And yes, Weber did take many new photographs for the book. There’s a moody photo of two young, latter-day Fitzgerald types wearing tiaras with their morning coats; TKTK wearing Gloria Swanson’s platinum, diamond, and rock crystal cuffs; and Rainero’s two favorites, both of the same little girl. In the first, she is all anticipation, waiting to be “crowned” with diamonds. (That one made the cover.) Inside, she grins with joy, the tiara in its rightful place on her head.
Some of the book’s wittiest moments come in still life, not a medium for which Weber is known. “Sometimes, after working with people and animals for days on end, I like the idea of going to something you can push around a little more,” he says. He thus has his way with a pair of emerald-eyed, diamond, gold and black enamel CK panther pins, thrusting them amongst a pile of little plastic muscle men: “I love the toy-ness of jewelry.” And he demystifies the heiress-fashion editor Daisy Fellowes by using her amethyst-bead necklace as a flashy prop for a picnic spread of peanut butter and jelly.
Such approachability is one of the book’s paradoxes, and hearkens back to Weber’s first memories of Cartier. Despite his casual-guy disclaimer, the jeweler has intrigued him at least a little since his days at N.Y.U. Film School, when he was struck by the notion of possessing a rolling ring. Decked in torn jeans and a rock ’n’ roll T-shirt, he entered the Plants’ former residence, where he found a pleasant browsing experience, if not a ring he could swing at the moment. “No one’s in love with me right now, so no one’s going to give me one,” he thought. “I better save up and get one myself.” A year or so later, he bought the ring. “The thing I loved about Cartier was that anybody, anywhere could walk in and be treated with courtesy and respect,” Weber recalls. “I loved that feeling that you could walk into a store and think, ‘Oh my God. Someday…’”