The engagement ring worn by HSH Princess Grace of Monaco, fashioned with platinum, one 10.48-carat emerald-cut diamond, and two baguette-cut diamonds by Cartier Paris in 1956.
Margaret Young-Sanchez, curator of "Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century" at the Denver Art Museum, says the attraction of Cartier is that "the jewelry is extravagant and gorgeous and incredibly meticulously made. So you're dazzled by both the beauty and then the intricacy."
Countess of Granard
Cartier has been dazzling customers since 1847, catering to European aristocrats and royalty.
Left: A necklace worn by the Countess of Granard, a special order from Cartier London, 1932. Platinum, diamonds, emerald.
Cartier And Sons
The third generation of Cartier -- Pierre, Louis and Jacques, pictured with their father, Alfred - wanted to make their firm more than just a royal household name.
"They were the ones who had the ambition and the vision to say, 'We don't want to be one of many jewelry houses in Paris; we want to be the preeminent jewelry house in the world,'" curator Margaret Young-Sanchez told CBS News' Jane Pauley.
Cartier would become synonymous with the glamour of Hollywood -- 20th century royalty -- including film stars Elizabeth Taylor, Gloria Swanson, Vivien Leigh, Lauren Bacall, Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo.
At the Denver Art Museum curator Margaret Young-Sanchez tours the exhibition of Cartier jewelry with CBS News correspondent Jane Pauley.
A necklace created by Cartier Paris for Sir Bhupindra Singh, Maharaja of Patiala, 1928. Platinum, diamonds, zirconias, topazes, synthetic rubies, smoky quartz, citrine.
Maharajah of Patiala
Sir Yadavindra Singh, the Maharajah of Patiala, wears a diamond and platinum parade necklace created by Cartier in 1928 for his father, Sir Bhupindar Singh of Patiala.
The Maharaja had brought "boxes and boxes" of jewels to Cartier Paris, said Young-Sanchez. "He commissioned Cartier to make him dozens of pieces of jewelry. This is probably the single most spectacular piece that Cartier made for him. It covers the entire chest. It incorporated the De Beers diamond, which was the big yellow diamond.
"Supposedly he wanted something so large and imposing because he wanted his subjects to be able to see him when he was riding on top of his elephant."
Egyptian Striking Clock
Created by Cartier in 1927, this Egyptian Striking Clock features gold, silver gilt, mother of pearl coral, emerald, cornelia and enamel, lapis lazuli and enamel.
Actress Merle Oberon owned this necklace featuring Old European- and single-cut diamonds, and slightly baroque-shaped emerald cabochon drops. Created by Cartier London in 1938, and lengthened by Cartier Paris in 1963.
A Hindu necklace (dubbed the "Tutti-Frutti Necklace") made up of 13 briolette-cut pendant sapphires totaling 146.90 carats, leaf-shaped 50.80 carat sapphires and a 42.45 carat sapphire on the clasp, smooth sapphire and emerald beads, ribbed and engraved emeralds, and leaf-shaped engraved ruby beads or cabochons, with a platinum mount and marquise cut diamonds, mine cut baguettes and beads. Commissioned from Cartier Paris in 1936 by Daisy Fellowes, an heiress, socialite and fashion plate, said Young-Sanchez. "She really loved to be in the forefront of fashion -- whether that was in her home, in her interior decorating, or her clothing or her jewelry.
"She always stayed ahead of the trends. She owned this tutti frutti necklace, which is probably the most famous of all of Cartier's pieces of tutti frutti jewelry. It's also been called fruit salad jewelry -- a beautiful, profuse arrangement."
Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, wore this flamingo brooch from Cartier Paris, 1940. Platinum, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires and citrine. Many of the stones were actually supplied by the Duke and Duchess.
Curator Young-Sanchez says the Duchess aspired to be the most fashionable woman in the world.
"She really liked strong colors and very sculptural, bold jewelry," she said. "It wasn't subtle, but it also was not overpowering or tasteless in any way."
Duchess of Windsor
The Duchess of Windsor's bib necklace, a special order from Cartier Paris in 1947, was made with twisted 18 carat and 20 carat gold, platinum, brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds, one heart-shaped faceted amethyst, twenty-seven emerald-cut amethysts, one oval faceted amethyst, and turquoise cabochons.
A panther clip brooch made for Duchess of Windsor by Cartier Paris, 1949. Platinum, white gold, single-cut diamonds, two pear-shaped yellow diamonds, one 152.35-carat Kashmir sapphire cabochon, and sapphire cabochons.
This drawing from the Cartier Archives shows the design for a panther bracelet (platinum, diamonds and onyx) acquired by the Duchess of Windsor in 1952.
This 1954 Tiger lorgnette from Cartier Paris, made with gold, enamel, emeralds and glass, was owned by the Duchess of Windsor.
A peacock bird brooch from Cartier Paris, 1948. Platinum, diamonds.
A necklace worn by HSH Princess Grace of Monaco, by Cartier Paris, 1953. Platinum, brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds weighing approximately 64 carats in total.
This poodle brooch from Cartier Paris was owned by Princess Grace of Monaco. Made of platinum, white gold, with round, baguette- and brilliant-cut diamonds, rubies (for eyes), and an onyx nose. The tail and one paw are movable.
A set of three clip brooches from Cartier Paris worn by Princess Grace of Monaco. Platinum, brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds, and three cabochon rubies weighing approximately 49 carats in total.
Elizabeth Taylor tries on the ruby and diamond set by Cartier -- a gift from husband Mike Todd -- in Saint-Jean-Cap Ferrat, August 1957.
A platinum, diamond and ruby necklace worn by Elizabeth Taylor from Cartier Paris, 1951, altered in 1953.
Crocodile necklace (gold, diamonds, emeralds, rubies) made as a special order for actress María Félix by Cartier Paris, 1975.
Detail from the crocodile necklace created for actress María Félix by Cartier Paris, 1975.
"According to the story, she actually brought a little baby crocodile into the Cartier store and said, 'I'd like you to make me a crocodile out of gold,'" said Young-Sanchez. "And so this is the design that they came up with. And it's incredibly naturalistic. Those are really accurate versions of little crocodiles."
A snake necklace, sold to Maria Felix, made from platinum, white gold and yellow gold, 2 473 brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds, weighing 178.21 carat in total, two pear-shaped emeralds (eyes), green, red and black enamel, articulated around a highly complex armature of platinum and gold. The necklace took two years to create.
For more info:
"Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century," at the Denver Art Museum (through March 15, 2015)
"Cartier in the 20th Century" by Margaret Young-Sanchez (Vendom Press/Denver Art Museum)
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan