Wildly Precious: Inside Stories from the World’s Most Exclusive Cartier Collections

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Treasures from the collections of the Duchess of Windsor, Cole Porter, and Maria Felix. Images courtesy of Cartier.

If you live in Denver, starting today you can be one of the lucky few to check out the world-exclusive exhibition of Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century, featuring all things Cartier from 1900-1975.

As with any storied brand, the history is filled with *gems,* enough so, that you may want to check this exhibition out with a tour guide. I spoke to Andrea Shapiro, a docent at the DAM, who gave me some lessons in Cartier history.

The pièce de résistance belonged to Mexican film star Maria Felix, who was “described as the most beautiful face in the history of Mexican cinema,” and “played daring and even dangerous female characters,” Shapiro told me. And…Felix had a thing for Cartier. She liked her jewelry bold and distinctive–and had a special penchant for gems shaped like reptiles.

“Notice the necklace she is wearing in the photo below,” Shapiro pointed out, “It’s two crocodiles hanging around her neck. The story goes that she carried a real live baby crocodile into Cartier’s office and said: ‘Quick!  Model it before it gets any bigger!'”


The resulting green crocodile necklace is “covered in one thousand emeralds. The other one, one thousand diamonds. They are completely articulated and flexible so they can move and wiggle like real crocodiles, and the feet can be replaced by clawless paws so as not to irritate the skin while wearing,” Shapiro explained, noting the intricate details that make up some of the world’s very finest jewelry.

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Photo: Vincent Wulveryck, Cartier Collection © Cartier

For more Cartier gems, check out the exhibit, on view November 16, 2014 through March 15, 2015.

To buy tickets in advance, click here.