Hillwood Estate exhibit showcases Marjorie Merriweather Post’s jewelry by Cartier


Necklace, 1936/1937 Centerpiece by Cartier, New York Sapphires, diamonds, platinum; on view at "Cartier: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Dazzling Gems" exhibit. (Edward Owen/Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens)

The best-known collections of socialite, philanthropist and Post cereal heir Marjorie Merriweather Post were in Russian imperial art and 18th-century French decorative art. But she was also a connoisseur of all things Cartier. Decades of patronage, purchases and commissions with the famed jeweler of Paris, London and New York, made her one of their best customers.

With a number of pieces back in D.C. after a winter Cartier exhibit at the Grand Palais in Paris, the Hillwood Estate is presenting a show featuring her extensive Cartier collection — including famous pieces on loan that she had previously donated to the Museum of Natural History. Here are some figures about “Cartier: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Dazzling Gems.”

1

Rank, in importance, of Marjorie Merriweather Post as a customer of Cartier’s New York.

5

Decades during which Post purchased the latest designs and commissioned pieces from Cartier.

XVI

Monarch numeral of the French king Louis, whose queen Marie Antoinette was a source of style inspiration for Post and her contemporaries.

21

Carats in the Colombian emerald in a 1928 Cartier ring Post wore at her presentation at the Court of James in 1929.

7

Number of 17th century emeralds, weighing a total of 250 carats, in a brooch she wore and adapted over the years.

24

Number of baroque-cut emerald drops, each topped with a smaller emerald bead, in a necklace she had shortened. It’s usually on display at the National Museum of Natural History, where she donated it.

8

Number of frames on display that Post commissioned Cartier to create for family portraits, made of onyx, turquoise, diamonds, gold, enamel and other materials, from 1929 to 1935.

3

Ashtrays, in jade, agate, gold rubies, sapphires and enamels that were made in 1930 by Cartier, accompanied by a specially made cigarette box and tobacco jar.

2

Existing diamond and sapphire bracelets, combined by Cartier at Post’s request in 1936, when her husband Joseph E. Davies was appointed ambassador to Moscow.

6

Length, in months, of the exhibit “Cartier: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Dazzling Gems” at Hillwood.

25

Acres on the estate, whose grounds and gardens are a major part of any visit to the Hillwood.

37

Years the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens have been open to the public.

Catlin is a freelance writer.

“Cartier: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Dazzling Gems” continues at the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, 4155 Linnean Ave. NW, through Dec. 31. Call 202-686-5807 or visit www.hillwoodmuseum.org.

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