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Paris Bejeweled

Rebecca Iloulian |
February 13, 2014 | 2:52 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Cartier at the Grand Palais (Pinterest/Jenn H)
Cartier at the Grand Palais (Pinterest/Jenn H)
Celebrating over 160 years of Cartier this winter, Paris's Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées is housing an exhibit exploring the style and history of the great house of jewelry. 

Although the exhibition only runs for one more weekend, for anyone who will be in Paris--this is an absolute must-see.

One of the largest and most spectacular exhibits that the city has ever seen, the Cartier retrospective invites visitors into the rich and complex history of the major jewelry label, providing them an intimate view of some of the jeweler's most spectacular pieces ever created, many of which have never before been seen by the public. 

Inside the exhibit (Pinterest/GrandPalais)
Inside the exhibit (Pinterest/GrandPalais)

Organized by the Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais, and housed in the Palais's esteemed Salon d'Honneur room, the dazzling collection showcases over 600 pieces of jewelry, objects and timepieces, as well as nearly 300 sketches, paintings and clothing garments ranging from the founding of Cartier in 1847 up until the 1970s. The extraordinary collection of Cartier pieces belong mostly to the French Maison's personal archives, though some have also been loaned back to Cartier for their exhibit from various museums and private parties around the world. Nearly 20 pieces of jewelry were leant to the exhibit directly from the royal family of Monaco, offering visitors a priceless look into Grace of Monaco's personal jewelry collection. 

Upon entering the exhibition you'll find visitors crowding themselves around a magnificent, glass case filled with rotating sparkling diadems, floating through air like horses on a carousel, dating back to the mid nineteenth century.

Some of the standout pieces you'll find within the exhibit are Grace Kelly's engagement ring and Kate Middleton's wedding tiara, along with various personal pieces belonging to various legendary clients of the French maison, such as Elizabeth Taylor (and her well-known ruby collar necklace), the Duchess of Windsor, and American heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. The collection takes a deeper look into some of the label's most devoted, celebrity cliental throughout history, all while displaying the evolution of style and taste through time. 

Elizabeth Taylor (Pinterest/Vogue)
Elizabeth Taylor (Pinterest/Vogue)

Cartier chose not to present pieces past the 1970s to highlight the clear distinction between the label's deep rooted history and their modern day endeavors, which are quite different than that of the past for the french brand. Cartier today remains one of France's most iconic label's and offers a deep sense of pride and heritage to the country, making the collection's display in one of Paris's largest historic sites all the more fitting. The exhibition showcases Cartier's evolution and the important influence they had on a variety of cultures and styles, such as Persian and Egyptian exoticism, while also proving the label more than just a jeweler, but an artist, with the priceless history of their pieces nearly outweighing the monetary value of them.

Although the carefully curated collection provides no particular sequence of timing and is slightly scattered in chronology, the exhibit highlights the jeweler's innovation and genius, avoiding lingering over mere technical details and a simple history of fine jewelry making. The exhibit provides a unique opportunity to see the culture of the brand and the strong emotional connection it has created with its clients, and the world. 

As deemed by King Edward VII, Cartier reins as "the jeweler of kings, and the king jewelers". The Grand Palais's Cartier display truly captures the social and artistic statements the label has made throughout their 163 year history. No other exhibition can quite rival the brilliance and uniqueness of this standout Cartier exhibit. 



"Cartier: Style and History" remains on display at Paris's Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées until February 16, 2014. 

Contact Staff Reporter Rebecca Iloulian here. Follow her on Twitter.



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