3 Mar

I am not fancy. Occasionally, I put on make up or straighten my hair. I sometimes wear costume jewelry; “going out” entails pinning a brooch to my jacket or stringing gold chains with chunky charms around my neck. Mostly, it takes me literally 15 minutes to be dressed and out the door. I do, however, appreciate fancifulness. Last week, my mom and I ventured to San Francisco’s Legion of Honor to view their Cartier and America Exhibit.

It was down pouring outside, which really made it a perfect museum day.

The exhibit itself was really extensive. The collection is huge, and it seems like the jewels go on forever and ever. This particular exhibition was only dealing with Cartier pieces that were commissioned or purchased by Americans. Most of the jewelry belonged to heiresses of the industrial era. One that kept coming up, as in she owned an enormous amount of the pieces on display, was Marjorie Merriweather Post — the daughter of the creator of Post Cereal.

The keystone piece, the one used in most of the advertising for the event, used on all the banners around town and is featured as the very first thing you see when you enter the exhibition is this one:

Pendant brooch made by Cartier London, 1923, altered for Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973) by Cartier New York, 1928. Emeralds, diamonds, platinum, and enamel; length 8 inches.

Yes, those are large drops of emeralds, emblazoned with diamonds and platinum, of course! CRAZY! But that wasn’t my favorite, in fact, it couldn’t be found on my top ten. I was more akin to the likes of this one:

Amethysts, turquoise, diamonds, platinum and gold. Made in 1947 for the Duchess of Windsor. Brilliant.

And Elizabeth Taylor’s rubies were stunning:

My favorite part of the exhibit was actually that they included the artists’ sketches, like this one (of the keystone piece):

It was really great to be able to see the process, from idea to finished product. I was disappointed that there was no credit given to individual jewelers/designers… it was all just “Cartier.”

We were joined by a large crowd of decked out old ladies (we’re talking large velour hats, white leather gloves, lots of boots, Burberry skirts and plastic hair scarves), which only made the people watching after the exhibit that much better.


One Response to “Cartier”

  1. molm March 21, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    The jewelry was absolutely goregeous, the craftsmanship and aritistry amazing! I was also happy to learn that many of the owners of this jewelry were also very generous, giving much to those who were much less fortunate than themselves! A must see exhibit if you are in the area!

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