09 December 2014

a CARTIER Christmas

The legendary elegance of CARTIER is explored in a new book- Cartier In the 20th Century.  Highlighting the heyday of heiresses, royals, Hollywood royalty, and exotic destinations-not to mention extreme wealth, this luxurious book opens up Cartier's vaults revealing its clients, their jewels, Cartier's exquisite renderings, and the signature timepieces of Cartier.

The book's stylish slipcase is actually an adaptation of a VOGUE cover, c.1942, photographed by Horst. The model is wearing a diamond and gold bracelet watch and a sapphire, ruby and diamond ring. The book itself echo's Cartier's red signature gift box-so it's really quite possible to "give Cartier" for Christmas.

Scores of jewels, mystery clocks, cigarette cases are photographed alongside the personalities these pieces were created for-and worn by. Beautifully arranged, the book offers a unique perspective on Cartier and 20th century culture. Highlighting the Art Deco era, a fascination with foreign exotica, "the Art of Smoking,"  "The Masculine View," glamour, and style icons, Cartier in the 20th Century's focus on the extraordinary jewels the house created for its clients through the years is the most intriguing.

Jeanne Toussaint of Cartier can be credited for much of Cartier's intrigue and allure. Her personal style, she was known as La Panthere, captured the era, and her designs featuring the panther became synonymous with Cartier. Too, the Cartier panther is long associated with the Duchess of Windsor.

Switching in up, Cartier created this Tiger Lorgnette for the Duchess in 1954. Imagine Wallis peering out into a salon with her lorgnette, swathed in Mainbocher perhaps, and wearing jewels by Cartier no doubt. The lorgnette folded cleverly alongside the tiger's body, a brocade pouch is inscribed: "Please return to HRH The Duchess of Windsor/ Reward." Apparently HRH felt even the rich and famous would need an incentive to return this treasure.

Tiger Lorgnette, Cartier Collection, photograph by Nick Welsh

Necklace, Cartier Collection. photograph by Nick Welsh

Lady Granard commissioned this 143.23 carat emerald necklace from Cartier in 1932, just two years after the Depression began. The "cushion shaped emerald was surrounded by platinum, gold old-and rose-cut diamonds-" with Lady Granard, a Cartier regular, furnishing all the stones.

Another necklace Cartier, made for Sir Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala, in 1928, featured "platinum, old-and rose-cut diamonds (including the chain and links), yellow and white zirconias, white topazes, synthetic rubies, smoky quartz, and citrine." Singh was a frequent Cartier patron and his magnificent Cartier jewels (and another Maharaja's) were photographed for Cartier advertisements.

Necklace, Cartier Collection, photograph by Nick Welsh

Necklace, Cartier Collection, photograph by Nick Welsh

International film star Marie Felix commissioned this unforgettable crocodile necklace from Cartier in 1975. A work of art, the two crocodiles were completely "articulated and flexible, made of 1,023 brilliant -cut fancy intense yellow diamonds and 1,060 emeralds."  Felix would be photographed in the necklace many times during the decade.

Actress & beauty, the late Elizabeth Taylor, a name synonymous with jewelry (a book is dedicated to the jewels she owned), was another iconic Cartier client. A stunning necklace owned by Taylor, created by Cartier in 1951-and altered in 1953, contains "eight perfect cushion-shaped & oval faceted Burmese rubies." With a "tiara fitting," the necklace could also be worn to adorn Taylor's Alexandre coiffed tresses.

Necklace, Cartier Collection, photograph by Marian Gerard

The list of clients that flocked to Cartier during the 20th century is endless. So many famous, and equally as many not so much-but with limitless funds, knew Cartier would give them exactly what they wanted-a work of art - and an "original." Cartier In the 20th Century provides today's aesthete with a perfect record of the era as seen through the meticulous cutting & setting of each stone in Cartier's quest for brilliance & ultimately, enduring Beauty.

NOTE: many of the descriptions of the jewels in this story are noted with quotation marks and are taken from descriptions in the book.


  1. Gaye, this is one of my favorite books of the season and yes, is a fabulous gift idea. I also loved the stories behind these fabulous custom jewels and the famous Cartier clientele!

    The Arts by Karena

  2. This book is part of "Cartier in the 20th Century" exhibit currently at the Denver Art Museum. I saw the exhibit two weeks ago and it is stunning.

    1. Deidre yes! thank you for reminding me of this. I know you were quite overwhelmed. pgt



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