Cartier and America Exhibit - Legion of Honor

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

One of our Favorite Past Exhibits

Diamonds really are a girl’s best friend! Cartier celebrated its 100th year in America anniversary with this eye-catching exhibit (on display at the museum from December 2009 thru’ May 2010). The jewelry and works of art included pieces from the Private Collection of Cartier. The dazzling exhibit featured a spectacular array of more than 200 objects, including jewelry of the Gilded Age and Art Deco periods. These are pieces of magnificent works of art and history. It was very rare to see an exhibit like this anywhere in the world. There was another exhibit in Paris since then, with a significant number of pieces added that weren’t available previously. There was no other place in the world (not even Cartier in Paris) where you could see this exquisite display of jewels.

Cartier exhibit at Legion of Honor, SF
Cartier exhibit at Legion of Honor, SF
Cartier exhibit at Legion of Honor, SF
Cartier exhibit at Legion of Honor, SF

Celebrity & Royalty Pieces
The exhibit followed the history of the House of Cartier and visitors got an up-close view of famous pieces owned by Americans, including a pair of rock crystal and diamond bracelets worn by Gloria Swanson in the movie “Sunset Boulevard” and Daisy Fellowes’s famous “Tutti Frutti” necklace.

Elizabeth Taylor
We loved seeing Liz Taylor’s fabulous ruby and diamond necklace, bracelet and earrings, a gift from husband Mike Todd while they were vacationing in the French Riviera in 1957. Wearing only a bathing suit and those beautiful jewels, Liz was positively glowing… wouldn’t you be too! The jewels are truly stunning. 

Duke & Duchess of Windsor
We saw the exotic “Flamingo Clip Brooch,” made up of diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, citrine and platinum. The Duke of Windsor provided Cartier with four bracelets and had the brooch made as a special order for the Duchess of Windsor in 1940. It had never been seen in a museum before this exhibit. 

The “Panther Clip” Brooch, made up of sapphires, diamonds, yellow diamonds, platinum and white gold (bought by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in 1949), was yet another exquisite piece of jewelry. It featured a 152-carat Kashmir cabochon sapphire.

Cartier exhibit at Legion of Honor, SF
Cartier exhibit at Legion of Honor, SF

Princess Grace of Monaco
For the first time, an American museum featured the personal jewelry of Princess Grace of Monaco from the time of her wedding to Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, in 1956. Pieces included her engagement ring (pictured below left), a 10.47-carat emerald-cut diamond set with two baguette diamonds mounted in platinum. Absolutely breathtaking! Her Grand Diamond Necklace (a wedding gift) was equally spectacular. Grace Kelly wore her diamond engagement ring on the set of her last film, the 1956 movie “High Society” before she became Princess of Monaco.

Cartier exhibit at Legion of Honor, SF

Lady Dudley and Daisy Fellowes
One of our favorite pieces was the “Star of South Africa” Brooch, also known as the Dudley Diamond (Lady Dudley). The historical diamond and platinum piece (pictured right) is strikingly beautiful.

Daisy Fellowes’s famous “Tutti Frutti” strap bracelet is also gorgeous.

Diamonds and Mystery Clocks
Other spectacular pieces include the 2,473-diamond “Snake Necklace” (a special order for actress Maria Félix); a gorgeous “Serpent Necklace;” three incredible Scarab Buckle Brooches; Marjorie Merriweather Post’s exquisite diamond and sapphire Collar Necklace, as well as beautiful diamond and platinum Tiaras. 

And an amazing collection of unique Mystery Clocks. The clocks are to Cartier what the Easter eggs are to Fabergé.

Exhibition curator Martin Chapman declared, “This is a great opportunity to see some of the finest pieces of jewelry, clocks, and works of art by the legendary firm of Cartier – made for Americans or made in America.”

Cartier exhibit at Legion of Honor, SF

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