Weak in the Presence of Beauty. July 2017.

Dear Rowley,

It is ten years since Cartier last launched its high jewellery collection, L’Inde Mysterieuse, in London at Lancaster House. That was one of the most glamorous parties of my life, crowned when legendary beauty the Rajmata of Jaipur made one of her final appearances. So it was with great pleasure that I accepted the invitation to Résonances de Cartier at the Reform Club last week.

Though there is an avalanche of money in London right now, I maintain that true glamour is elusive. There’s plenty of flash but little old school elegance. But when Cartier host a party you can guarantee that every detail is considered, that the guests rise to the occasion and the evening goes as smoothly as a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.

For Résonances de Cartier, one entered via the Reform Club’s candle-lit gardens where a harpist played and Cartier bellhops in pillbox hats and incredibly tight trousers served champagne. The first person I bumped into was Vogue jewellery editor Carol Woolton who was speaking to  a goddess in a floor-length sapphire blue silk siren dress.

The goddess was model-du-jour Arizona Muse whose beauty was quite simply breathtaking. Photographs don’t do this lady justice. Her skin was absolutely flawless and her hair styled into 1950s Grace Kelly curls. These women are as rare as natural pearls: genetically blessed to the point that you go weak in the presence, gay or straight.

I’d popped out my grandmother’s faux diamond and jet 50s Dior brooch to wear with a silver-flecked bouclé wool DJ tailored by Sir Tom Baker. Arizona thought it was cool to which I could only reply ‘yours aren’t so bad either’ pointing to Cartier earrings marginally larger than the chandeliers in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.

Lady Woolton, Lisa Armstrong and I toured the 600 piece Cartier display with the curator of the archive collection. For the most part, this was a selling collection of Résonances de Cartier high jewellery but there were also antique pieces on display.

You know that I am a pushover for provenance. One of the star pieces bar none was a large Romanov sapphire set as a Deco diamond bracelet. The stone was one of a matching pair of sapphires that had belonged to the Grand Duchess Marie. I also adored a rock crystal and diamond cuff reminiscent of the Sunset Boulevard bracelets made for Gloria Swanson and an amethyst demi-parure made for Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, Duchess of Marlborough.

There was in fact an embarrassment of riches in the white room-within-room display cases that sprawled over two floors of the Reform Club. The house had already hosted receptions for their high-rolling clients many of whom fly in specially for the high jewellery sales. To be honest I would walk over hot coals to see the black pearl Cartier had on display large enough to rival Mary Tudor’s La Peregrina.

Cartier is almost entirely responsible for seducing me to the dark side of watchmaking. The Mystery clocks are pieces of great beauty and I do think that Cartier is unique in getting the ‘bracelet that tells the time’ balance of art and craft into jewelled watches.

My favourite Cartier watch on show was a diamond and onyx panthère with emerald eyes draped around a watch face concealed by a cabochon ruby. One dreams of being sufficiently flush to point at the diamond and ruby Panthère watch and instruct a white glove to place a ‘sold’ dot next to this rare beauty. If my Jewellery for Gentlemen book sells well next year I might treat myself to the Cartier Panthère pin on show at the Reform.

Speaking of Jewellery for Gentlemen, I do need to get a little investment going for the antique jewellery stock I want to sell at The Wedding Gallery at No 1 Marylebone. My career to date has pretty much been about selling words. I think it is high time I trusted my taste in jewellery and sell something three-dimensional.

I’m talking to the lovely Mr Loxton at Lucas Rarities about signed antique jewellery by the big guns Cartier, Van Cleef, Boucheron, Flato, Belperron and Verdura. The jewellery I’d like to buy is unsigned precious pieces such as stick pins, tie studs and cufflinks that will retail for the hundreds not the thousands.

But back to the Cartier party. As an amusing touch, Cartier set up a studio for photographer George Harvey to photograph guests wearing pieces from the Résonances collection. Ordinarily I would have wrestled the other guests to the ground for the opportunity to be photographed in a Cartier bandeau diamond tiara but sadly it was pumpkin time because I had an 8.30am meeting at Armani the next morning.

Could this possibly be a sign of growing-up I wonder? The talk of the party was all about the mass exodus of the old regime at Vogue and former fashion director Lucinda Chambers’ Mommie Dearest interview about Condé Nast. All one can say is that she managed to grin and bear it for nigh on four decades so it can’t have been all bad.

Until next time…