No need to introduce anyone to Cartier, our finest French jewelmaker ever, the jewelmaker of all royal families and the most glamourous celebrities. A grand exhibition ended on Feb 16th at Paris Grand Palais Museum.
After queuing up under the rain last week (despite prebooked tickets), I eventually managed to enter the holy saint exhibition area. It was worth the entrance fees. 600 jewels of the most prestigious kind were on display to mesmerized visitors. There were so many masterpieces I got dizzy. As far as i could remember, it was more impressive than the Lalique or the Bulgari exhibitions.
I was especially surprised by the number of jade pieces, beautiful « new jades ». No doubt these were A grade jadestones.
Cartier is firstly famous for the tiaras. On display several top level tiaras in diamonds, turquoise, citrine, pearls, etc. Even the halo tiara worn by Kate Middleton at her wedding was there ! Honestly, it looks small next to the others. Like this one below, a suspended tiara where each diamond pendant hangs gracefully on a platinum structure. Platinum is the metal preferrably used by Cartier for its top jewels. Seems that Cartier was the first jewel maker to use it systematically on tiaras.
Cartier is not only famous as jewel maker, this luxury house also created incredible transparent clocks, called the « Mystery clocks ». At first, I did not notice anything special in those beautiful rock crystal clocks, until the explanations reminded me it was a technological exploit to make transparent clocks. There were no LCD technology in those days!
Cartier counts numerous celebrities amongst its customers, all the royal families, including Grace of Monaco , the Windsors ( two diamond flower brooches belonging to the Queen and Princess Margaret were on display plus Kate’s wedding halo tiara which belonged to Queen Mum). Screen queens ( Elizabeth Taylor of course), café society socialites ( that was before the jet society days) , all beautiful people wanted to buy Cartier jewels, clocks, and home accessories ( photo frames, beauty kits, etc).
Cartier invented many styles, or followed the styles demanded by its customers ( Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, etc). The Tutti Frutti style mixing gems of all colours is another trademark of this famous house. Hereafter the Hindu Necklace, created for a famous café society socialite.
Last but not least, the exhibition climaxed with this beautiful panther creation ( Cartier totem animal) , a platinum panther grabbing a beautiful lavender blue « cashmir saphirre » gemball. This panther belonged to the Duchess of Windsor, the late Wallis Simpson, who left her incredible collection of jewels to the Pasteur Fundation. She also owned a full range of Cartier panther jewels including another one grabbing an emerald gemball ( not on display).
In fact, you realize how extravagant some rich people could be, owning sometimes crazy heavy pieces you did not even imagine they could ever exist. Some pieces were so heavy and indecently bulky, you wondered when the owner could ever wear them. Some earrings looked like bracelets and were barely bearable for the owner. Like Louboutin shoes.
for more about Cartier, visit the links below