Featured prominently in this portrait of Marjorie Merriweather Post and her daughter, Nedenia, this Cartier shoulder brooch skillfully wrought in platinum makes a bold statement. Suspended from what looks like a buckle, hangs a tiered wonder in platinum, emerald, and diamonds with three tiers of carved emerald cabochons which appear to bleed out of platinum flutes iced with diamonds. The two central stones, one quite a bit larger than the other, are intricately etched with delicate flowers. The complexity of the whole is absolutely dazzling.
The emerald cabochons are native to India, and though the largest of the stones is inscribed in Farsi with a later date, the remaining six prominent gemstones are said to hail from the 17th-century Mughal Empire. Several smaller round- and caliber-cut emeralds serve as accents throughout the piece, which is completely encrusted in brilliant white diamonds.
Ms. Post purchased the jewel, which was originally made as a pendant on a string of emeralds, from Cartier London in 1928. Soon after, she commissioned Cartier New York to convert the spectacular pendant to its present state as a brooch.
Although the jewel appears to take center stage in Mr. Blaas’s portrait, it is most fitting for a woman of Ms. Post’s caliber to wear such a commanding piece. Having inherited her father’s flourishing Postum Cereal Company, which raised her net worth to nearly $250 million, she dedicated her life to supporting various civic and artistic causes.
She received distinguished recognition for her contributions to the Boy Scouts of America and to the French efforts during World War I. She also donated money to the Soviet Union during World War II, to the National Symphony Orchestra’s “Music for Young America” program, and to the Mount Vernon Seminary and Junior College. She organized soup kitchens for those New Yorkers devastated by the Great Depression, and she helped fund the construction of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Even upon her death, Ms. Post advanced both the arts and the preservation of world history by donating her estate at Hillwood, including dozens of Faberge eggs, a portion of the Russian Crown Jewels, and many exquisite jewelry pieces made by the top designers of her time, including this Cartier brooch which can be viewed by the public at the Museum in Washington, D.C.
For information on museum hours and admission, please visit Hillwod’s website: http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org/about-hillwood.