There is, perhaps, no red-carpet accessory more timeless than Cartier jewelry. Since the early 1900s, the brand has been the preferred choice among fashion icons (and the super-rich) thanks to the house’s high-quality work and innovative designs. (A single piece can require more than 300 hours of labor.) This month, the Denver Art Museum rolls out the proverbial rug for the world’s most celebrated jeweler with its exclusive exhibition Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century (November 16 through March 15, 2015). But the show is more than just a display case for Cartier’s striking baubles and timepieces (a Cartier brother invented one of the first modern wristwatches). Hand-drawn sketches, like this plan for an Elizabeth Taylor original, provide a colorful portal into the brand’s history. The bespoke necklace is anchored by “La Peregrina,” a pear-shaped pearl once worn by Mary Tudor. Taylor’s directives to the design house in 1972 are written in red ink. “We want people to be able to see the jewelry, the look, but also put it in the social context of the times,” says curator Margaret Young-Sanchez. “You can read 20th-century history through Cartier pieces.”

(Check out Cartier-inspired accessories to add to your wardrobe)