National Jeweler Network

Celebrity Style

Cartier exhibition opens at Washington museum

June 13, 2014

Washington--Remarkable Cartier pieces once owned by philanthropist and businesswoman Marjorie Merriweather Post, a devoted client of the brand, are on display for public viewing.

“Cartier: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Dazzling Gems” opened on June 7 and will run through Dec. 31 at Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington.

Post, who was born in 1887 and died in 1973, inherited the Postum Cereal Company at age 27 when her father died. The company later became General Food Corp.

She began collecting Cartier pieces in the 1920s, and remained one of the company’s most important clients the rest of her life. The exhibition at Hillwood will offer perspective on the taste and refinement that characterized Post’s style, criteria for collecting and overall way of life.

“The exhibition of Post’s most important Cartier acquisitions offers a snapshot of the very time at which Cartier in the 1920s boldly embraced the modern sensibilities of the Art Deco period and attracted the interest of the world’s most visible and fashionable clientele,” said Liana Paredes, Hillwood’s director of collections and exhibition curator.

Highlights of the exhibition, which National Jeweler first reported on in March, include a brooch made of seven 17th century carved Mogul emeralds, weighing a total of 250 carats, as well as a 21-carat Colombian emerald that once had been set into a ring worn by the emperor of Mexico, Maximilian.

An arrow-shaped brooch with dangling diamond tassels that Post used as a clasp for her pearl strands and a necklace made of amethyst, turquoise and diamonds set in platinum show how Cartier adhered to the latest fashions.

Several Cartier pieces that Post donated to the Smithsonian Institute in 1964 also will be on display, such as an Indian-style necklace featuring 24 baroque-cut emerald drops. 

Today, Post’s Cartier collection remains one of the best examples of patronage of the brand in the 20th century, Hillwood said.

“Marjorie didn’t just purchase jewelry off the shelf. She was a connoisseur who knew gems and chose only those of the highest quality,” said Hillwood Executive Director Kate Markert. “She recognized great design and knew how to wear her jewelry to show it to its best advantage.”