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Cartier in America @ the Legion

 

 

What better antidote to a cold, gray winter’s eve than some shimmering, hot gemstones?

Fine jewelry fans are abuzz over the soon-to-open Cartier and America exhibition at the Fine Arts Museums’ Legion of Honor.

The exhibition will feature more than 300 pieces of Cartier jewelry and precious objets culled from collections the world over. Including jewels and the engagement ring belonging to the late Princess Grace of Monaco which is on loan from her son, H.S.H. Prince Albert II.

Following are a few photos featuring the show’s eye-popping gems -- and the stylish folks who made the jewelry house famous.

Known as, “the king of jewelers and jeweler to kings,” this storied joaillier was founded in 1847 in Paris by Louis-François Cartier.

Yet Cartier’s fame is not only attributed to its exquisite design work but also its excellent timing -- born at the dawn of Europe’s Belle Époque, the jewelry house has remained fashionable through such other stylish eras as the Gilded Age, the Roaring Twenties, the Jet Set and that era when Social X-rays danced around a Bonfire of the Vanities.

Cartier Fun Facts:

In the swinging sixties, Dame Elizabeth Taylor was one Cartier’s best clients. Or rather, the lucky recipient of numerous Cartier gifts from her numerous husbands.

In 1937, Wallis Simpson and her beau, King Edward VIII, exchanged their vows with Cartier wedding bands. Following, that is, his abdication from the throne of England. Somewhat ironically, the joaillier seemed to provide a leitmotif in the royal's life, as in 1902 the then-Prince of Wales ordered a batch of 27 tiaras from Cartier in preparation for his coronation. But, no regrets there: The down-graded Duke continued to shower Simpson throughout her life with goodies housed in Cartier’s iconic red box.

Magazine editor and Singer Sewing machine heiress Daisy Fellowes was known as, “the world’s most elegant woman.” In the thirties, she commissioned Cartier to create a Mughul-inspired necklace whose colorful gems (a riot of rubies, emeralds, diamonds and sapphries) became known as Tutti Frutti.

The iconic Panther motif, which graces everything Cartier from brooches to stationary, was introduced in 1914 by Cartier master jeweler Jeanne Toussaint whose style (and temperament) inspired Louis Cartier to nickname her The Panther.

Pierre Cartier, a grandson of the founder, was once the owner of the deep-blue, 45.52 carat Hope Diamond. Long reputed to be cursed, the bauble now resides within the safe confines of the Smithsonian.

Dapper gent John Traina is something of a local expert on Cartier. Not only is he the proud owner of a platinum Cartier cigarette case which is trimmed with sapphires, its provenance dazzles, too: it was first gifted to Somerset Maugham by Tyrone Power during the 1946 filming of Maugham’s novel, The Razor’s Edge.

Cartier and America opens on December 19 at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 34th Avenue and Clement Street, San Francisco. (415) 750-3600.

Check out more photos below

1951 Cartier ruby and diamond necklace/ By John Bigelow Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor, in 1958, wears the Cartier necklace pictured above which was given to her by then-husband Mike Todd /© Photofest

Cartier's 1932 London necklace is set in platinum and sports round, rose-cut diamonds and a cushion-shaped polished 143.23 carat emerald /By Nick Welsh for the Cartier Collection © Cartier

Pierre Cartier with his wife and daughter in 1926 /Library of Congress

 

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

Original sketch of the above pictured Bib necklace /Cartier Archives © Cartier

Cartier's 1970s-era Crocodile gold necklace is set with 1,023 brilliant-cut fancy intense yellow diamonds weighing 60.02 carats intotal, two navette-shaped emerald cabochons, 1,060 emeralds weighing 66.86 carats in total, and two ruby cabochons /By Nick Welsh for the Cartier Collection © Cartier