Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Grace Kelly’s Engagement Ring at the Cartier Mansion

The newly renovated Cartier Mansion at 52nd Street and Fifth Avenue, NYC.

The Cartier Mansion at 52nd Street and Fifth Avenue is open again after a two-and-a-half year renovation and when I heard they would exhibit Grace Kelly’s engagement ring for nearly a month after the reopening, I had to go see it! Cartier celebrates their unique relationship with both Grace and the principality of Monaco in their new Princess Grace Salon on the second floor of the mansion. The salon is pale yellow and cream with touches of gold and the rounded ceiling features a repeating pattern of the coat of arms of Monaco—two monks holding swords with a checkerboard crest between them, as well as the words “Deo Juvante,” Latin for, “With God’s help.” The salon is devoted to bridal jewelry, but also to Grace, and features portraits of her both before and after she became a princess, as well as some of her famous Cartier jewelry.

The Monaco Coat of Arms outside the Cartier Mansion.

This window treatment is a good example of the color scheme in the salon!

One of the photos of Grace inside the small rooms surrounding the salon.

L to R: Grace’s engagement ring, Grace herself admiring jewelry at Cartier, Grace’s Cartier diamond necklace.

Love this illustration of Grace, based on a photograph of her.

More of Grace’s Cartier jewelry: a diamond bracelet and three cabochon ruby and diamond dress clips.

On view in the salon was the mini-exhibit Grace Kelly, Princess Grace of Monaco which featured four items on loan from the princely palace—Grace’s 10.48-carat engagement ring, a diamond necklace, a diamond bracelet, and a prism clock.

The diamond engagement ring was actually the second ring Rainier gave to Grace after she accepted his proposal at Christmas in 1955, the first ring he gave her was a ruby and diamond eternity band—rubies and diamonds to signify red and white, the official colors of Monaco. Grace’s diamond engagement ring was famously featured in the 1956 film High Society, the last movie she made, where she used it as a stand-in for the ring her character, Tracy Lord, wore. It features two baguette diamonds on either side of the main stone. It is very beautiful and I could not get over the fire of it! I watched High Society so much as a teen that it was a total thrill to see this ring up close and in person.

Grace’s 10.48-carat engagement ring by Cartier.

Grace’s Cartier diamond necklace was a wedding present.

The 1953 diamond necklace that was on display, featuring 64 carats total of brilliant and baguette-cut diamonds, is one I do believe was given to her as a wedding present. Judith Balaban Quine, one of Grace’s bridesmaids, writes her in book The Bridesmaids: Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, and Six Intimate Friends that one of the many events Grace and Rainier attended before their wedding included “a presentation of gifts from the elected assembly and the Monégasgue citizenry. Grace opened a large padded jeweler’s case that held a set of magnificent diamond jewelry.”

I think this necklace and the bracelet seen below could be what Quine was referring to. If you know for certain, tell me in the comments. The gallery text did not specify a carat weight for the bracelet, just that it was made in 1955, has brilliant and baguette-cut diamonds, and opens on hinge.

A stunning diamond bracelet that was also owned by Grace.

The beautiful little prism clock.

I absolutely loved this small prism clock from 1955 of gold, platinum, and brilliant-cut diamonds. It may have been bespoke since there is a crown at the top, and I am guessing that this gorgeous little clock came from Rainier himself! I love the engraving in the front: “Je Ne Marque Que Des Heures Heureuses,” which I understands translates to “I mark only happy hours.” I loved how the face of the clock disappears if you look at it in just the right way.

The face of the clock disappears!

Prince Albert II cuts the ribbon, opening the salon. Photo courtesy of Palais Princier.

Prince Albert II, Grace and Rainier’s son, came to officially open the salon on September 23, 2016. Unfortunately his wife Princess Charlene did not attend, but Albert brought his niece, Pauline, who is the daughter of Princess Stephanie. I think she is such a beautiful girl!

Prince Albert and his niece Pauline. Photo courtesy of the Palais Princier.

The plaque commemorating that Prince Albert II inaugurated the Princess Grace Salon.

The staff at Cartier could not have been nicer to me, from the doormen, to the lady who showed me around the Princess Grace Salon, and everyone else I spoke with that day. If you get a chance to visit the mansion, I highly recommend it. It has been beautifully renovated, actually feels like it was the mansion it once was, and the selling space has been significantly expanded since Cartier bought and renovated the townhouse next door on 52nd Street!

Let me know if you got to see Grace’s jewelry, whether at the Cartier Mansion or at a previous exhibit. If you have been to the mansion, tell me what you think of it!

[Do note that I do not claim to be an expert on Grace’s jewels, nor am I fluent in French. Any facts listed here regarding the year, carat weight and diamond cuts of the jewelry came directly from the gallery text at the Cartier Mansion. As for my speculation on the provenance of Grace’s necklace and bracelet, I used two sources: The Bridesmaids: Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, and Six Intimate Friends by Judith Balaban Quine and Amazing Cartier: Jewelry Design Since 1937 by Nadine Coleno.]

6 comments:

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

What a gorgeous ring and a lovely collection.
Thank you for sharing...

Linda said...

Great post, Jill. I bet it was so exciting to view all these gorgeous pieces up close...thanks for sharing the pics.

Data in the Rough said...

I love how you caught all those details! I loved visiting the mansion and seeing Princess Grace's jewelry. I needed more time there! Will visit again. The engagement jewelry did not interest me as much as the items on the first floor! Wow! Even the outside jewelry display was fabulous! I love your Instagram picks! When I visited I took a photo of that gorgeous turquoise ring too! What did you think of the Elizabeth Taylor room? Great post was excited to hear what your thoughts were on the mansion!

Jill said...

Hello Hostess, thank you for stopping by. I think you would've liked this exhibit! xx

Jill said...

Hi Mom, I wish you had been with me. We can go to the Cartier Mansion next time you visit, it is such a beautiful space. xx

Jill said...

Hi Michelle! Oh we were opposites then--I made a beeline for the Grace exhibit and didn't bother to look at the first floor at all, ha ha! I totally agree with you, the space is so big now, I needed more time there! I can't wait for another in-depth visit. I really liked the Liz Taylor room and am hoping (praying!) that they will do an exhibit of her jewels at some point. I bet they bought a few back at the 2011 auction, right?