One of Cartier’s Biggest Private Collectors Gets Her Own Exhibition

A collection of seminal Cartier pieces owned by social fixture and businesswoman Marjorie Merriweather Post is the subject of an upcoming exhibition in Washington, D.C. “Cartier: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Dazzling Gems” will be on view at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens—Post’s former estate—from June 7 to Dec. 31.

A handful of Posts Cartier pieces were on display in the “Cartier, Style and History” exhibit that closed in February at the Grand Palais in Paris.            

These pieces will be curated with dozens of others for the D.C. exhibit, which was designed to highlight one of the greatest private collections of historical Cartier pieces in the world. Post began collecting in 1920—when Cartier, an American brand with Parisian roots—was at its creative apex. 

Courtesy Hillwood Estate

Marjorie Merriweather Post was one of Cartier’s biggest clients in the early to mid-1900s.

Cartier opened its New York store in 1909, as Post was hitting her stride as a collector of 18th-century Louis XVI furniture. She quickly became Cartier’s best New York client (which is saying something) and was a lifelong customer. Her tastes evolved with the house; her collection includes a wide range of styles, from 1920s Art Deco to 1950s realism.

Important pieces in the collection include a brooch made from seven carved Indian emeralds, a companion Indian-style emerald necklace, and the iconic 21 ct. Maximilian emerald ring. Once owned by Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, the archduke of Austria, its emerald was reset for Post by Cartier to include baguette diamonds, which were all the rage in the Art Deco era.

Courtesy Hillwood Estate

A Cartier brooch from Post’s collection

Other dazzling pieces include an arrow-shape brooch with dangling tassels of diamonds that Post used as a clasp for her pearls; a necklace and earrings studded with amethysts, turquoise, and diamonds; and a diamond-and-sapphire necklace that Post had Cartier fashion from two existing diamond-and-sapphire bracelets (the centerpiece, a large cushion-shape sapphire surrounded by cascading diamonds, could be worn as a brooch).

Hillwood’s director of collections and exhibition curator, Liana Paredes, says the exhibition of Post’s most important Cartier acquisitions “offers a snapshot of the very time at which Cartier in the 1920s boldly embraced the modern sensibilities of the Art Deco period and attracted the interest of the world’s most visible and fashionable clientele.”

The estate has planned an array of programs surrounding the exhibition, including Be Dazzled, a private opening-night dinner party on June 3, and a lecture series that will explore the design and social aspects underpinning the relationship between Cartier and Post. 

JCK Magazine Editor