How many luxury jewellery brands can boast a long list of truly regal clients, from the Maharajas of India to the British royal family, and even Hollywood royalty like Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly? Well one renowned house can for certain: Cartier.
The maison was founded in 1847 when Louis-François Cartier took over his master’s workshop, but it was his three grandsons who elevated the brand to the highest heights of the high jewellery world. Their father had put Cartier on the map with the move to Rue de La Paix in Paris. Yet, it was the forward thinking and exacting craftsmanship standards of Louis Cartier and his brothers Pierre and Jacques that ushered in the golden age of Cartier.
From creating the first wristwatch to producing the iconic Tutti Frutti pieces during the Art Deco era – not to mention ties to the most famous diamonds in the world – Cartier was on its way to creating a lasting legacy that would endure the ages.
The business is no longer family-run but has since become a globally recognized design house synonymous with luxury.
Cartier’s storied history is as fascinating as the gems it involves.
Cartier briefly owned the infamous Hope Diamond, believed to be cursed. Pierre Cartier set the 45-carat royal blue diamond with a halo of white diamonds at the request of buyer Evalyn Walsh McLean, a prominent socialite who brought notoriety to the Cartier brand with her purchase.
There was also the famous 69-carat Cartier diamond, the largest to ever be privately owned, that was bought by Richard Burton as a gift for his wife, Elizabeth Taylor. He would later gift another renowned Cartier diamond to his wife: the heart-shaped Taj Mahal Diamond.
With links to India since well before that, Cartier was often commissioned to create lavish jewellery for Indian royalty, including the famous Patiala necklace, set with nearly 1,000 carats of diamonds.
Perhaps the best known Cartier offering is their signature panther, first depicted on a wristwatch in 1914. Thanks to the creative vision of Jeanne Toussaint, the first designer credited with exploring femininity through the panther, the motif soon became an intrinsic aspect of many Cartier creations, from cigarette boxes to brooches.
Cartier’s newest high jewellery offering is a showstopping and ever regal line that features its favourite emblematic animal, alongside other wild and organic elements. This nature-inspired collection couldn’t come at a better time, when life in lockdown has everyone craving a taste of the natural world.
The [Sur]Naturel collection celebrates Mother Nature with flora and fauna designs, such as the Panthère Tropical timepiece that encapsulates the vivid colour and beauty of a rainforest with coral, aquamarine and tourmaline. And of course, onyx and white diamonds to represent the spots of their mainstay mascot.
The panther motif is reimagined further in the Hemis necklace, with its irregularly shaped opals to represent a panther’s fur. Set atop in the centre is a richly hued cushion-shaped kunzite weighing nearly 72 carats.
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