The curators’ immersion of the jewelry into a tableau of textiles, dresses, and photographs from corresponding time periods elevate the exhibit to the level of cultural history. The colonial era comes to life in designs influenced by the British-held Egypt and India, most notably in the Maharaja of Patiala’s 1928 commission of a necklace of diamonds, rubies, and a 234-carat yellow diamond centerpiece, which blends traditional Indian aesthetics with the then-dominant Western art deco motif.
Many of the exhibit’s pieces were drawn from Cartier’s archives, but private collections and collectors also loaned special pieces. Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond flower brooch, which features the Williamson pink diamond, is on display. Also on loan is the Queen’s Halo tiara, made in 1936, and made famous by the Duchess of Cambridge when it counted for both her “something borrowed” and “her something old” for her wedding to Prince William.