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The Broadview

The student news site of Convent of the Sacred Heart High School

The Broadview

The student news site of Convent of the Sacred Heart High School

The Broadview

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The Archives

Cartier jewels come to Legion of Honor

Meghan Helms
Assistant A&E Editor

One hundred years of American culture is explored through Cartier jewelry at the “Cartier and America” exhibit now showing at the Legion of Honor.

The exhibit shows over 300 bejeweled objects ranging from the diamond and platinum jewelry of the Louis XVI revival to the colorful stones of the 1920s and the more modern jewelry of the late Princess Grace of Monaco.

Most of the jewelry on display belonged to the wealthiest and most influential people of the time. The Vanderbilt, Townsend and Post families,and other American families who owned such influential companies as American Telephone and Telegraph Company, General Foods and Singer Sewing Machine.

On exhibit with the jewelry is an ad campaign poster partnered with Cadillac from 1956, featuring a red car and diamonds with text reading, “This could be your someday.” Images like this and the success stories of the families who own most of the jewelry represent the American Dream of wealth and fame, a theme illustrated throughout the exhibit.

The magnitude and intricacy of the jewelry is one of the most engrossing features of the exhibit’s display. A 47.60-carat diamond sparkles under the brilliance of display lights and an elaborate twisting brooch shaped as flowers and leaves lies pinned up against black velvet.

Cartier’s expertise was not limited to jewelry. The exhibit also displays the famous Mystery Clocks, clocks that work without any apparent motor or gears, which are curious even to the modern eye. Tiny hands embedded in crystals seem to float without gears or other forms of mechanization, leaving even the viewers who live in a time of computers and cell phones to wonder how they work.

The versatility of each piece of jewelry is unexpected. A diamond and platinum tiara lies dismantled into multiple bracelets and pendants on black velvet and a pearl and diamond necklace can be dismantled into smaller necklaces and bracelets.

“The Portrait of Marjorie Merriweather Post and Her Daughter” by Giulio de Blaas features Post wearing the Cartier pendant brooch featuring Indian-carved emeralds and diamonds, and created for the American socialite and founder of General Foods, Inc. in 1928
“The Portrait of Marjorie Merriweather Post and Her Daughter” by Giulio de Blaas features Post wearing the Cartier pendant brooch featuring Indian-carved emeralds and diamonds, and created for the American socialite and founder of General Foods, Inc. in 1928

Not to be missed is the room filled with jeweler’s concept sketches for many of the pieces exhibited later in the exhibit. These sketches illustrate the uniqueness of many of the pieces which where designed specifically for and with the help of the customer.

The exhibit is easy to navigate and the pieces are displayed under light that makes the pieces sparkle brilliantly. The only aspect missing is information—most placards simply tell what the jewelry is made of and read “Cartier Collection” — leaving the viewer to wonder why the piece was made and if it was even ever worn.

“Cartier and America” is on exhibit until April 18. The Legion of Honor is opened Tuesday-Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $6 for students with school I.D. For more information visit http://www.legionofhonor.org

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