Champagne Wishes and Cartier Dreams...Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Recently, I checked out the Cartier and America exhibition at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. The retrospective is a celebration of Cartier’s 100th anniversary in America. The collection features close to 300 jewelry and decorative items from the Hollywood elite to America’s jet set at the turn of the 20th century.
As a huge fan of jewelry, my goal was mostly to check out all the shimmering, hot gemstones. The eye-popping gem candy of the fortunate few had me audibly gasping.
I wasn’t sure how much inspiration I would to take away from the event, as “the king of jewelers and jeweler to kings” seemed so luxurious and totally out of my league. I was wrong. There were 3 major inspirations I walked away with.
1. Integrate interesting colors, gemstones, and textures when designing. Cartier had an exquisite talent for combining unique gemstones and colors. They didn’t always go with the more well known precious stone combinations, such as diamonds and rubies, diamonds and pearls...diamonds and anything. A few combinations I thought were very cool were a jade and ruby ring, an amethyst, diamond, and turquoise necklace (which was more like a bib), and coral and lapis brooch.
2. One piece of jewelry can be versatile. Some of Cartier’s designs were created to be convertible. For instance, a diamond tiara could be transformed into two bracelets and a brooch. A long diamond necklace could be modified into a shorter necklace and two bracelets. A necklace could be worn as a belt. I love the idea of being able to wear one piece of jewelry different ways with different outfits.
3. Jewelry is recyclable. Many of Cartier’s wealthy patrons had their jewelry altered or remade into new personal works of art. If they got tired of a bracelet, they had it turned into a necklace. The Duke of Windsor had a necklace and four little gemstone bracelets made into an extraordinary flamingo brooch for Wallis Simpson. That’s the awesome thing about jewelry - it can be reborn again into a new creation to suit changes in taste, changes in fashion, or changes in time.
If you love jewelry, the Cartier exhibition is a must see. It will be at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco through April.