Cartier: The Exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia has wowed people since its opening in March. Walking through the displays show casing over 300 sparkling pieces, you can understand why the House of Cartier is known for its elegant, opulent and original designs that have always been associated with glamour. I went for the day to experience it for myself.
The collection spanned across the decades, featuring assorted designs and themes. The best part was the stories about the people who owned them. Nellie Melba is such an example, an Australian opera singer who conquered the stage in both Europe and America, with the help of Cartier commissioned designs. Cigarette cases locked behind glass showed some insight into the party girls of the roaring 20’s, girls who were draped in so much wealth that their cigarette-holder where made from gold and bejewelled with blue sapphires. It was strange of imagine the people the items belonged too, how they lived and who they were. For a moment in time, while I read the inscriptions about the designs, why they were made, someone’s history was in front of me. This was as amazing as the designs themselves and hit home when I saw Coco Chanels cigarette case embossed with the iconic C; made of diamonds of course.
The first thing I noticed when I walked through the main doors into the darkened room was the light reflecting from jewels encased, the shadows used to add impact. The cases revealed sparkling tiaras designed for high society, clocks, jewels, cigarette cases embossed with gemstones and jewellery worn by some of the most iconic figures of the 20th century. Towards the end of the exhibition it was almost overwhelming, all the jewels, history and skilled design reaching a crescendo as you walked past Elizabeth Taylor’s ruby necklace and Princess Grace of Monaco’s iconic engagement ring, the eyes of modern celebrities watching from the walls as you admire the eternal beauty of the designs.
Cartier: The Exhibition was exquisite. The whole experience was worth the cues and the dark rooms overflowing with people. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend and this exhibition gets 5 out of 5.