Here is the second part of my Marjorie Merriweather Post series. This post will have more photos of her exceptional jewelry. I got a little carried away with her story in the first post. Also, these two posts show only a fraction of her jewelry collection. In 1982, Christie’s auctioned 38 pieces of Post’s fabled jewels, the proceeds of which served to continue the educational and cultural programs at Hillwood. The jewels in the sale included a diamond tiara made by Cartier, a 37.0-carat yellow diamond ring, an Art Deco diamond and ruby bracelet, and an antique ruby and diamond bird brooch made in France in the 19th century.
The jewelry was not the only reason to see the exhibit. The Cartier photo frames and objets d’art were incredible and there were lots of them. There were also detailed receipts from Cartier on display. She was a shopper! She gave lots Cartier baubles as gifts.
The portrait and sapphire and diamond necklace below were on display at the Hillwood Cartier exhibit.
The necklace was originally two bracelets. The central element was designed by Cartier to transform the bracelets into one spectacular piece.
Does this color combination look familiar? It was very popular for awhile. Remember the Duchess of Windsor’s amethyst and turquoise bib necklace? Both necklaces were custom Cartier work, made about a year apart.
Marjorie M. Post and the Duchess knew each other. The Duchess stated that she liked and admired Post. In 1948, the Duke and Duchess were invited to cruise on the Sea Cloud with Ambassador and Mrs. Davies.
This incredible three strand Caro Yamaoka pearl and diamond necklace, circa 1963 (also on display) is meant to be worn with the dazzling diamonds cascading down the nape of the wearer’s neck while the pearls hang down in front. Both the details and the diamonds of the Cartier clasp are exquisite. There’s something so decadent about wearing a waterfall of diamonds on the back of your neck, don’t you think? There is a photo at Hillwood of Ms. Post wearing the necklace while checking the dinner table at Hillwood. It was taken from behind and you can see the dangling diamonds in full effect.
This is an exceptional necklace that Post acquired from Harry Winston in 1960, owned for just two years and then donated to the Smithsonian in 1962. It was not in the exhibit as it is not Cartier. Emperor Napoleon gave The Napoleon Diamond Necklace to his second wife, Marie Louise, in celebration of the birth of their son, Napoleon II, the Emperor of Rome, in 1811.
Portrait of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1952 by English artist, Frank O. Salisbury.
This art deco, Indian-style necklace is composed of 24 baroque-cut emerald drops of graduated size, joined by a smaller emerald bead. All are set in platinum with hundreds of pave-set diamonds. The necklace was designed in 1928-29, by Cartier, Inc. Marjorie Merriweather Post wore it dressed as “Juliette” for the Palm Beach Everglades Ball in 1929. This was one of her favorite pieces.
This 21.04-carat Colombian emerald was once set in a ring worn by Mexico’s ill-fated emperor, Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph. An Austrian archduke crowned emperor of Mexico in 1864, he was executed three years later. The emerald in its present platinum ring setting, designed by Cartier, Inc., is enhanced by six baguette cut diamonds. It has the rich deep grass-green color of fine emeralds from Colombia as well as fine clarity and transparency. This ring is one of several major donations she generously gifted to the National Gem Collection; others include the Blue Heart Diamond, the Napoleon Diamond Necklace, the Marie-Louise Diadem, the Art Deco Indian-style Emerald Necklace, and the Marie Antoinette Earrings. These items were donated in 1964 through her daughter Eleanor Barzin.
Napoleon gave the Diadem to his second wife, the Empress Marie-Louise, on the occasion of their marriage. Originally the diadem, commissioned in 1810, was set with emeralds, which were replaced in the mid-1950s, with turquoise. It was made by Etienne Nitot et Fils of Paris. The diadem was one piece of a parure that also included a necklace and earrings (now in the Louvre) and comb (disassembled), all in emeralds, diamonds, silver and gold. Marie-Louise bequeathed the diadem and accompanying jewelry to her Hapsburg aunt, Archduchess Elise. The jewelry was acquired by Van Cleef & Arpels from one of Archduchess Elise’s descendants, Archduke Karl Stefan Hapsburg of Sweden, in 1953, along with a document attesting to their provenance. During the period from May 1954 to June 1956, the emeralds were removed from the diadem by Van Cleef & Arpels and sold individually in pieces of jewelry. A newspaper advertisement placed by the company in 1955 promised: “An emerald for you from the historic Napoleonic Tiara…” Sometime between 1956 and 1962, Van Cleef & Arpels mounted the turquoise into the diadem. In 1962, the diadem, with turquoise, was displayed in the Louvre Museum in Paris along with the necklace, earrings, and comb, as part of a special exhibition on Empress Marie-Louise. Marjorie Merriweather Post purchased the diadem from Van Cleef & Arpels and donated it to the Smithsonian in 1971. The diadem* is an elaborate design of scrolls, palmettes and medallions and contains 79 Persian turquoise stones (totaling 540cts) and 1,006 old mine cut diamonds (totaling 700cts) set in silver and gold. Ms. Post had earrings and a necklace made to match.
Marjorie Merriweather Post’s lavish platinum brooch from the 1920s, featuring a 60-ct. carved Mughal emerald surrounded by diamonds.
The brooch, made by Oscar Heyman and retailed by Marcus & Co. in 1929, features a mid-17th century carved emerald that was purchased by Marcus & Co.’s agent in Bombay in the 1920s.
“Marjorie didn’t just purchase jewelry off the shelf. She was a connoisseur who knew gems and chose only those of the highest quality,” said Hillwood Executive Director Kate Markert. “She recognized great design and knew how to wear her jewelry to show it to its best advantage.”
Hillwood’s gift shop is currently selling paper punch-out versions of Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Cartier jewels. How much fun is that?
I hope you enjoyed the series, I sure enjoyed researching and writing it.