Entertainment

Exhibit featuring timeless Cartier pieces comes to SF

Friday, December 18, 2009

There is a dazzling display of work by the man known as the king of jewelers, opening at the Legion of Honor. "Cartier and America" celebrates 100 years of artistry and excess.

It is an array of more than 200 objects from the Gilded Age and Art Deco to contemporary times.

Cartier achieved world fame because celebrities coveted the jewelry.

Some of it is excessive like the ones Gloria Swanson wore in "Sunset Boulevard."

We're fascinated by the quality of the work, the design and the artistry.

"You have the stones to look at, you also have the artistry and the uniqueness such as the mystery clocks," said Fine Arts Museums Director John Buchanan.

While Faberge had his eggs, Cartier achieved fame with his mystery clocks.

"The mechanism for the movement is hidden," said Buchanan.

There's a clock designed for Franklin D. Roosevelt displaying five time zones -- a necessity when the country was at war.

The duke and duchess of Windsor were big customers. Her signature was a panther, like the one shown at the exhibit. The man who never became king and his wife lived lavishly.

"Then there are the works that are purely sentimental for us Americans. Owned by, commissioned by and worn by famous Americans," said Buchanan.

Producer Mike Todd gave his wife Elizabeth Taylor a necklace. She has loaned it to the museum for this exhibition.

Grace Kelly was an actress who became a princess. Her engagement ring is nearly 10.5 carats. It's here, along with royal jewels.

Cartier created more than jewelry that fashionable women wear. He created works of art.

Most of the pieces have come from the Cartier archives in Switzerland and they glitter. But trying to put a price tag on a lot of these is nearly impossible. The exhibit runs into next April.

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san francisco bay, legion of honor, museum exhibit, entertainment, don sanchez
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