Cartier's jewels dazzle in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra

Cartier's jewels dazzle in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra

Cartier, the exhibition

Text: Milena Lazazzera

For the first time, Cartier is staging a showcase of over 300 jewellery masterpieces at The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra

Jewellery is about defining moments as much as it is about precious stones and precise craft. This new exhibition staged by Cartier at The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra until the 22nd of July abounds such moment-defining jewellery pieces. On display there is the legendary Halo Tiara, initially offered by King George to Queen Elizabeth, which is indelibly impressed in our collective memory on the head of Kate Middleton when she walked down the hall to marry Prince William.

And on loan from the Collection of the Princely Palace of Monaco, visitors can gape at another symbol of love from another princely fairytale: The 10.48-carat diamond engagement ring that Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco received from Prince Rainier III in 1956.

Kate Middleton wearing the Cartier Halo Tiara

In one of her more famous portrait Mexican actress María Félix, also known as María Bonita, or 'the most beautiful face in the history of Mexican cinema' is exuding her Latin charm. Cigarillo dangling from her red lips, holding an embellished black felt Fedora hat with her left over-jewelled arm, she wears a bright red shirt sealed at the neck by a golden crocodile-shaped necklace signed by Cartier.

María Félix wearing the Cartier Crocodile necklace

These are only some of the highlights of this exclusive exhibition co-curated by Margaret Young-Sánchez from the Denver Art Museum and the NGA, besides significant timepieces, jewellery, archival drawings, photographs, and ephemera. The idiosyncratic Cartier style transcending time and trends unifies the display of pieces of different inspiration from Art Deco to 'Tutti Frutti' or imbued with Asian or Indian influences.

In a setting designed by internationally-renowned scenographer Nathalie Crinière, "... the jewels of spectacular calibre and size, amongst the most important in the world, magnificently set by Cartier's renowned craftsmen will be exhibited only in Canberra," comments Gerard Vaughan, NGA director. "It is a collection of immeasurable quality and value, the likes of which have never been seen in this country before, and may never be again. Years of research and gentle persuasion will deliver an unforgettable experience."

Cartier-Burton-Taylor diamond

"Cartier represents the poetic amalgamation of art, passion, and style. Jewellery is a language of love, and this exhibition, organised by the NGA, represents a gift of love to the Australian people," said Pierre Rainero, Cartier's director of image, style and heritage. It is a compelling reason to visit Canberra and let our eyes travel through history, time and wonder at these bejewelled beauties. 

The Cartier exhibition at The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra runs until 22 July.