Director Olivier Dahan’s 2014 film Grace of Monaco, put the late Princess Grace of Monaco – and her jewelry – firmly in the spotlight. The film sparked controversy over its depiction of the late princess but the role played by her Cartier jewels received rave reviews.
One of the most stylish women of her era, actress Grace Kelly was regarded American royalty, and even more so when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
Such flawless beauty was created for magnificent jewelry and what better house to grace her than the jeweler of kings and the king of jewelers, Cartier?
Princess Grace had a loyal relationship with Cartier both in Paris and in Monaco and throughout her life received a string of elegant pieces specially commissioned for her, including a diamond and ruby tiara, a necklace made up of three strands of diamonds and many beloved brooches and bracelets.
With the consent of the Sovereign House of Monaco, the ateliers of the Maison opened their archives and worked tirelessly to reproduce five faithful reproductions of the vintage Cartier collection of Monaco, including the 10.47-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring which Princess Grace was given by Prince Rainier in 1956, eight months after they met.
A key scene in the film shows Grace – played by Nicole Kidman – dazzling in her signature Cartier pieces as she announces to the world’s press, against the backdrop of the legendary Cartier boutique at 13 Rue de la Paix in Paris, that she is giving up movies and acting and dedicating herself to being a royal wife and mother.
Most movie-goers will enjoy seeing the reproduction pieces in the movie but enthusiasts could view the real deal at the Cartier: Style and History exhibition at the opulent Grand Palais in Paris.
Among many other beautiful and famous objects, including Wallis Simpson’s jewelry, was a prestigious ensemble of around 20 pieces, some official and others more personal, from the Prince of Monaco’s collection.
While other famous diamond-studded Cartier tiaras sparkled and spun on the revolving carousel which greeted visitors at the entrance to the exhibition, a pearl and diamond tiara featuring hanging pear-shaped pearls set in platinum and white gold, which was given to Princess Charlotte of Monaco as a wedding present, was given pride of place in the Monaco exhibition area.
Grace’s various tiaras have previously been showcased on exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and at Sotheby’s in New York and her dresses went on a Grace Kelly: Style Icon tour in Australia with the Victoria & Albert Collection.
Her daughters, Princesses Caroline and Stephanie, have often borrowed both their mother’s and grandmother’s tiaras, with Caroline, in particular, often wearing them to state occasions. Her mother’s famous diamond and ruby tiara separates into three brooches and a necklace which makes them versatile.
The Grand Palais exhibition also showed a cover of French magazine, Paris Match, from 1959 of Princess Grace in her official state costume, including the diamond and ruby tiara, the three-tiered diamond necklace and a diamond and ruby bracelet.
Cartier was famous for their animal depictions and created a signature brooch for Princess Grace, a diamond brooch in the shape of a poodle, as she always loved the dogs and was frequently photographed carrying one.
Another favorite was her hen brooch in repoussé gold, platinum and diamonds with a cabochon emerald for the eye, which Cartier created for her in 1957.
In addition to the famous pieces featured at the exhibition in Paris, Cartier also played a role in the Grace of Monaco movie. In addition to their historical reproductions, Cartier loaned the production team a number of high jewelry pieces. These included a gorgeous emerald necklace worn by Spanish actress Paz Vega, who plays Maria Callas in the film, as well as Cartier watches and accessories which are worn by the male leads, Tim Roth as Prince Rainier III and Robert Lindsay in the role of Aristotle Onassis.
Both the movie and the exhibition placed Cartier in the spotlight and the Oscar could go to the legendary atelier for best jewelry, or at least best reproduction of a vintage piece.