Maison Cartier – Timeless Design and Unmatched Craftsmanship

Bandeau Cartier Paris 1922 Platinum, Gold, Rose cut and round diamonds, coral, onyx, tortoiseshell and black enamel

Cartier Showroom 13 Rue de La Paix, Paris at the turn of the twentieth century

Maison Cartier and its evolution is about a dream that became a reality. It is about one man and the philosophy attached to his imagining the future of his chosen industry and applying both the dedication and commitment needed to achieve and maintain high standards in both design and manufacturing excellence.

When Louis-François Cartier (1819 – 1904) first registered his craftsman’s hallmark, a lozenge with a heart inside flanked by his initials L and C, it was the beginning of an ongoing love story for he, his family and the Maison Cartier that he founded.

Its story is an amazing odyssey of timeless design and unmatched craftsmanship.

During the early nineteenth century Adolphe Picard established his wholesale jewellery business at 29, Rue Montorgueil at Paris and taught his young apprentice Louis-Francois Cartier (1819-1904) the jewellery trade.

It was in his workshop the young Cartier began his climb to greatness when an aging Picard placed his business in the competent younger man’s hands in 1847.

The Trade Registry recorded the event as follows; ‘successor of Mr. Picard, manufacturer of jewels, imaginative jewellery, fashion and novelty items’.  This happened during a time when scientists were exploring the universe endeavouring to discover the very ‘poetry of existence’*.

Day and Night Comet Clock, Cartier Paris 1920 The sun (day) and star (night) are fixed to a disk that rotates once every 24 hours. It has an 8 day movement

Throughout his life Louis-Francois Cartier was passionate and committed to his vision of being, and always remaining, at the cutting edge of contemporary design.

He aimed for establishing and maintaining high standards on every level in his field of expertise, achieving remarkable success through hard work and by sharing his considerable vision with his colleagues and heirs.

Since he founded the now world-renowned Maison Cartier it has gone from strength to strength, continually being identified with excellence and expertise in the ever evolving story of design history and the decorative arts.

Sir Digvijaysinhji, Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawanagar in 1935 wearing the emerald and diamond necklace created by Cartier London in 1926 for his uncle, Maharaja Jam Saheb Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji

The acceleration of considered archaeology in Europe, England and Egypt during the mid 19th century was also elevating notions of goodness, unrequited love and a passionate pursuit of perfection.

The many wonderful ancient gold and bejewelled objects being brought forth from the ground would both bedazzle and inspire artists and artisans for more than a half a century.

Some of history’s most legendary figures as well its greatest hosts and hostesses, have worn the timeless designs in jewellery and admired the ingenuity of the splendid objet d’art produced by Maison Cartier.

This did not always mean their jewellery was only about women.

Over the second half of the nineteenth, and well into the twentieth century, relationships with many important Eastern men were also established.

What they shared was a philosophy that was all about embracing the modern age.

Parure: Cartier Paris c1860 Gold, oval and pear shaped faceted amethysts and tortoishell

The Maharaja of Patiala, Sir Bhupindra Singh, opened his treasury and provided Cartier with a fabulous collection of stones for them to fashion a special order of jewellery pieces.

His fabulous diamond necklace showcased at its centre the ‘Victoria’ or ‘De Beers diamond’ of 234.69 carats and was made in 1926.

Cartier held a special exhibition to display the principle pieces before their delivery; photographs filled a 36 page album.

French jewels and wares were rarely marked during the nineteenth century, except for those exhibited at world fairs.

France’s Emperor Louis Napoleon (1808-1873) encouraged French firms to showcase their wares in The Great Exhibition at London in 1851 by providing sponsorship.

Egyptian Temple Gate Clock, Cartier Paris 1927

This first major huge international fair, supported by the ideas and influence of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort, generated a growing interest in Europe, England, America and Australia for that of luxury and the tone was set by high society and exemplified by the great ladies of the demi-monde.

When people today talk about gemology and gems it is clear that some basic vocabulary has become confused. Gemstones are the treasured minerals found in the earth. ‘Gems’ are the objects fashioned from them.

Jewels are gems that have been prepared for mounting in jewellery or other objects of art. Jewellery is the finished product that adorns its wearer.

The second half of the nineteenth century in Europe is characterised by a continuing spirit of retrospection in the arts and great jewellery was worn in abundance.

Tricolour Brooch of 'Freed Bird' courtesy Cartier Collection, Geneva

Tricolour Brooch of ‘Freed Bird’ courtesy Cartier Collection, Geneva

During this so-called glittering ‘gilded age’ Cartier sought the patronage of the courts of Europe, while also catering to the tastes and pockets of an ever-growing bourgeoisie.

The growth of publishing via the new wealth generated by the industrial revolution helped to widen the expansion of knowledge about historical design styles and varying techniques of manufacture.

It also inspired innovation and development of new techniques as well as highlighted the importance of customer service.

England, Europe and America all had their sights fixed on exotic lands in both the Middle and Far East and during the second half of the nineteenth century landmark decorative style pattern books erupted.

Owen Jones’s The Grammar of Ornament was one publication that was very influential. It became a huge source of inspiration for both exotic motifs and design styles from many different cultures and ancient civilizations.

Egyptian ornament from ‘The Grammar of Ornament’ by Owen Jones

The French were heavily involved in the excavations at Egypt. In 1798 Napoleon had invaded and occupied Egypt; founding the Institut National d’Égypte. His 300 strong team of scholars and artists roamed the entire country, cataloguing and drawing everything they came across completing more than 3000 drawings.

A year later French engineers visited the Valley of the Kings and in 1809 the Institut published “Description de l’Égypte, ou Receuil des Observations et des Recherches qui ont été faites en Egypte”.

From 1816 – 1822 was a period of intense excavation and discovery. Giovanni Battista Belzoni arrived in Egypt and commenced collecting antiquities for the British consul, Henry Salt. In 1817 he excavated in the Valley of the Kings and in 1818 opened up the Pyramid of Khafre. Then the big breakthrough came.

Jean-Francois Champollion (1790-1832) deciphered hieroglyphics and many of ancient Egypt’s mysteries were revealed, leading to future discoveries and the continuing influence of the ‘Egyptian style’.

Breast Ornament designed as two sprays of lilies, Cartier Paris 1906 Platinum, round old and rose-cut diamonds

During the second half of the nineteenth century Louis-Francois Cartier was well known for encouraging his draughtsman to wander the streets at Paris, recording their own lasting impressions of the many and varied styles of decorative ornament used on classical style buildings from the eighteenth and seventeenth centuries.

This type of inspiration and the sketches they made resulted in the garland style, one that would forever be associated with the Cartier name.

Aristocratic articulate, light and superb creations were received with great enthusiasm by a very wealthy clientele on both sides of the Atlantic.

Cartier specialized in hair ornaments, the diadem, the tiara, the aigrette and the bandeau, which were all important fashionable accessories of this time.

Today they are being worn by modern brides as symbols of love.

Cartier 1906 Choker Necklace of Rose Cut Diamonds

Cartier jewels were delicate, had finesse and complemented the beautiful bespoke fashion designed by Worth Brothers, the leading Parisian couturiers.

They clothed all the most stylish women of their day in delicate softly coloured silks; lilac, pink, yellow, mauve, straw and hydrangea blue.

Bodice of Gown by Charles Frederick Worth

Apart from tiaras, the breast ornament with its motifs of acanthus leaves, laurel wreaths and garlands of lilies and roses made of round and rose cut diamonds set into platinum, harmonized with changes in fashion.

Elegant choker style necklaces that enmeshed the throat like a glorious fishnet highlighted the face. They were in fashion from around 1880 and remained that way until the outbreak of World War I.

The ‘garland’ style featured swags and garlands laurel wreaths and bow knots, tassels and lace motifs, which are all exemplified and showcased by the design of a Cartier invitation card of 1917 engraved with the names of its by now three landmark addresses, Paris, London and New York.

Alfred Cartier and his three sons, left to right Pierre (NY) Louis (Paris) Jacques (London)

It was 1898 when Maison Cartier moved their showroom to number 13 Rue de La Paix at Paris where it still remains today. The area had become over the previous few decades the most important district at Paris for French fashion houses, and together with the addition of jewellery houses such as Cartier, the street would become one of the most important and most expensive boulevards in the world.

This was during an age of great elegance, when a prevailing appreciation of the design aesthetic was both cultivated and admired.

By this point in the journey Louis-Francois’s son Alfred Cartier (1841 – 1925) whom he had worked creatively with in concert as he grew older, was now busy guiding the firm.

Alfred had also raised three clever and creative sons of his own, Pierre-Camille (1878-1964) Louis –Joseph (1875-1942) and Jacques-Theodule (1884-1941).

Cartier Showroom Rue de La Paix at the turn of the twentieth century

They developed a set of unique skills that when combined would, during the 20th century, elevate the Cartier name to greatness.

To ensure that their inspiration would remain always fresh, the brothers Cartier travelled the world, ensuring that the now famous brand would reflect their ‘insatiable curiosity’ and that its jewellery and objet d’art would become renowned as ‘fabulous fables’.

Jacques opened the first Cartier showroom at London in 1902 and the dashing Edward, Prince of Wales, who was the darling of both high society and the bourgeoisie, described the Maison Cartier as “Jeweller to Kings and the King of Jewellers”. His word meant a great deal and his ‘celebrity’ endorsement and orders were indeed welcome.

When he became King Edward in 1904 he honored the company with a royal warrant, which was matched by many other courts in Europe.

King Edward VII’s consort Queen Alexandra wearing Cartier

He also commissioned a superb diamond résille necklace for Queen Alexandra, which she adored and wore often and it was recorded for posterity when Francois Flameng painted her portrait in 1908.

The Edwardian period in England was the aftermath of the Victorian age, and the watershed of the modern age. It was a decade where all the expansionist and imperialist features of the previous century were still displayed to excess and one in which the political tensions and economic frailties of the present century became apparent.

La-Belle-EpoqueIt complimented La Belle Époque, that beautiful era in Europe, which started around 1890 when France and its European neighbours were at peace. This was a time of great political and social contrasts. Art and design flourished and music became accessible to a wider audience than ever before with the invention of the gramophone. Lovely melodies and romantic songs previously performed only in a Salon were recorded, tugging at the heartstrings. At Paris in the first decade of the twentieth century, the Cabaret and Can Can thrived and ‘Impressionism’ was the name given to a new style of painting whose deft brushstrokes and lively colours emphasized light in all its changing qualities.

Reflecting light became an important aspect of jewellery, and a major advancement in available cutting tools during the early 1900’s led to modern cuts for diamonds, including the round brilliant.

By increasing the number of facets a variety of different shapes and sizes became available.

While the first wristwatch was created in 1868, Louis-Joseph Cartier is responsible for ensuring that this new innovation would in the future adorn every man’s wrist.

He had a great friend, Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, who asked Louis to design a watch for him that he could during his flights, without having to removed his hands from the controls of the aeroplane. The first Santos wristwatch was born and it went on general sale in 1911.

It was revolutionary, with its ‘modern’ design highlighting the importance of the screws that Louis had observed, held his friend’s riveted paper-thin fuselage together when in flight. Its unique design with rounded corners also allowed for the hands to flow freely over large Roman numerals, making it easy to read as well.

Out of this new range of timepieces designed for men emerged as well as the Cartier ‘mystery clocks’, whose very form suspended time, giving them an illusion of weightlessness as technology bowed down to the triumph of beauty.

At the turn of the 20th century a lady with a panther had appeared as a subject in European art, reminiscent of the ‘Lady in the Unicorn, that famous medieval image that represented chastity and courtly love.

The Lady and the Panther by Erte, (Romain de Tirtoff) (1892-1990)

Belgian artist Walter Sauer’s Femme devenue panthére of 1919 best epitomized a fascination that had been growing with ‘big cats’ and ‘women as cats’.

A panther was first recorded in ancient myths and it is in this context that it would first arrive in the world of jewellery design.

It would also take on erotic overtones, especially when rendered by that famous illustrator of the first half of the 20th century Russian born French artist and designer Erté (Romain de Tirtoff – 1892 – 1990).

This was happening when in Russia the allegory of love was preoccupying goldsmiths and jewellers, none with a more restless imagination than jewellery designer Peter Carl Faberge (1846 – 1920).

Pierre Cartier went on a journey and mission to Russia in 1904 and 1905 to study the political and economic situation, as well as examine the professional success of the jeweller to the Czars Peter Carl Fabergé (1846 – 1920), their famous colleague, whose enameled ‘surprise’ eggs had become famous gifts of love jewellery around the world.

Maison Cartier began manufacturing splendid enamel objects using the ancient enamelling techniques, however offering entirely new and exciting colour combinations as well as a considered refinement of style.

Desk clock with strut, Cartier Paris 1914, translucent yellow enamel with hands in platinum and rose-cut diamonds

Carving, engraving, etching or stamping lines or cells into a metal base, produced the required design. It was then filled with powdered enamel of various colours and fired to fuse them. After firing the surface was smoothed with pumice and polished, so that the entire surface was level.

Selection Pre-War Modern Jewellery Cartier 1904 – 1914

After testing the market Cartier concluded that it would be far safer for them to set up a new business in the United States. The first signs of revolution in Russia were already happening and this would prove to be a wise and wonderful decision.

These were times of great plenty, which would not last and the winds of change were already happening in Europe just as Modernism, with its whole new international design vocabulary began to prevail. It favoured a far more rigorous and formal economy of design and an optimistic view of a life well lived.

This is evidenced by a fine selection of Cartier jewellery dating from 1904 – 1914. Its minimalistic lines were fast becoming an intrinsic and important aspect of contemporary visual culture.

In 1909 Pierre had opened their now world famous salon on Fifth Avenue, New York. Right from the beginning through until today, its name has been associated with numerous and notable patrons.

Rothschild, Roosevelt and Vanderbilt are all names synonymous with not only wealth and style, but also considerable philanthropy, which have since become an integral aspect of many American success stories.

In 1910, Louis Cartier went to Russia to deliver a tiara and while he was there Pierre Cartier sent him a telegram from America announcing the sale of the extraordinary and mysterious blue 44.50-carat diamond to the husband of American mining heiress, Evalyn Walsh McLean for over $300,000.00, a princely sum at the time.

Hope Diamond in its Cartier Setting for Evalyn Walsh McLean

Evalyn McLean wore it first to a “brilliant reception” in February 1912.

During the lavish parties she threw she would hide the diamond somewhere on her estate and invite guests to find it. On other occasions she even allowed her Great Dane dog, to wear it.

In its all-new Cartier setting the rare blue diamond was considered dazzling, yet deadly, flawless but cursed, the ultimate gift of love as well as a talisman of evil. It was the Hope Diamond, which is now in the Smithsonian Institute at New York.

Recently it was also revealed to be a cut down version of Louis XIV’s stunning French Blue diamond, which had been lost during the chaos and disorder of the French Revolution.

But that is quite another story.

Embracing modernism, Maison Cartier continued to ensure that its jewellery remained integral to the fashionable style of social elite from the 30’s all the way to the fifties.

One woman who helped ‘pave the way’ had just become a new member of the staff at Paris. Jeanne Toussaint (1887 – 1978) was for decades both a muse and an inspiration to her colleagues.

She joined the brothers on their travels and collaborated on many designs, including the Cartier whimsical birds. Her trip to the India of the maharajahs helped her to inflame the passions of others for jewels inspired by the Mughal Empire before and after World War 1.

Toussaint was a woman in full flight, enjoying the fun and fantasy of it all. She was employed at the Maison Cartier from 1910 and was there in 1914 when Charles Jacqueau the principal designer of the time first sketched a ‘cat’ to be used on a pendant watch.

From this seed of an idea, once germinated, what would become a Cartier icon would grow.

Selection Post War Cartier Jewellery in the Art Deco Style

Following World War 1 the opulence of the late Victorian period and elegance of Edwardian times were quickly swept away. In its place were the angular geometric shapes of modernism, with the added benefits of refined detailing, superb draughtsmanship and exquisite craftsmanship.

These became hallmarks of Maison Cartier , who were at the forefront of an emerging new style.

As the United States gradually became a world power, the Cartier showcases in New York, Paris and London became a magnet for travelling Americans, who were crossing the Atlantic in increasing numbers. Egypt and its ancient forms provided the ultimate in inspiration.

The building of the Suez Canal 1859 – 69 had originally inspired a fashion for all things Egypt, which was ongoing. The Sphinx had become an image of literary symbolism, underlining her indelible sense of mystery.

The discovery of Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb at Cairo in 1922 meant that the whole world became bedazzled with the magnificence of the objects and jewellery provided for his journey to the afterlife, inspiring the next generation of designers and jewellery design for decades.

In Ancient Egypt the scarab beetle had been all about being given new life and now it became symbol of ‘resurrection’, with brooches set with gems featuring wings in Egyptian blue-glazed faience all the rage.

Balanced against all this exotica Cartier’s Trinity ring of 1924, with its three interlocking bands of gold, became the ideal piece of love jewellery.

It was sensationally simple in its design, and as a ring had no beginning and no end, representing the enduring qualities of true love.

The aim was that it would be worn from generation to generation.

Design impetus was provided by a successful exhibition of the decorative arts held at Paris in 1925 in which Cartier exhibited.

The Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes espoused the pre-eminence of French taste and established a closer relationship between art and industry.

Its effects resounded throughout the 20th century and into our own century as today’s younger generation show an interest in ‘Art Deco’ style.

Cartier’s display in the Pavilion de l’Elegance was decorated with Black Panther skins by the fashion house Jenny and black and white Zebra skins by the Paris couture house ‘Callot Soers’, which was operated by four sisters and known for its exotic detail.

Throughout the 1920’s Cartier’s jewellery design would continue to be influenced by myths and designs from other cultures, including the Indian Mughal Empire that lasted from the 16th to 18th century.

During this period manufacturers at Jaipur in India had become renowned for the high quality of the translucent red enamel they produced, often with details in green, white or blue.

Cartier fully embraced the exciting primary colour scheme and it became a very sophisticated new fashion.

Emeralds, rubies and sapphires became integral to a new type of jewellery offered, now affectionately known as ‘Tutti Frutti’ (Italian for ‘all fruits’).

Emeralds, sapphires and rubies, set off with only the best diamonds or pearls, now all took centre stage for some twenty or so years.

A ‘Sautoir’ made in New York on special order in 1925 is a prime example of the excellence in both design and great stones celebrity hostesses now wanted to wear.

This amazing piece showcased single-cut diamonds set in platinum and features one carved stunning hexagonal 85.60-carat emerald.

Fifty fluted emerald beads, weighing some 517 carats, which were separated by natural pearls, flanked the centrepiece.

One of the most famous and spectacular emerald and diamond jewellery pieces the Cartier Maison ever produced was for one of their legendary clients the very wealthy Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973).

An emerald and diamond pendant shoulder brooch made in 1924, it featured seven spectacular emeralds hanging from a diamond and emerald inset buckle, one of them dating from the 17th century and the Mughal Empire period in India.

Giulio de Blaas’s 1929 portrait of Mrs Post with her daughter Nedenia featured the piece, which takes centre stage. An active philanthropist and supporter of the arts for all her life Mrs Post was a continued supporter of Cartier right though until the 60’s.

The highly skilled workmanship of the pavé diamond ground on the buckle itself is quite exceptional, and this amazing object has always attracted a great deal of attention.

It certainly captures the imagination and takes the focus away from the sitters, as well as overshadows the other fabulous bracelet and pearls Mrs Post is also wearing.

The wives of one of America’s greatest composers Cole Porter and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst both loved the ‘Tutti Frutti’ style and commissioned fabulous pieces. Mrs Porter’s bracelet made in 1925 of carved Indian gemstones was designed as a wavy, diamond-set stem from which sprouted ruby and sapphire leaves and emerald berries.

Of all the pieces made by Cartier the so-called ‘Hindu’ necklace, made on special order for the Hon. Mrs. Reginald Fellowes, is perhaps one of the most famous in the ‘tutti frutti’ style.

Rubies are meant to symbolise peace and prosperity and it is said that those who wear them gain health, wealth, wisdom and love, surely a good enough reason to drape yourself with them if you have the ready necessary.

The Ruby necklace and pearl necklace made for Sir Bhupindra Singh, Maharaja of Patiala (1891-1938) in 1928 was perhaps the ultimate expression of grandeur, that is until it was surpassed by his next order.

The piece he ordered from the Maison Cartier in 1928, and the one he became famous for, is now known as the Patiala Necklace.

It contained some 2,930 diamonds including the world’s 7th largest ‘De Beer’s diamond as its centrepiece weighing in at 428 carats.

It dramatically disappeared in 1948 and was quietly recovered in 1998, with the main diamond and many of its larger stones missing.

Jeanne Toussaint’s exotic journey at Cartier was ongoing. She had been nicknamed the ‘panther’ by her colleagues early in her career, because their skins decorated her apartment.

She guided their luxury jewellery department at Paris from 1933 onward and although not a designer, she worked with those working at Cartier and inspired both her Cartier colleagues and clients alike.

The fabulous flamingo brooch proudly plumed and studded with rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds and with a glossy yellow citrine beak, was designed in 1940 and manufactured by Cartier under Toussaint’s direction.

It was a powerful statement of the commitment American socialite Mrs Simpson and England’s Prince Edward Windsor had made to spend the rest of their lives together.

Mrs Simpson particularly enjoyed avant-garde Art Deco style jewellery, especially when it was made by Cartier and given to her as a gift of love from her ‘Prince’.

It was particularly symbolic, because like swans flamingos are known to mate for life and this is the man who would abdicate the throne for the woman he loved.

While the German army occupied France in 1940 Cartier’s designer Pierre Lemarchand had also courageously created a brooch of a bird imprisoned behind the golden bars of its gilded cage.

The coloured stones used were the French colours – white (diamonds) blue (lapis lazuli) and red (coral). Toussaint was summoned to the headquarters of the German Army where she was imprisoned for a number of days.

The version that appeared in the Maison Cartier window at Paris following France’s liberation at the end of World War II; a bird poised for flight and the cage door open, became perhaps its most famous not because of the value of the stones, but for what it represented, Liberty, fraternity and freedom.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor belonged to the illustrious elite received by Jeanne Toussaint in her stunning Place d’Iéna apartment. The decor won the admiration of that most famous of the recorders of royal woman Sir Cecil Beaton.

He said “An artistic sensibility and a collector’s passion come together to produce a highly intellectual result.”

Toussaint collaborated with designer Pierre Lemarchand when the Cartier image of the Panther we recognize today finally emerged, made of gold and black enamel and laying appropriately on a 116.74-carat emerald.

It became part of the Duchess of Windsor’s Collection in 1948 and more panthers would follow.

One year later the Duchess acquired another platinum panther brooch; this time the big cat was perched atop on a 152.35-carat cabochon sapphire.

Mrs Wallis Simpson became the Duchess of Windsor when she married Edward VII of England, who abdicated his throne for her.

She was undoubtedly the most celebrated woman of that moment in the world.

After the brooch came a diamond and onyx panther bracelet made in 1952. It was fully articulated and encircled the wrist with an explosion of diamonds.

The many stunning pieces of love jewellery fashioned by Cartier and given in love to Wallis by her Prince, King or was it a Duke, really says it all.

What more could any woman want than a man who would give up being a King for love.

English born American actress Elizabeth Taylor bought some of the Duchess of Windsor’s pieces at auction, despite owning outstanding examples of love jewellery.

This included the stunning Cartier ruby-and-diamond necklace with matching earrings and bracelet given to her by her first husband Mike Todd, in Summer 1957, when they had rented a villa, La Fiorentina, near St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the French Riviera.

As they relaxed by the pool, Todd presented Taylor with three famous little red Cartier jewellery boxes that opened up to reveal a necklace, earrings and bracelet – a three-piece ruby and diamond set by Cartier.

Cartier Box containing Burton Taylor Diamond 69.42 Carats set as Ring

Taylor said that the necklace “was like the sun, lit up and made of red fire.”

Actor Richard Burton, who was Elizabeth Taylor’s husband, twice, gave Elizabeth a fabulous necklace of diamonds as a token of their passion and devotion to each other.

The main diamond, which Burton purchased from Cartier as ring, weighed 69.42 carats. They were both passionate people who loved and lived life to the full. He liked to give her jewels and she loved to receive them.

He commissioned Cartier to fashion it into a pendant to hang from an equally fabulous necklace of diamonds. It was a stunning piece of love jewellery for her which had its first public outing in 1969 at Prince Grace of Monaco’s 40th birthday party.  She famously sold the Burton-Taylor diamond in 1978 to fund construction of a hospital in Botswana.

Aldo Cipullo for Maison Cartier designed a bracelet in 1969, which could only be opened by using a special screwdriver supplied with every bracelet, much like a ‘medieval chastity belt’.

With its ‘screw motif band’ it also paid homage to the pioneering spirit of Santos.

Some of the original ‘celebrities’ that chained themselves together for life with the bracelet’s precious link included Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

It was about making love not war, very simple and highly original.

Its success has led to a whole range of sensational contemporary jewellery specifically designed on the theme of love.

Today, perhaps more than any other piece of jewellery made by Maison Cartier is the one that epitomizes their aim of ensuring the jewellery they design can be passed from generation to generation.

It is the ‘so-called  ‘halo’ tiara.

Made in 1936 Edward VIII’s younger brother George purchased and presented it to the love of his life Duchess Elizabeth a few weeks before Edward abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson and he became King George VI.

Halo Tiara courtesy The Royal Collection

Duchess Elizabeth eventually became the Queen Mother and she gave the Cartier tiara to her eldest daughter Elizabeth for her 18th birthday in 1944. In 2011 Queen Elizabeth II lent the tiara to Catherine Middleton, who wore it when she married Her Majesty’s grandson Prince William.

Gold Band and Diamond Band courtesy Cartier

Gold Band and Diamond Band courtesy Cartier

The story of Maison Cartier and the superb masterpieces of jewellery and objet d’art thehave produced throughout their evolution from 1847 until today, is one that transcends the ages.

The world famous French jewellery house has continued to lead design and style and the way forward by following the fine example set by Louis-Francois, his son and grandsons for that of renowned excellence.

Maison Cartier have maintained in their miniature works of art the characteristics that define contemporary art in every age; confidence in execution, structure, form and style.

Cartier Boutique, Sydney Australia

Today it has become impossible for us to make a distinction between the trends and styles that will last, and the passing fancies of each fashionable season.

What we do know is that Maison Cartier is, and will always remain like diamonds both timeless and forever, at least as far as our eyes can see.

‘Les Must de Cartier – Cartier, it’s a must!

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2012-2014

Cartier Website:

Watch L’Odyssée de Cartier

MILAN, ITALY – OCTOBER 04: A model displays Cartier jewelry during the Cartier boutique reopening event at La Societa del Giardino on October 4, 2012 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Cartier) Cartier Flagship Store Re Opening

Acknowledgments: Vincent Vuillaume, Sales and Marketing Manager, Benjamin Faure Products and Communications Manager and the team at Maison Cartier at Sydney for their valued assistance and for kindly arranging permission for me to use their images.

Books Referenced: Cartier by Hans Nadelhoffer Pub: Thames and Hudson | Cartier and America by Martin Chapman Pub: Delmonico Books | Prestel | Select publications by Maison Cartier: Jewellery Collection 2011, Watchmaking Collection 2012 | The Triumph of Love by Geoffrey C Munn, Thames and Hudson | Rings by Rachel Church, V & A Publishing, The Queen’s Diamonds, Hugh Roberts, Published by The Royal Collection 2012

Phrase: ‘the poetry of existence’ …“if the cloud breaks at a quarter to two tomorrow and we look up into the heavens and take photos of the eclipse we will be scientists at our work and we’ll be looking at the poetry of existence, and if Einstein’s right the universe will never look the same again”…#Attributed to British astrophysicist Arthur Eddington (1882 – 1944)

Spellcheck: In England, and most of its former English speaking colonies jewellery has a different spelling to many other countries, where it becomes ‘jewelry’.



  • Elizabeth Hastings says:

    Do not miss an opportunity to hear Carolyn McDowall speak. She combines an encyclopaedic knowledge of her subject with a charismatic passion that brings history to life. Recently, at Maison Cartier in Sydney, she entertained a rapt audience with the tale of ‘Love Jewellery from Cupid to Cartier’: a captivating odyssey of love, power, wealth and intrigue surrounding many of the world’s finest jewels, from the ancient gold of the Etruscans to the contemporary accomplishments of the venerable House of Cartier. Glittering baubles and champagne bubbles made it a memorable evening. Thank you Carolyn.

  • How very kind Elizabeth, thank you.

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