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Cartier The Exhibition at NGA Canberra

Cartier The Exhibition at NGA Canberra

With the launch of Cartier: The Exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra there has never been a better reason to pack the weekender and head to the nations capital. 

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge crown from her wedding to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge crown from her wedding to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

The exhibition offers a glimpse into the intimate world of Cartier and it's famous clients that include royalty and aristocrats, socialites, business leaders and stars of the stage and screen.

Cartier: The Exhibition features more than 300 pieces from the French luxury jewellers, from necklaces, brooches and tiaras, to watches, ornaments, drawings and photographs. Many of the pieces come from The Cartier Collection, based in Geneva, while others have left their country of origin for the first time. 

Some of the more notable pieces included the 'Halo' tiara given to her majesty on her 18th birthday and worn by Kate Middleton on her wedding day. Buckingham Palace have also loaned a number of other pieces including a brooch in the shape of a jonquil featuring one of the world's largest pink diamonds from Tanzania and presented to the then Princess Elizabeth as a gift for her wedding in 1947.  

As we walk through the exhibition some of our favoured pieces include Grace Kelly's 10-carat engagement ringjewels worn by Elizabeth Taylor and noted Cartier customer Dame Nellie Melba. 

It’s a dazzling and exquisite array of jewellery produced between 1900 and 1975 that reflect change in design as well as the social, political and economic global trends. The exhibition is a homage to one of the worlds most prestigious and luxury jewellery brands, steeped in history. This is certainly not to be missed. 

The exhibition runs from March 30th to July 22nd. 


Q&A from Australian jeweller Bronwyn Carabez


Cartier is one of the worlds most sort after luxury jewellery brands, why do you think this is?

Cartier is steeped in history and is considered to be the finest of jewellery by many. It established a reputation in the first half of the 20th century for having exquisite design and craftsmanship and one of the reasons the brand became rightly famous for.

Even if you have limited jewellery knowledge, a Cartier jewel stands out and you don't have to look for the signature to confirm its origin.

The artisans that have created these masterpieces are unparalleled in their skill, they design sheer opulence and glamour.

What is your favourite era of Cartier and why?

I personally love the Belle Epoque era. Cartier understood the need for form, shape and design of the Belle Epoque Jewels.

It was within this era they started to use platinum in their jewellery and this allowed them to create the most delicate pieces because the metal was so structurally sound.

Many of Cartier's creation have multiple ways to wear them, tiaras to bracelets, brooches to pendents. Why do you think we see less of this today?

I think with our lifestyles there is no real occasion to use these designs. We don’t have the famous dinner parties of that by-gone era where everyone had their crowns on for dinner, or had garlands on their garments. 

With modern design there is room for a much diluted version of this where we can add a piece to an earring or join a few bracelets together to create a more glamorous look.

Like Cartier you create one off pieces for your clients, what's one of the most impressive pieces a client has commissioned ?

There is a piece of jewellery I co-designed with Collette Dinnigan for Fashion Week in 2000. It was constructed as a garland of pearls across the front of the dress that then created a strap on a silk dress held together with a mixture of Art Deco Bouches and Elizabethan earrings. It had a 1 carat diamond tassels draped off the shoulder strap. The complete design was worth over 1 million dollars. I spent over 100 hours with the pearl farmer choosing each pearl by hand. It was an amazing exercise to go through and the piece was later sold in Hong Kong.

If you could choose one piece from the Cartier exhibition to wear for the day what would it be?

The brooch that was given to Queen Elizabeth from her father. It is a flower with a pink diamond centre. It was given with great love 



Travel to Canberra


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East Hotel

East Hotel is a contemporary, cool and vibrant apartment hotel situated between the vibrant shopping and restaurant hubs of Kingston and Manuka in Canberra’s prestigious 'Inner South'.

East Hotel offer packages starting from $270 that Include:

  • overnight accommodation with a complimentary upgrade,
  • two tickets to the exhibition,
  • free parking; and
  • a bottle of local red wine.


69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston ACT 2604

+61 2 6295 6925



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Looking at exquisite jewellery all day can be exhausting so you will want a good breakfast! MUSE in the hotel offers an exceptional breakfast to keep you energised all day. I highly recommend ‘The Green Bowl’ and their ‘Sriracha Eggs Benedict’ with pulled ham hock. 

End the day with a good bottle of local wine and some Italian cuisine, Agostinis is an Italian family restaurant serving fresh pasta made daily and delicious pizzas piping hot from their state-of-the-art Marana Forni pizza oven.  



Story by Joshua Heath




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