Christmas Pearls: the prize

Watching the archive film of skaters at the Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan at Somerset House’s Fashioning Winter, it is remarkable how modern the skaters look, film quality aside.  The Rockefellers and other wealthy families of the USA’s “gilded age” spent lavishly on art and jewellery as well as on public works.

One of the most intriguing stories is of Mrs Mortimer Plant who possessed persuasive powers of such intensity that she managed to influence her husband to exchange his Fifth Avenue Manhattan mansion for a single strand of flawless natural pearls. To this day, Cartier still occupies the property they acquired in this legendary trade.

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