Welcome to Part VI, Personalities. This should be the last segment of our look at the Van Cleef & Arpels Exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, but there are so many interesting stories I may have to stretch it out to one or two more. "Personalities" is the segment everyone loves the most because it looks at famous individuals who owned and wore some of the most beautiful jewelry ever made. But as Elizabeth Taylor once said, "I’m fortunate to have some very important pieces of jewelry. I don’t believe I own any of the pieces. I believe that I am their custodian, here to enjoy them, to give them the best treatment in the world, to watch after their safety, and to love them.” She also wrote, "Sometimes I wonder what will become of everything, because just like the Duchess of Windsor’s collection, they will all be up for auction one day. They will be scattered to the four corners of the world, and I hope that whoever buys each piece loves it as much as I do and takes care of it and realizes that having jewelry is a temporary gift. In truth, we ‘owners’ are just the caretakers… Nobody ever owns anything this beautiful. We are only the guardians.”
Grace Kelly, wearing the wedding ensemble of naturally found pearls fashioned by Van Cleef & Arpels into a necklace, bracelet, earrings and ring. If you remember my June pearl post, naturally found pearls, as opposed to cultured pearls, are extremely rare. Cultured pearls started to replace natural pearls in jewelry starting in the late 1800's when Mikimoto perfected the cultured pearl process. Prince Ranier III gave these pearls to Grace Kelly in 1956, the year they were married. This suite is extremely valuable due to the size of the pearls used, as well as the number of pearls needed, in order to make a triple strand necklace and double strand bracelet...all made with perfectly matching natural pearls in size, color and luster.