SET IN INTRICATE ONYX AND EMERALD CUTS, CARTIER’S LAVISH INFLUENCE SPANS OVER A CENTURY THAT BEGAN WITH A FAR EAST ODYSSEY.
Family hands have passed down the exquisite jewel cut legacy. From Louis François Cartier, who opened his first shop in Paris in 1847, to his son Alfred Cartier, to Alfred’s three sons, Louis, Pierre and Jacques Cartier, the family lineage has stayed deeply embedded in the luxury jeweler’s house. Among the French and English aristocracy who were the first to don the gems, far out adventure extended the Cartier’s brother’s fortune east of Paris, first to Russia then to India where great kings and Maharajah princes fell under Cartier’s jeweled spell.
KING CUT GEMS
The brothers’ 1911 India travels brought exotic shapes, stones and finishes to Cartier’s mastery. Their French craft beguiled Indian princes and Maharajah in Paris and London and the mutual admiration enlisted Cartier to mount their impressive royal collection of unfinished stones. East merged west and the Cartier brothers fused traditional Indian designs with contemporary artistry, sculpting the grounds on which the house still stands. Far Eastern influence brought and exotica back to Paris, which powerfully impacted the “curios” influenced designs. Florals, palmettes and fruit motifs in never before seen colour variations of rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds mounted in platinum attracted clients in London, Paris and New York under Cartier iconic tag, “Jeweler of Kings”.
The panther crept into Cartier’s world in 1914 and it was Jeanne Toussaint who immortalised the maison’s animal in its white gold, diamond, emerald and onyx insignia. Recognized as the Coco Chanel of jewels, Jeanne Toussaint’s influence was a key fixture in Cartier’s creative direction and she was nicknamed “La panthère” for her fiery ideas and tiger skin coats. The panther pelt pattern fired the start to Cartier’s jeweled animal kingdom, which grew to include crocodiles, flamingos, butterflies and Far East exotica among other fine cut gems. Traveling to discover foreign cultures for Cartier designs was an elemental quest for Toussaint and she did so with cutting edge taste that made her designs soar through the Art Deco movements of the 1920s through to the 70s. Chiseled by her modern aesthetic, her animal jeweled menagerie expanded further into Africa’s wild felines, Ancient Egypt’s sacred symbols, Pacific tortoise shells, dolphins, birds of paradise and fireflies. Sapphires, rubies, platinum, emeralds, pearls and an endless colour spectrum of diamonds made up Cartier’s exotica under Toussaint’s bold direction.
When the love revolution swept New York through the 60s, Cartier jumped on board with a bracelet designed to lock on and not come off. Set with 10 cut diamonds, the 18k solid gold Love bracelet comes with a Cartier screwdriver to lock on a lover, or luxury love commitment. Cartier’s famous Love bracelet has hit multiple milestones since its launch and the piece has been the talk of media and celebrity hype while staying in high desirability on Cartier’s it list.
Cartier’s evolution has transgressed over a century and 2014 saw a new chapter to harmonize the brand’s artistic dedication. Tucked in an 18th century farmhouse in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, Cartier has established an enclave in which to centralise the house’s legacy. With thirty artisans working under one roof, Cartier’s penchant for exotica and unprecedented craft continues to lie in the hands of white lab coat clad jewelers who cut hair-fine diamonds to mimic Ecuadorian roses with millimetre scalpel precision. Equivalent to ‘les petites mains’ of Paris’ couturiers, these jewelers of the house’s Horlogerie division continue to pursue following 19th century watchmaking techniques. Like the pocket watch worn broaches or chatelaines, Cartier’s craft continues to hold strong like the panther’s time-ticking exotica.
The panther is the house’s signature icon and the original cast in white gold, diamonds, emeralds and onyx has been a Cartier mainstay since 1914.
The Cartier business is founded in Paris by master jeweller Louis-François Cartier, who passes on the family legacy on to his son, then to his three grandsons, each of whom follows the business reigns to expand into France, England, India and America.
With sights set on foreign land, the Cartier brothers travel to Russia to bring home regal inspiration and the Russian aristocracy sways into the Cartier world.
The brothers open a store on Bond Street in London, which intrigues and attracts English aristocracy. The youngest, Pierre Cartier, moves to New York and brings Cartier to America which immediately attracts the rich new world, Broadway’s silent movie stars and Hollywood followed suit.
Following the footsteps of his new found royal family ties, Cartier opens a business in India.
The panther appears on a wristwatch design for the first time. The trademark continues to span the century and develop in various permutations of broaches and bracelets, cast in platinum and encrusted in black onyx.
As a purveyor of the wristwatch of the future, Cartier creates the iconic Tank Watch with a strap designed to mirror the look of a military assault vehicle.
After an incredibly successful and profitable Fifth Avenue New York launch, Cartier creates a new division titled “S”, with new designs like yellow, white and pink gold interlocked bands that become global bestsellers.
Known as the Coco Chanel of jewels, Jeanne Toussaint becomes Cartier’s Creative Director of the “haute joaillerie” division until 1970. She brings a fresh air of creativity to the house and reinforces Cartier’s panther icon.
Two Cartier brothers, Louis and Jacques Cartier pass away, leaving the family business to the youngest brother Pierre to take the helm.
Movie stars and high society women like Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly fill their jewelry boxes with Cartier jewels and platinum engagement rings.
Cartier’s ‘Crash’ and ‘Baignoires’ watch styles continue to lead the jeweled market, but the company begins to slow in growth until new investors step in to invigorate the brand in the 1970s.
Following the hype of Cartier’s panther and Love bracelet, the 70s was the height of high end hippie glam deluxe, alongside the movie stars, musicians and artists who enamoured the brand’s world.
The Maison of Cartier continues to commission leaps of decadent iconography such as the famous crocodile necklace, cut with 1,023 yellow diamonds and 1,060 emeralds.
Cartier adds 100 new styles to its famous watch collection and expands into unique shapes like ‘Tortue’ and ‘Tonneau’.
Cartier is acquired by Richemont Group and the brand progresses with major moves, expanding to over 200 globally owned retails stores.
Cartier unveils an Urban, Solar, Luxuriant and Boreal collection in an exhibition titled, “The Art of Cartier” in Madrid’s Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Cartier opens Maison des Métiers d’Art in an 18th century farmhouse in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.
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