Cartier Exhibition Canberra

Last week, I took the 7-8 hour drive up to Canberra for the Cartier Exhibition at the National Gallery.

Louis-Francois Cartier founded the firm in 1847. It was taken over by his son, Alfred in 1874, who was later joined by his three sons, Louis, Pierre and Jacques. By the early 1900s, they had branches in Paris, London and New York, and the House of Cartier became the world’s most prestigious designer of jewellery, luxury accessories and timepieces.

These are just a few of the pieces in the exhibition. The photos are not wonderful, because of the glass cases they were in and also because diamonds do sparkle enough to mess up a photo.

This is the one that greeted me as I entered.

Laurel wreath tiara, ordered by Princess Marie Bonaparte for her wedding to Prince George of Greece.
478 carat sapphire with clasp of diamonds
Scarab brooch from Egyptian collection. Gold, platinum, diamonds, ruby, citrine and onyx.








One of the reasons I took the trek up to Canberra was that the tiara Catherine wore for her marriage to Prince William was going to be there. And there it was.

And here is Princess Margaret wearing it


The tiara was lent to her by the Queen










This diamond necklace was one of the gifts given to the Queen by the Nizam of Hyderabad, for her wedding to Prince Phillip. She took it with her on her 1954 tour of Australia and it’s the one featured in the William Darbie portrait that we grew up looking at. The Queen lent it for the exhibition.

This brooch belonged to Princess Margaret, made in the perfect shape of a rose, with petals, leaves and stem of diamonds. I think that’s it attached to pearls in the previous photo.

Bracelet. Platinum,diamonds, emerald, rubies, onyx
Choker for someone with a long neck
54.5 carat pink diamond jonquil brooch, one of the Queen’s favourite jewels, worn at the weddings of Prince Charles and Prince Edward

Smoking was considered an art form in the early 20th century, can you believe it, and wealthy people splashed out on its accessories.

Gold cigarette lighter with watch
Agate cigarette case with sapphire and diamond clip

I could definitely have seen myself with this gold cigarette case and lighter in my early smoking days, slipped, needless to say, into my Cartier purse. Love the emerald clip.

Cosmetics purse









A few more tiaras. This one was borrowed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s wife for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. A bit flowery for me.

I’ve always loved aquamarines.

Bandeau. Platinum and an awful lot of diamonds

This Lapis Lazuli desk ink stand and clock were also lent by the Queen.

Dolphin bangle. 1028 brilliant-cut diamonds and emeralds. Would be a bit hard on the wrist, I would imagine, after a while
Jade elephant clock from the Asian collection

This bracelet-watch made of rubies and diamonds was so beautiful, so delicate, I considered smashing the glass and making a run for it. I don’t think I would have got far so I decided against it. The photo doesn’t do anything for it. It was quite red and now I know I’ve got a thing for rubies.

This necklace may be a little over the top but each to his own. The emerald is 143.23 carats.

Diamond bird brooch


Palm tree clip brooch











These two necklaces are a bit different to the others on show. I definitely have a thing for Burmese rubies.

To finish off, I thought this tiara was lovely – a bit more understated than the rest. I loved the onyx pattern. I think it belonged to Dame Nellie Melba, who had a considerable jewellery collection.

The exhibition takes you through the various eras and changes in fashion and design over the 20th century and it’s fascinating.


16 thoughts on “Cartier Exhibition Canberra

  1. Penny Caulfield

    I think I would have attempted a smash and grab on Marie Bonaparte’s tiara, very me and would look lovely with my dressing gown, well I wouldn’t be able to wear it out would I hahaha


  2. So luxurious and glamorous, Coral! You must have had an awesome time there and those tiaras are breathtaking. Thanks for sharing pictures from this exhibition and bringing it closer to us who couldn’t be there!


  3. Pingback: Canberra, Australia – Planning to the Nth

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