(SAN FRANCISCO) - Opening tomorrow, the Legion of Honor’s stunning world exclusive, “Cartier and America,” offers a unique opportunity to see some of the luxury jeweler’s most impressive pieces, many seen here for the first time.
While many will flock to see the personal diamond suite worn by Princess Grace of Monaco — certainly nothing to sniff at, with her 10.47 carat, emerald-cut diamond ring with two baguettes set in platinum — others will want to imagine what it would be like to be Elizabeth Taylor, laying in the sun on Cap-Ferrat in 1957 and “surprised” by then-husband Mike Todd with an intoxicating suite of diamonds and rubies in a necklace and matching earrings. In the accompanying home movie from that time, Taylor is so escstatic she puts them on then and there, despite the fact she is on the beach in a one-piece white bathing suit. Why not?
The show tells a compelling tale not just of wealth and lavish lifestyles but of the craft of creating jewelry that spoke as much of the period as it did of those who wore them. These are jewels that were loved for their stunning beauty and magic, and now, with most who owned these long gone, their fire still burn. These are gems that are sure to mesmerize a perhaps more sober audience of museum visitors, who might wonder, in such economic times: why did they spend money on these things? Honey, if you have to ask you’ll never know.
Read my San Francisco Chronicle interview with exhibition curator Martin Chapman and Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s image, style, and heritage director. Click here.
Cartier and America opens tomorrow and runs through April 18, 2010. Hours are Tuesday – Sunday, 9:30AM – 5:15PM. Closed Monday. Admission is $10 adults, $7 seniors, $6 youths 13-17 and students with college ID. General admission is free the first Tuesday of every month. For more information, legionofhonor.org.