27 October 2009

Hardware at HILLWOOD, & Ladies of the Club

knock knock?

& more about Hillwood- It is impressive. It is FABULOUS! As I mentioned in a previous post- when I go through these grand houses I like to find things I can take home-that is to say IDEAS I can take home.

An Emerald?

1929 Giulio De Blaas
this portrait of MMP & her daughter Nedinia hangs in the upstairs hall

Why Yes- I will, thank you-I admit it to be one of my favourite stones & NO I don't have any-YET.

Have a look at Mrs Post's:

this breathtaking photograph is from the November Town & Country

click to Enlarge the images to see the incredible detail

I am woefully inadequate to talk about emeralds-any kind of jewel. I turned to the expert- Debra Healy. She is a fine jeweler,an authority on & a historian of jewelry & launched two blogs in the Summer. Her books include : Tiffany et les Joialliers Americains, American Jewelry: Glamour & Tradition, Hollywood Jewels: Movies, Jewelry & Stars. Her absolutely wonderful blogs are Diamonds & Rhubarb (here)- and Paris Originals (here). Neither will disappoint.

Debra said:

From ancient Sanskrit sources it is known that emeralds have be valued and used for over 1500 years in India. After Pizarro’s ruthless conquest of the Incas, even new world emeralds found there way into royal Indian collections. The princely states of India were ready recipients for any fine large stones found throughout the world .

The Large Central Stone In Mrs. Post’s brooch has a carved Mughal floral motif . It is roughly dated from its inscription “The servant of Shah Abbas” it is not known weather it was Shah Abbas I (1557-1629) or Shah Abbas II (1633-1667). It is known that large emeralds were coveted by Shah Jahan, a contemporary of Shah Abbas II. The other emeralds in this piece were probably carved in the 19th century.

This Brooch was originally made by Cartier London for stock in 1923. It was altered by Cartier New York for Mrs. E.F. Hutton ( Marjorie Merriweather Post) in 1928. It was later altered again in 1941 to its present shortened form.

I love these Mughal emeralds they were handled so deftly by Cartier during this period. The carved emeralds give an exotic orientalist flair to these large sumptuous jewels. They are set off so perfectly by the hard edges of the brilliantly cut diamonds and black enamel.

(Can you imagine that it was shortened in 1941 to its present form of 8 inches? The brooch is made up of eight hundred round diamonds & 250 carats of emeralds.)

Jewelry history is a fascinating study through which we can see the financial status and aspirations of a nation, and its wealthy elite. The migration of great gems from European royal treasuries in the 19th century. Into the hands of the new wealth of America tells us a lot. Families like the Vanderbilts, the Walsh-McLeans, the Dukes, and the Huttons acquired some of the most famous gems in History.

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Collection is an outstanding example illustrating this time in history- an American entrepreneurial fortune, Russia’s misfortune, and their desperate need for cash. Mrs. Post-Davies personal fortune, and her yacht the, Sea Cloud, in Leningrad harbor shopped the country. Cash is king.

The Russia and India treasuries were transported to Europe in 1917-1950. Gems are indeed a form of flight capital. Many were then sold to Americans. Now we are coming full circle- who are the clients? Newly minted Indian Billionaires, Russian Oligarchs, Central Asian and Saudi petroleum princes. The gems are changing hands yet again. America is no longer the great buyer. This tells us even more.

It is impossible to determine the origin of a sapphire or a ruby with out a laboratory. Examination with a jewelers loupe can be helpful, but a certificate is essential to establish the true value in the marketplace today. By microscopic and other laboratory tests the source of origin is established through analysis of the trace elements within the crystal.

...and ladies of the club

Mrs. Ronald Tree or as we refer to her- Nancy Lancaster & her rubies, pearls & diamonds. Mrs. Tree, always innovative-commissioned Cartier in 1930 for this sautoir necklace could be worn as a long necklace, or transformed into a bracelet & shorter necklace. Made up of 450 carats of charged fiery rubies, 90 pearls and 21 sparkling diamonds, it must have especially have done so on Mrs. Tree at Ditchley.

more from a conversation with Debra:

I once read several books on Vedic Astrology, I was interested in use of precious gems to augment unfavorable aspects of ones chart. Books with titles like,“ Gems and Astrology a guide to health and prosperity” - I was prescribed a yellow sapphire by a Brahman astrologer. I could not wear it. Apart from that, I love all exquisite gems. I remember the first time I saw a sizable Kashmir Sapphire, I felt as if I had a weight on my chest, as if I could not breathe, it literally took my breath away.

A unique cushion-shaped Kashmir sapphire weighing 42.88 carats

Similarly the first time I saw a true Burma ruby, it has a quality of light like no other . If you put a UV light over it, it fluoresces (Lights up) like the tail light of a Ferrari.

There are very few Burma rubies over 5 carats this 19.41 carat stone is exceptionally rare. It is set in a ring, surrounded with diamonds.

Image Christie’s

Having spent some of my formative years in Iran, as the daughter of a diplomat, I love Persian turquoise.

Here-Persian turquoise, engraved and inlaid with pure gold inscriptions of sacred text from Iran. These stones are still on the lapidary sticks on which they were cut and engraved.( 19th century)

My tastes are diverse, and every jewel has a story-

Our Darling Duchess WWW & her Indian style bib necklace of turquoise, 294 carats of royal amethysts & diamonds. Cartier's 1947 exotic concoction of color and mix of precious and semiprecious stones was daring & made way for the hippie chic gypset style icons of the 1960's and today. Would the Duchess be amused?
( oh & yes the necklace had a matching set of ear clips.)

Daisy Fellowes posed by Cecil Beaton in 1937-wearing the HINDU necklace created for her in 1936. Here it seems all the elements merged into a rarefied riot of stones, shapes and colors that became known as a Cartier signature look known as Tutti Fruitti. The necklace is featured in T&C as modified by Fellowes' daughter in 1963. Here again are all the emeralds, rubies and nearly 250 carats of sapphires- a stunning pile of rocks!

Town & Country features 9 of "the Lucky Ladies of Cartier" in the November issue. Bruce Weber has a new book chronicling the spectacular jewelry of Cartier and the women that loved wearing them, CARTIER: I LOVE YOU.
Of course Debra did a Fabulous post of the Bruce Weber book earlier in the year- Cartier 100 Years in America here.



  1. Wow! I am speechless. Your blog was one of the first I read regularly. I continue to be amazed, enlightened, amused, and I look forward to it very much. This endorsement means a lot to me. Now, About the door knocker, I‘ll take two please.
    Many thanks for mentioning the blogs

  2. What a breathtaking post!!!


  3. Debra is a wonderful wealth of knowledge!

  4. I haven't had my second cup of coffee. I thought I was still dreaming when that door knocker of emeralds opened up my on IMAC. Warning: a 24" IMAC and your picture of these emeralds will make you sit up and take notice. I inherited my mother-in-law's emerald. She had wanted one for her engagement ring, but war times and slim budgets did not allow. One Christmas my father-in-law, coyly said to his bride of 34 years: Look, there's still something in your stocking. He brought her the box and on bended knee asked if she would marry him...again. Such a magical moment. It was her last Christmas. I always wear it at Christmas time. Jewels do have stories, regardless of their size.

  5. Love the last necklace. I am so glad I have found I can live with just a diamond or two (a fact I continually use to justify my other obsessions to my husband....i.e. it could be worse...). I view it the same way I view a painkiller (or other illegal drug) addiction...expensive. Ouch. But pretty. Trish

  6. Little-



    Thank you...I want the emeralds...

    cheers, www.thestylesaloniste.com

  7. All that glitters is Hillwood.

  8. I was amazed at all the treasures of Hillwood. MMP was a force-I read the bio about her that was quite wonderful! I was so intrigued that her father accepted his daughter at such an early age in such a male heir society to carry on the business.Quite inspiring. This lady knew what she wanted. Emeralds being one-and Modest? well She did shorten the brooch, I wonder what its original length might have been? thanks for ALL the comments.
    Debra is the best Paris Original I know. GT

  9. Good lord, how did that emerald brooch stay on the strap of her dress without pulling it down. Beautiful, dumbfoundly beautiful, but looks heavy...

    PS Home, bittersweet info about your MIL. Makes me happy and sad...

  10. Home thank you for the emerald- the idea that jewels have stories is so true. Debra referred to it as the vibrational value of the jewelry. Her passion for jewelry and this aspect of it has me rethinking my ideas about jewelry. Again thanks to Debra. I would love to continue this discussion. G

  11. Rubies have always been my absolute favorite...but the turquoise with the gold!!! Something about that combo just sings. These all look unbelievably delicious, like candy. Something about jewels is truly breathtaking, in a way that appeals to the 5 year old in me.

  12. the turquoise that Debra photographed is fascinating. They are edible-I loved the idea that such rocks could be termed tutti fruitti- too much.G

  13. Gaye-

    I was reading through some recent posts to see what I'd missed and came across this gem (pun intended) from quite a while ago.

    How did I miss THIS ??!
    (I actually checked my calendar and realized I'd been traveling that week.)

    Now that I've composed myself .. .

    another big bravo and thanks to you for your remarkable research, especially about a subject which is as close to my heart as MMP and, in particular, her emeralds.

    I always loved her emerald cab necklace . Not nearly as ornate as this piece , just a series of graduated oval cabochons . (I'll try to find a photo of it for you)

    HusbandNumberTwo told me a story of being seated next to MMP at
    the rehearsal dinner for his brother & MMP's granddaughter.
    It was a glittering event at Hillwood - as formal as it gets in just about anyone's book. A footman behind every chair!

    HN2 specialized in boyish charm and
    the ladies always melted.

    He started the conversation by admiring the sparkling emerald necklace.
    She replied with a polite Thank You.

    He then leaned in with the perfect zing: " Are those REAL? "

    She couldn't stop laughing.
    Who would dare have the audacity to ask MMP if they're REAL??!

    It broke the ice and cemented their lifelong friendship.


  14. Judith, I am so glad you stumbled upon this. I would love to see a picture and as mentioned before posts about Post are of interest to me so do tell. Boyish charm does have a way of melting the ice-emeralds in this case for women young and old(er) I think MMP would have been real-as I mentioned the bio about her makes it seem so-a great read, if you can't get the first hand info! thanks for the comment. gaye

  15. What amazing, jaw dropping jewellery! Just wonderful. Thank you for another marvellous post. The emeralds and amethysts are my favourite xx

  16. Gorgeous jewellery.

    Cartier used to create great designs in the past, particularly under the cunning eye of that pantheress, Jeanne Toussaint - alas, the taste or artistic direction which was responsible for creating fabulous jewellery in past decades is sadly lacking nowadays.

  17. Anon. there are those who would say the design of wonderful jewelry is being created by independent jewelers today & shouldn't someone should do a book about Jeanne Toussaint? pgt

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