Boston Home

Green With Envy

This enchanting emerald and other spectacular gems will soon be on view at the MFA Boston.

Photo courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The famed General Foods heiress, Marjorie Merriweather Post, had a passion for emeralds. Among the dazzling gems in her collection was this platinum-and-diamond brooch that features a 60-karat emerald at its center. Carved in India in the 17th century, the emerald displays iris blossoms on the front. The reverse, carved later, features a carnation. After purchasing the emerald in Bombay in the 1920s, American retailer Marcus & Co. had Oscar Heyman & Brothers fabricate the brooch, which involved adding a horizontal bar with two large table-cut emeralds and diamond swag with 13 tear-shaped emerald drops. Post acquired the piece soon after it was created, and it has been in the MFA’s collections since 2008 but never on permanent display. Next spring, however, it will be part of the museum’s newly renovated Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation Gallery for Jewelry. The gallery will feature 150 highlights from the museum’s world-renowned jewelry collection. Ornaments crafted over the past 6,000 years will be showcased, including ancient artifacts, fine jewelry, costume jewelry, and jewelry by contemporary artists. Highlights include an Egyptian broad-collar necklace, 19th-century works by Alessandro Castellani and Carlo Giuliano, 20th-century designs by Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari, and fashion jewelry by Chanel, Dior, and Elsa Peretti. Bostonians are privileged: The gallery will be one of a few solely dedicated to jewelry at major U.S. museums.

First published in the print edition of Boston Home’s Winter 2024 issue, with the headline “Green With Envy.”