A while back, I posted about the Cartier exhibit currently at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco( read it here). Over the weekend, I finally made it up there to take in the gems and history in person. It was truly a breathtaking exhibit-the collection curated was some of the most beautiful jewelry I have ever seen. What really stood out to me where the Mughal inspired pieces-I was drawn to any pieces that included amethyst and turquoise. Below is the best example inspired by the jewels of India.
This particular piece was commissioned for the Duchess of Windsor in 1947. 1947 Cartier Bib necklace crafted from platinum, 18-carat and 20-carat gold, a heart-shaped faceted amethyst, twenty-seven emerald-cut amethysts, an oval faceted amethyst, turquoise cabochons and baguette-cut diamonds /By Nick Welsh for the Cartier Collection © Cartier
My other favorite pieces from the collections were the exotics-Mexican actress, Maria Felix, commissioned some pretty remarkable pieces including a serpent choker consisting of over 2,000 diamonds and the Crocodile choker below-
Legend has it that the Mexican movie star Maria Felix appeared at Cartier’s rue de la Paix store with a baby crocodile model for the necklace. The result was a dramatic, masterly creation that could be worn as two brooches or as a necklace. Each crocodile is made of articulated gold sections. One is set with 1,023 yellow diamonds and has emeralds for eyes. The other has 1,060 emeralds and ruby eyes.
Here is a picture of the actress wearing her creation:
Of course, all the pieces were stunning. What I learned that was so fascinating was that in the early years, all the jewelry was set in silver. In 1900, Cartier began setting the stones in platinum which allowed more diamonds to be compressed in the piece, which in turn, allowed him to sell more diamonds. Cartier’s biggest clients dictated how the jewelry should be set according to the fashions of the time. The exhibit points out that jewelry set in gold was considered less formal (for daytime) than pieces set in platinum, until the Duchess of Windsor started wearing gold more formally. Furthermore, many clients would constantly change the look of a piece also depending on the current fashions. The exhibit not only highlights the gorgeous pieces owned by some of the wealthiest and fashionable ladies, but it is a real glimpse into the social history of fashion throughout the ages. It is a definite must see if you are in San Francisco!