Washington sparkle in Paris: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Cartier jewels

December 4, 2013

Washington is known for many things but — aside from the Hope Diamond — dazzling jewelry isn’t one of them. But thanks to heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, D.C. is well-represented at “Cartier: Style and History” which opened Wednesday at the Grand Palais in Paris.


Portrait of Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1946 by Frank O. Salisbury. Post wears Cartier diamond and sapphire Art Deco necklace. (Courtesy of Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens)

The exhibition, billed as the largest collection of works by the famed French jeweler, features 600 pieces created from 1847 to 1970 and worn by Queen Elizabeth II, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, the Duchess of Windsor— and 15 pieces owned by Post and loaned by Hillwood Museum.

Courtesy of Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens
Courtesy of Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens

A section of the exhibit is devoted to the multimillionaire cereal heiress, who had an eye (and pocketbook) for precious jewels. Hillwood shipped over two showstoppers: a spectacular 1937 sapphire and diamond necklace (which converts into two bracelets and a brooch) and her massive 1928 emerald and diamond brooch made of seven carved Indian emeralds. The museum also sent along two portraits of Post wearing the pieces and a collection of jeweled frames she commissioned to complement her photographs and miniature oil painting.

Not headed for Paris in the next couple months? Post’s Cartier pieces, which are typically shown individually in rotation at the museum, will be assembled for a special exhibition at Hillwood starting in June.

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Michael Livingston | December 3, 2013