Declared ‘the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers’ by King Edward VII of England, Cartier is one of the finest jewellery houses in the world. The brand’s signature designs — ranging from diamond-encrusted Panthère brooches and rings to the distinctive Juste Un Clou and Love bracelets — are revered among jewellery collectors and regularly achieve top prices at auction.
Cartier was founded in Paris in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier. His son Alfred took control of the company in 1874, by which time it already had an excellent reputation. However, it was Alfred’s three sons — Louis, Pierre and Jacques — who would go on to establish Cartier as a world-famous jewellery brand.
While Louis retained the responsibility for Paris, in 1902 Jacques went to London. He received the Royal Warrant only two years later, thereby supplying jewellery to King Edward VII and his court. The Maison’s reputation was such that at the coronation of King George V in June 1911, 19 of the tiaras worn at the ceremony were by Cartier.
Pierre travelled to New York where, in 1917, he famously acquired 653 Fifth Avenue for two strands of the very finest pearls. This piece of prime real estate remains a flagship store to this day. Since then, Cartier has expanded globally, with more than 200 boutiques around the world. Its clientele has encompassed royalty, film stars and business tycoons. King Farouk of Egypt, The Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Clark Gable all made their way to Cartier to buy or have their jewellery made.
Cartier has always been at the forefront of change and innovation. First created in 1913, the Mystery clock shows hands ‘floating’ with no visible mechanism, combining elegant design with technological genius. The ‘Tutti-Frutti’ pieces of the 1920s and ‘30s assimilated Indian Mughal craftsmanship into a vibrant new style of multi-gem jewellery. One of the most popular pieces in recent years has been the Cartier Love bangle. Accompanied by a screwdriver to ‘lock’ the bracelet onto its wearer, it’s a symbol of steadfast devotion.
Cartier watches are no less original in design. The Cartier Tank watch was inspired by a combat vehicle seen from above, while the Cartier Crash watch stretches and bends the watch face into an asymmetric, avant-garde accessory.
SIGNED CARTIER PARIS, 1843, CIRCA 1920
PARIS, CIRCA 1900, THE CLOCK MARK OF CARTIER