By Elsa Navarrete
Cartier is regarded as one of the most prestigious jewellery manufacturers in the world. Cartier also has a long history of sales to royalty. King Edward VII of Great Britain referred to Cartier as "the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers." For his coronation in 1902, Edward VII ordered 27 tiaras and issued a royal warrant to Cartier in 1904. Similar warrants soon followed from the courts of Spain, Portugal, Russia and the House of Orléans.
It all started when Louis-François Cartier (1819-1904) took over the workshop of his master Adolphe Picard, at 29 rue Montorgueil in Paris, which led to
the foundation of the Maison Cartier.
Circa 1865 Princess Mathilde, cousin of Emperor Napoleon III, buys a Cartier creation for the first time, thus launching the Maison into Parisian high society and among the international elite of the time.
Louis Cartier, grandson of the founder, establishes the Cartier boutique in 13 rue de la Paix, in Paris. At the same time, Cartier introduces a new style, later called the "Garland style", which combines neoclassical inspiration with the
pioneering use of platinum.
Pierre Cartier (1878-1964), one of Louis’ brothers, opens a Cartier boutique in London at 4 New Burlington Street. The opening of this new branch coincided with the coronation of King Edward VII.
Louis Cartier creates the first watch specially designed to be worn on the
wrist for his friend, Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. During
this time, Pierre sets off to travel across Russia.
Pierre Cartier travels across the Atlantic and opens a Cartier boutique in
New York at 712 Fifth Avenue, which moves in 1919 to 653 Fifth
Avenue. Jacques, the youngest of the three brothers, takes over the
Cartier branch in London which had just relocated to 175/6 New Bond
The classic panther motif appears for the first time on a wristwatch, in
diamond and onyx in 1914.
Just 10 years later in 1924, the creation of the three-band ring, later called Trinity was created. Jean Cocteau was one of the first men to wear it. Let me repeat that, Jean Cocteau was one of the first men to wear it.
Of course it was in the roaring 20's that the creation of the first bracelet with
engraved sapphires, emeralds and rubies cut into plant-like shapes appeared.
This style will later take the name of “Tutti Frutti”.
Jeanne Toussaint, who had been with the Maison in 1920, takes over from Louis Cartier as creative director for Cartier. She will hold this position until 1970. Known as "The Panther", this woman will leave her distinctive mark on
jewellery, with a show stopping palette, her use of gold as a colour, and having added volume, movement and suppleness.
It was just a natural progression to evolve into les Must de Cartier, purses, wallets. briefcases and golf bags all designed under the Cartier logo were the rage.
Each year, Cartier presents a new collection of fine jewellery, based around a unique theme and revealing exceptional stones sublimated by the Maison’s
creativity and expertise.
Cartier pushes itself every collection, and by now has a long list of basic aspirational pieces like the LOVE bangle or a tank watch all the way to unique collector items available only to their VIP clientele.
A history of Cartier in 10 objects
1. The Red Box - 1848
2. The Santos Watch - 1904
3. The Tank watch - 1917
4. Tutti Frutti jewellery - 1920's
5. Trinity ring - 1924
6. Panther brooch - 1947
7. María Félix snake necklace - (Mexican diva and movie star) - 1966
8. The Taylor-Burton Diamond Necklace - 1979
9. Must de Cartier - 1981
10. Clash de Cartier - 2019
How the Famous Santos watch came about:
In 1904, the Brazilian pioneer aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont complained to his friend Louis Cartier of the unreliability and impracticality of using pocket watches while flying. Cartier designed a flat wristwatch with a distinctive square bezel. This watch was favoured not only by Santos-Dumont himself but also by many other customers. The "Santos" watch was Cartier's first men's wristwatch. In 1907, Cartier signed a contract with Edmond Jaeger, who agreed to exclusively supply the movements for Cartier watches.