop the open auction and display of its plundered treasures,” he added.
Ambiguity in international laws make it nearly impossible to obtain stolen items, especially considering that many of them have no documentation that would make it possible to trace back their ownership history.