In November 1983, Christie's auctioned in Geneva two very fine yellow diamonds, both clearly of South African origin: a cushion shape of 139.38 metric carats and a rectangular cushion shape of 132.42 metric carats. The larger of the two, known as the 'Mahjal' was sold for 1,320,000 Swiss Francs (£412,500). It is said to have been worn as a turban piece by Jagatjit Singh Bahadur, Maharajah of Kapurthala, a small princely state in the Punjab.
The Maharajah of Kapurthala (1872-1949) was a colourful figure. He was entitled to a salute (personal ) of fifteen guns and salute (local permanent) of fifteen. On a quieter note he was the owner of a vast array of clocks which necessitated the employment of a servant for the express purpose of keeping them wound up. He was also a great lover of France which led him to build a palace closely modelled on Versailles; the incongruity of such a building within sight of the snowcapped Himalayas was not unnaturally apt to take visitors by surprise.
Comments will be approved before showing up.