Cartier Mansion: My Views Inside and Why a Second Visit is Needed

If you have seen Hitchcock’s, To Catch a Thief, starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant then you are familiar with the fireworks scene. Grace Kelley’s character is trying to seduce Grant’s character a retired jewel thief into taking up his life of former crime by tempting him with her diamond necklace.

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They are both alone watching the fireworks when she turns off the light and starts going into great detail about the excitement he has given up, at least to her. Grant’s character is not buying her act.

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She sits on a desk slightly leaning back so that all you can see is her necklace shimmering as she continues to tempt Grant. She goes up to him this time describing the necklace in vivid details you can almost feel as though you can touch it.

kelly-grant-to-catch-a-thief-3Kelly moves to the couch and Grant follows. Now insistent on catching her thief, him she puts the necklace in his hand.

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Hitchcock is known for his surprises and dialogue with double meanings. Grant’s character feels the necklace then states: ‘You know as well as I do, this necklace is imitation.’ Not missing her moment Kelly responds: ‘Well I’m not’. Hitchcock then cuts in and out from the two kissing to fireworks for the audience to draw its own conclusions.

Why start off the introduction to the Cartier Mansion with Grace Kelly? For those not following the mansion’s renovations, there is a room dedicated to Grace Kelly that will display the engagement jewelry. I choose the scene from To Catch a Thief and not High Society for two reasons. One this is one of my favorite movies with Grace Kelly (the direction Hitchcock gave really brought out Grace Kelly’s talent) and the second this is the time she meets Prince Rainer of Monaco. He was in Cannes as she was finishing up to Catch a Thief.  So on to the mansion experience…

The Cartier Mansion had been under renovation for over 2 years and was to be completed in the summer but was pushed to September. The grand opening brought in a lot of celebrities and press. Googling Cartier mansion in the news will bring in lots of blogs and news articles. I know I went through several articles trying to get glimpses into the mansion and jewels.I also asked about it when the CEO of the American branch of Cartier came to speak at a Harvard Conference I attended and I wrote a post on. There are 4 floors of the mansion and I had a time limit in New York, I took a bus from Boston and made it a day trip. So this post will only cover the first 2 floors because there was a lot to see and I want to follow up later on how this helps Cartier for their holiday season. Before we go into the mansion you had to see the outside of it.

I came up to groups gathered at the windows trying to see all the jewels and watch the display playing continuously. One group I came upon had several young girls hanging out.

girls-looking-at-cartier-windowThe outside felt almost like a toy shop. There were amazing rings, necklaces, bracelets, etc. (see below)cartier-window-display-necklaces

Some were on a standard display but in each window surrounding the store was a small replica mansion complete with windows that opened to reveal a red box that opened with a jeweled surprise. The box closed went back into the window and another box would come out of another window with a different jewel. It felt like a cuckoo clock only without the chimes. (see below)

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The different surprises…

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So I spent some time just admiring the outside display. I then proceeded inside with a red t-shirt, jeans and sneakers not exactly dressed for a visit to a mansion but the doors opened and I was greeted politely and warmly. A staff member handed me a card mapping out the floors and what each place had. I think it is useful to share:

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I looked around for a few minutes on the first floor taking a few photos but quickly went up to see the two rooms I was most interested in, the Princess Grace room and the Elizabeth Taylor room. The Princess Grace room was light and airy, filled with cases of diamonds and in the cases around the room more diamonds and pearl jewelry. The walls had a few photos of Grace Kelly and the smaller rooms to the side had stills of her movie High Society where she wore her over 10 carat diamond Cartier engagement ring.

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In a case across the room a small display of jewelry owned by Grace Kelly can be viewed until early October. I took my time to take in the thrill of seeing these items. It was very generous of Monaco to loan these items to Cartier to share with the public.

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Below each piece was a description. I got the description for the ring and necklace but the photo for the watch description did not come out as well so I only had a title and time.

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I found it interesting that the dates on all the items except the ring date to before she married the prince. The necklace dates to 1953 so she picked and paid for it herself. She was a client of Cartier before being married.

So I then crossed the hall with another display of diamonds that had a small side room for stationary, and reached the Elizabeth Taylor room. The room was filled with candid stills from her home movie of receiving the set of Cartier rubies from Mike Todd, the ones Elizabeth famously wore in the pool. There was also a drawing on the right when you entered of the ruby necklace on Taylor. The side room I looked in had drawings of Cartier designed jewelry like the necklace she commissioned Cartier to design around the famous Peregrina Pearl.

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The jewelry in the cases had a variety of colored stones, in contrast to the primarily white diamonds in Kelly’s area. Around the room where amazing works of jewelry in stand alone glass cases. I will share one below but I could not take too many photos.

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This is the last jewelry photo I took. A staff member by the door informed me that photos of jewelry in the cases was not allowed. I didn’t argue or act unpleasant I just put my phone away and looked a bit more down stairs. Now I had been taking photos downstairs before I was told there was an issue so I’ll share them with you to finish the story. That opal piece above was just the tip of the iceberg. When you walked down to the first floor the room to your left held the high jewellery. There were snakes, panthers, birds made with stones in all kinds of colors.

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The Cartier Mansion still felt like someone could live in it. It didn’t feel exclusive. I felt I could have bought something with ease, there was no intimidation for me in the store. A little sad I couldn’t afford any jewelry but that is how it is for now. One other nice thing I noticed on the first floor in the room closest to the main entrance some of the more affordable jewels had the prices listed next to the item. I have been a big fan of transparency with jewelry stores. I hate having to waste a clerk’s time asking for prices as I try and decide on an item. In keeping time with my schedule to catch a bus to return to my apartment I moved on but am resolved to return for more. I still have floors 3 and 4 to visit. Because as Kelly’s character put it to Grant she is no imitation and neither is this amazing experience. The Cartier Mansion is no longer just a store but a destination that can easily be for some a home away from home! Return soon for more from Data in the Rough! And please let me know in the comments if you have seen the new Cartier Mansion or have a favorite Grace Kelly movie!

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