HOUSTON — The Texas crowd is used to mammoth-sized gems, but even they were impressed by Cartier’s breathtaking exhibit of its most significant 20th-century pieces at the Museum of Fine Arts here on Friday night.
Cartier wisely turned to social fixture Becca Cason Thrash to help with its gala opening. The jeweler rewarded her with the loan of the biggest gem at the bash — a $6 million Burmese ruby and diamond collar originally made for the Maharishi of Nawanagar.
“It’s a blast to wear this necklace,” said Thrash. “There are two very interested buyers from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and I’m going back and forth between them.”
Lynn Wyatt accented her beaded YSL gown with turquoise and diamond earrings and a matching brooch. Was it Cartier? “No, I’m wearing husband,” she quipped.
Architect and modern design guru Ettore Sottsass orchestrated every aspect of the show, which runs through March 27. He placed the jewelry on black mounts within black vitrines lit by pinpoint lighting. The only light cast on visitors emanated from tall, backlit enlargements of original drawings for the pieces.
A handful of celebrities added some star power, including Marisa Tomei, Jaclyn Smith and Lyle Lovett, who lives just outside Houston. “Becca asked me, so I had to come,” deadpanned Lovett.
“It’s exciting, very elegant stuff,” Tomei said as she entered the exhibit with Gregory Boyd, artistic director of Houston’s Alley Theatre.
“This is the most sophisticated party this town has ever seen,” mused Mickey Rosmarin, owner of Tootsies.
Surprise performer Jewel — pun clearly intended — took to the stage after dessert with an acoustic guitar in hand.
“They asked me if I minded wearing jewelry for the show, and I said ‘No,’” Jewel told the crowd, “‘I’ll wear all of it.’”