Cold Snow and Hot Jewels: Cartier Comes to Denver

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Now that the holidays have ended, it may seem like there is nothing fun to do until spring. With record low temperatures and frigid winds, even traditional winter pursuits like skiing and sledding may seem unappealing. Fortunately, while the weather outside is frightful, many cultural institutions are offering delightful indoor activities.

If you stop in at the Denver Art Museum, you can view their exclusive Cartier exhibit. Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century will not be shown at any other venues worldwide, so if you like jewelry, history, or both, you will want to make sure to check it out. The exhibit features more than 1,500 items created by the design house, or Maison, between 1900 and 1975.

Cartier has long been at the forefront of fashion and jewelry trends, and is credited with the creation of the first practical wristwatch in 1904. They were also the first Maison to use platinum as a setting for diamonds, to emphasize the stones’ sparkle. Many jewelers now use this technique in engagement rings, but before Cartier’s innovation, the practice was to use silver-coated gold. The use of platinum to set stones allows jewelers to use the 1,090 metric tons of silver produced in the United States in 2013 alone for other pieces.

From wristwatches, Cartier expanded to extravagant jewelry, including tiaras for their royal clients, and jeweled plants and animals, such as the iconic panther that would become a symbol for the brand.

The evolution of the Cartier brand can be traced through their well-heeled clientele. Maharaja of Patiala Bhupinder Singh received a diamond necklace from Cartier, and the jeweler received royal warrants from King Edward VIII of England, followed by others from 12 other royal houses. The royal warrants allowed Cartier to advertise that they supplied their wares to the royal families.

While not everyone is born into royalty, we common folk can still catch a glimpse of the splendor of Cartier pieces by visiting the Denver Art Museum’s exhibit. The dazzling exhibition will be at the museum through March 15th, so if you don’t want to brave the snow, there is plenty of time. Tickets can be purchased through the Denver Art Museum’s website.

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