An ex­quis­ite jew­ellery col­lec­tion

Solitaire (Singapore) - - Content - BY SHIRLEY MOSKOW

So­cialite. Busi­ness­woman. Phi­lan­thropist. Marjorie Merriweather Post — heiress and owner of the Gen­eral Foods Cor­po­ra­tion — lived life on a grand scale. Post be­came the rich­est woman in the United States at age 27, when she in­her­ited her fa­ther’s com­pany. Through­out her life, she was a great col­lec­tor of art, an­tiques, fur­ni­ture, and jew­ellery.

Her fab­u­lous jew­ellery col­lec­tion was leg­endary. It had been called ‘one of the most re­mark­able col­lec­tions of jew­ellery ever amassed by one of the great­est jew­ellery col­lec­tors of the 20th cen­tury’. A spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tion, Spec­tac­u­lar: Gems and Jew­elry from the Merriweather Post Col­lec­tion”, is on view through the end of the year at Hill­wood, her es­tate, now a pri­vate mu­seum, in NW Washington. A dra­matic di­a­mond and ruby brooch fash­ioned into a mar­guerite by Van Cleef & Ar­pels is a bold punc­tu­a­tion mark on the ex­hi­bi­tion’s pub­lic­ity an­nounce­ment.

Post was es­pe­cially fond of ob­jects with a his­tor­i­cal pedi­gree. With her third hus­band, Joseph E. Davies, am­bas­sador to Rus­sia, she pur­chased Carl Faberge eggs and dec­o­ra­tive ob­jects. She ac­quired the largest col­lec­tion out­side of Rus­sia, which she do­nated to mu­se­ums, in­clud­ing many to the Vir­ginia Mu­seum of Fine Art, Rich­mond. Not sat­is­fied merely to col­lect, Post be­came a con­nois­seur. The ex­hi­bi­tion tells the sto­ries be­hind her re­mark­able gem­stones and the jewellers’ crafts­man­ship.

Marjorie Merriweather Post — so­cialite, busi­ness­woman, phi­lan­thropist — lived life on a grand scale

Post com­mis­sioned pieces from the most im­por­tant jewellers in the world, in­clud­ing Cartier, Van Cleef & Ar­pels, Harry Win­ston, and Ver­dura

She liked the colour green and emer­alds, which flat­tered her com­plex­ion. She wore emer­alds to the 1953 corona­tion of Queen El­iz­a­beth II at Buck­ing­ham Palace. In her car, after­wards, she no­ticed that the 21ct emer­ald that had been owned by Em­peror Fer­di­nand Joseph Max­imil­lian of Mexico had fallen from its set­ting. For­tu­nately, it was re­cov­ered, and visitors can view it in the Hill­wood ex­hi­bi­tion.

Post com­mis­sioned pieces from the most im­por­tant jewellers in the world, in­clud­ing Cartier, Van Cleef & Ar­pels, Harry Win­ston, and Ver­dura. An emer­ald and di­a­mond pen­dant brooch made in the 1920s by the Lon­don branch of Cartier is par­tic­u­larly note­wor­thy. It fea­tures more than 250 carats of carved In­dian emer­alds from the Mughal pe­riod, in­clud­ing a large emer­ald carved with a 17th cen­tury mo­tif of a flower bear­ing Per­sian in­scrip­tions on one side.

She pur­chased the renowned Napoleon di­a­mond neck­lace from Harry Win­ston who had ac­quired it at a New York auc­tion. Napoleon I had com­mis­sioned the French firm Ni­tot & Fils to cre­ate some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary for his se­cond wife, the Arch­duchess Marie Louise of Aus­tria, when she pre­sented him with a son. The op­u­lent di­a­mond neck­lace was a favourite of the arch­duchess, who of­ten wore it for her por­traits. It is on dis­play at the Smith­so­nian Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory.

The Post col­lec­tion fea­tures sev­eral pieces by Cartier, with whom she some­times col­lab­o­rated on the de­sign. Th­ese in­clude a di­a­mond and emer­ald brooch, two turquoise and amethyst neck­laces, and a sap­phire and di­a­mond bib neck­lace.

Post was an el­e­gant woman who wore her jew­ellery with style. But she was more than just a ‘fash­ion­ista’. Her fa­ther, C.W. Post, had groomed his only child to han­dle his for­tune re­spon­si­bly. From the time she was a lit­tle girl, he took her to his of­fice at the Pos­tum Com­pany. As his com­pany grew into the gi­ant C.W. Post Ce­real Com­pany, his fa­ther taught her about the busi­ness. And he taught her well.

“Spec­tac­u­lar”, the ex­hi­bi­tion at Hill­wood Es­tate, Mu­seum, and Gar­dens, is a trib­ute to Marjorie Merriweather Post, the woman who cham­pi­oned beauty, power, and phi­lan­thropy. “She saw jew­ellery not only as ob­jects, but also as works of art wor­thy of dis­play,” wrote the late Liana Pare­des, in the lav­ishly il­lus­trated mu­seum pub­li­ca­tion.

Through­out her life, Post was a great col­lec­tor of art, an­tiques, fur­ni­ture, and jew­ellery

THIS PAGE Di­a­mond neck­lace in plat­inum (1965-1966), HARRY WIN­STON Pho­tographed by Square Moose Inc. OP­PO­SITE PAGE CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT Zir­con and di­a­mond bracelet (1939), JOEL HELFT Pho­tographed by Bruce WhiteMarjorie Merriweather Post with French Am­bas­sador Herve Al­p­hand, when he pre­sented Ms Post with the Le­gion of Honor Medal in 1957Turquoise and amethyst neck­lace (1950), CARTIER Pho­tographed by Square Moose Inc.

THIS PAGE Turquoise and di­a­mond neck­lace (1961), HARRY WIN­STON Pho­tographed by Square Moose Inc.OP­PO­SITE PAGE FROM TOP Emer­ald and di­a­mond brooch (1928), CARTIER Pho­tographed by Square Moose Inc.Mar­guerite ruby and di­a­mond brooch (1969), VAN CLEEF & AR­PELS Pho­tographed by Square Moose Inc.All im­ages cour­tesy of Hill­wood Es­tate, Mu­seum & Gar­dens

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