Brilliance at the Denver Art Museum

Relationships are known to have their misunderstandings and puzzling communications, making it incredibly difficult to discover what women want. With Valentine’s Day on the horizon significant others are wondering whether their girlfriends want chocolate or jewelry for the holiday of love seems never-ending, after all, you can’t give her Channing Tatum, Chris Hemsworth, or Benedict Cumberbatch (especially since they’re taken). So, what does she really want? Christiana Augilera had suggestions a few years ago, but perhaps people ought to have listened to Marilyn Monroe: “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” To skip out on the Denver Art Museum’s exhibit Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century seems ridiculous for someone like me who studies, re-creates, and seeks fashion and jewelry inspiration. My friend Caitlin joins me along for this exploration of elegance, sophistication, and sparkling, twinkling diamonds.

Bird Brooch (L)At the start of our journey, I begin to think that we’ll mostly see jeweled necklaces, rings, and bracelets—not that I’m complaining, it’s just that I don’t anticipate the maze of accessories. Variety is in abundance as Caitlin and I venture through the pieces in the collection from 1900 to 1975. From small rectangular vanity cases holding powder with a lipstick tube attached to elaborate clocks to narrow cigarette holders, Cartier, founded in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier, knew the importance of versatility and variety in products. Within the first few steps of tiaras, watches, and necklaces of diamonds, pearls, and other precious gems, it’s clear to me that this is more than elegant jewelry; it is a passion and a work of art.

Maharaja BibLuckily for me, Louis-Francois’ son Alfred and grandsons Louis, Pierre, and Jacques took Cartier beyond Paris to delight my own passion for cultural and ethnic art. This came about through travels to Russia, which in turn peaks the interest of aristocracy in Russia, Great Britain, and India. Wandering through the exhibit I am eager to see the influences of various countries on the designs of this Cartier collection. I travel from India when I see the display of a large necklace worn by Sir Yadavindra Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala in 1941. I make a brief stop in China with a display of a decorative cherry tree full of blossoms. Everything is influence and inspiration and is handed down through generations. Although not on display, it is evident heritage is important for Cartier when I learn Catherine Middleton, the future Duchess of Cambridge, wore a tiara for her wedding to Prince William, a tiara that was created in 1936 for Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in 1955. I am happy to know there is culture and history behind these elaborate jewelry pieces.

WorkspaceBeyond tradition and culture, there is also a sense of pride and respect for craftsmanship. Seeing a work bench display with each job description illustrates the intricate details for crafting these beautiful necklaces, bracelets, and tiaras. From those who cast and polish the silver to those who polish and set the gemstones, each element is handled with care and precision. Looking at the simple, yet sophisticated necklaces worn by Princess Grace of Monaco and the elaborate and colorful purple and blue necklace worn by the Duchess of Windsor, I can only think of each stone carefully polished and set into its carefully polished silver frame. Each time I’ve been asked if I prefer diamonds or pearls, I normally favor pearls, but the craftsmanship behind these quality pieces has leaned my favoritism more towards diamonds. Perhaps there is some truth to Marilyn Monroe’s playful, flirtatious song. If you don’t believe me, visit this latest exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, available until March 15, or just listen to Nicole Kidman’s advice in Moulin Rouge.

More from Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century at the Denver Art Museum:

This post is a part of Ruby Tuesday Too.

Ruby Tuesday Too


  1. Caitlin

    The exhibit was beautiful!!! Definitely recommend it. Thanks for writing about it Brooke. I forgot half of these things!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I’m glad you enjoyed my post! I started a blog, in part, to help refresh and reboot my memory. I find when I write about an experience in detail I remember it much more clearly.

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