The moment King Edward VII purchased his first piece of Cartier jewellery in 1901, Maison Cartier became the ‘joaillier des rois, roi des joailliers’—‘jeweller of kings, king of jewellers’. Since then, the British Royal family has commissioned, cherished and gifted Cartier, wearing incredible pieces to the royal milestones of the 20th century and beyond.
At Cartier: The Exhibition, visitors will come face-to-face with Queen Elizabeth II’s personal Cartier collection. Most famously, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II loaned her Cartier Halo tiara to Catherine Middleton in 2011 for her fairy tale wedding to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.
The Queen has also generously lent the NGA her treasured jonquil brooch, a personal favourite worn to the weddings of both of her sons. The brooch boasts the world’s largest known pink diamond. In 1947, the newly discovered uncut 54.5 carat jewel was presented as a wedding gift from Canadian Dr John Williamson. In 1953, the Queen commissioned Cartier London to design the Williamson brooch, starring a 23.6 carat cut of the diamond. This spectacular stone is set amongst a staggering 203 brilliant, baguette and marquise cut diamonds.
India’s Nizam of Hyderabad Asaf Jah VII was also present at Elizabeth’s wedding. He reserved several pieces at Cartier’s London boutique, allowing the young princess to choose her wedding gift. She chose a platinum and diamond necklace, featuring a large pear-shaped diamond with emerald-cut diamonds.
Following her coronation in 1954, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II wore the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace on her first official event in Sydney during an eight-week tour of Australia. This necklace has also been lent to Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge on occasion.
Visitors to the NGA will be able to see this beautiful necklace on display at Cartier: The Exhibition until 22 July.
It’s no secret royal weddings bring out the very best of Cartier, but we will all have to wait with bated breath to see if Meghan Markle and Prince Harry carry on the Cartier tradition on 19 May.
Cartier: The Exhibition opens 30 March until 22 July. Tickets available from Ticketek.