On a recent September afternoon, we were honored to preview the newly renovated Cartier Mansion on Fifth Avenue. With a glass of champagne in one hand and a camera in the other, we took in six floors of beautifully merchandised rooms dedicated to style icons like Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, and Andy Warhol. As we took it all in, a Cartier historian regaled us with tales of the exquisite building.
A few nights later while attending the star-studded, diamond and cavier fueled re-opening, our minds kept wandering back to the show-stopping pearl necklace that made it all possible. Read on to discover the unique circumstances that enabled the jewelry house to acquire this magnificent piece of real estate. – Jenna Fain for The Stone Set
In 1916, Pierre Cartier was on the hunt for a grand-scale, architecturally impressive new home for his New York headquarters. Though Cartier already had a space at 712 Fifth Avenue, the ambitious jewelry brand had outgrown its first US location in just a few short years. Despite visiting a long list of the city’s finest available commercial properties, there was one building he could not get out of his head: a Robert W. Gibson designed Neo-Renaissance corner mansion that echoed the style of the brand’s Paris flagship on the Rue de la Paix. There was only one problem—it wasn’t for sale.
As it turned out, the owner of the mansion Morton F. Plant had his eye on something of Cartier’s as well. The yacht-loving, recently widowed financier had recently wed Maisie Manwaring, a waitress 30 years his junior. As one can imagine, such a match caused quite a scandal among upper-crust New York Society.
Seeking to shed her modest origins and gain legitimacy within her new circle, Maisie became obsessed with a stunning double-strand, natural pearl Cartier necklace. At the time, the pearl was the queen of jewels, eclipsing even diamonds in their perceived rarity and beauty—and Cartier was known for having the finest specimens. Maisie envisioned herself dazzling guests at exclusive soirées held by the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts in a necklace so stunning it was sure to cement her status as a true socialite.
Cartier, knowing Plant would go to great lengths to please his new bride, offered him a deal: the necklace for the mansion. Plant, to Cartier’s delight, took the deal. On January 3rd, 1917, the arrangement was confirmed and after a quick renovation, the Cartier mansion opened in October.
Nearly 100 years later, the mansion just completed an extensive renovation, and reopened to the public in September 2016. Originally laid out over two floors, the building now offers visitors six levels of shopping, a consummate Cartier experience.
Additionally, to mark this momentous occasion, Cartier created a show-stopping natural pearl necklace as an ode to the historic trade made to acquire the mansion. Inspired by the original but even more brilliant version, this necklace comprises three strands of pearls that span a myriad of natural colors, clasped with platinum spread wings. It is truly a sight to behold, and a testament to Cartier’s continued dedication to beauty and excellence.
Take in the splendor for yourself, and view the natural pearl necklace inspired by the legendary trade, now on display at the mansion:
653 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10022
Text and photography by Emerald Carroll for The Stone Set