Cartier, the king of jewelers

Quality is timeless.

Yet, visitors to San Francisco’s Legion of Honor will get a rare treat and the opportunity to peer back through time — more than
100 years of famed French jewelry house Cartier’s presence in this country — to see famous jewels, singular gemstones and intriguing mystery clocks created for icons, screen stars and royalty.

Some 300 exquisite objects, from the early 20th-century Belle Epoque period through the 1960s and ’70s, will be on display in “Cartier and America.” The world exclusive exhibit opens Saturday and runs through April 18.

What makes this exhibition important, says Fine Arts Museums Director John Buchanan, is that it focuses on Americans who owned the spectacular pieces.

The show, according to Buchanan, has three primary themes: “First, there are these incredible stones, then the sentimental jewelry owned by American screen idols and celebrities, and then, of course, the clocks are magnificent.”

Cartier, called “king of jewelers and jeweler to the kings,” designed jewelry for Hollywood royalty like Elizabeth Taylor, Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford. The Dutchess of Windsor also was a valued customer.

“Cartier and America” features, for the first time, Princess Grace of Monaco’s personal jewelry, including her 10.47-carat, emerald-cut diamond ring with two baguettes set in platinum, her significant diamond necklace and her signature gold “bird” brooches.

One particularly interesting item is the Tutti Frutti necklace, a medley of hundreds of precious and semiprecious stones fabricated for socialite and Singer sewing machine heiress Daisy Fellowes in the 1920s.

Another unique piece created in the 1920s, from a collection owned by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and lent to the museum by Post’s Hillwood Estate Museum in Washington, D.C., is a brooch incorporating rare Indian carved emeralds, one dating from the 16th-century Mughal era.

“Mystery” clocks, lent to the museum from the Lindemann Collection of Palm Beach, are so named because they represent the “art of illusion” and artistic individuality. Created in 1913, the first was sold to the American mogul J.P. Morgan.

“I think in these times visitors should take away the idea that whatever is the best that there is, that is lasting — jewelry, art, furniture, is worthwhile collecting and viewing,” says Diane B. Wilsey, president of the Fine Arts Museums board of directors.

“That’s what the Fine Arts Museums stand for, and what Cartier has done for 100 years.”

IF YOU GO
Cartier and America

Where: Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, 34th Avenue and Clement Street, San Francisco
When: Opens Saturday; 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays; closes April 18
Tickets: $16 to $20, includes special exhibit surcharge
Contact: (415) 750-3600, www.legionofhonor.org

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Dave Hodges, pastor at Zide Door, the Church of Entheogenic Plants that include marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, holds some psychedelic mushrooms inside the Oakland church on Friday, July 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Psychedelic spirituality: Inside a growing Bay Area religious movement

‘They are guiding us into something ineffable’

San Francisco Police stand guard outside the Mission Police Station during a protest over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fired: California bill aims to decertify police for serious misconduct

By Robert Lewis CalMatters On a Wednesday afternoon in April 2018, Gardena… Continue reading

The Giants and Dodgers face each other again following a May series the Dodgers swept; Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux caught stealing by Giants second baseman Donovan Solano at Oracle Park on May 23 is pictured. 
Chris Victorio/
Special to The Examiner
Giants vs. Dodgers: What you need to know before this week’s huge series

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner That grinding noise you’ll hear… Continue reading

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that state employees and health care workers must be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing and wear masks. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters)
California orders vaccine or testing for health care workers, state employees

By Ana B. Ibarra CalMatters Amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases and… Continue reading

Jeremy Kahn and Monica Ho are excellent in San Francisco Playhouse’s production of Lauren Yee’s “The Song of Summer,” being presented live and online. (Courtesy Jessica Palopoli)
Touching relationship at heart of ‘Song of Summer’

Lighthearted SF Playhouse show ‘feels right for this moment’

Most Read