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Cartier: Passing on Heritage and Savoir-Faire

Partnership with the Hermitage began for Cartier almost 30 years ago, in 1992, when the museum staged the exhibition “The Art of Cartier”. A new stage of collaboration commenced five years ago, when the jewellery house supported the Hermitage’s restoration programme. Since 2016, with the support of Maison Cartier, staff of the Laboratory for the Scientific Restoration of Precious and Archaeological Metals in the State Hermitage’s Department of Scientific Restoration and Conservation have carried out the restoration of five unique works from the museum’s collection of decorative and applied art.

The exhibition in the Picket Hall is constructed around these five restored masterpieces which are being displayed together with 35 items from the historical Cartier Collection, owned by the firm itself – pieces of jewellery and timepieces that have been selected on the basis of a shared material, style or technique.

  Staff of the Laboratory for the Scientific restoration of Precious and Archaeological Metals (headed by Igor Karlovich Malkiel) restored what may well be the world’s only surviving example of a rock crystal lamp created by Arab craftsmen in the 10th century and later embellished by skilled Italian jewellers at the time of the Renaissance. In the exhibition. the lamp is complemented by the works of French jewellers who turned their hands to this amazing material ten centuries later. In the pieces from the Cartier Collection, one can see how the 20th-century craftspeople combined rock crystal with precious stones and preferred platinum over yellow gold.

A gold scent vase from the treasury of the Great Moghuls inlaid with diamonds, emeralds and rubies has also been restored. The vessel was brought to Saint Petersburg in 1741, among the gifts that Nadir Shah, the ruler of Iran, sent to the court of Empress Anna Ioannovna. In the display, it is presented in the company of pieces of Cartier jewellery with Eastern motifs, including an Indian-style necklace made up of 18 little ruby and diamond plaques strung onto five strands of 360 pearls. The kundan technique employed in the making of the necklace is the same method of setting stones as was used in the decoration of the Hermitage scent vase.