We’ve grown used to fashion and related objects being the subject of exhibitions at our major galleries but a commercially branded show such as Cartier: The Exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia is unusual. I suppose we shouldn’t get too concerned about the commercial aspect since it has been good enough for the Queen to lend items from the Royal Collection and her personal collection providing a good opportunity to see dazzling and historic jewellery at close range. These include the Halo Tiara worn by the Duchess of Cambridge at her wedding to Prince William. There are also items worn by Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace, the Duchess of Windsor and Dame Nellie Melba. Loans have been facilitated by the Smithsonian Institute and by the Victoria and Albert Museum which presented its spectacular Tiaras exhibition several years ago. For the Diamond Jubilee, there was a splendid exhibition at Buckingham Palace of royal jewels including the excellent Wattle Spray Brooch, Australia’s 1954 gift to the Queen. Made by Paul Schneller at Wm. Drummond, Melbourne, it was also shown at the Powerhouse.
Cartier was established in Paris in 1847; its London branch opened in 1902, New York in 1909; now in almost every shopping mall the world over. Since the 1970s, the Cartier Collection has been reassembling objects of significance from its past output to create an historical account of evolutions within decorative arts and society. Maybe diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
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