Cartier is one of the world's most luxurious watches and jewellery brands. Behind every piece made by Cartier lies a personal story of love, commitment and friendship dressed in a unique design inspired by the style of the long-gone eras, even in their modern 21st-century editions.
Cartier was founded in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier, a talented and passionate Parisian watchmaker who took over the workshop after his master, Adolphe Picard. Louis Cartier was praised by his clients for his commitment and the ability to listen to their needs, producing and delivering products of the highest quality tailored to their liking. After all, he was marketing as a specialist in "imaginative jewellery, fashion and novelty items". In 1872 Louis's son Alfred joined the business, and two years later, he was running the shop. By then, the Cartier shop became a family business, and Alfred's three sons (Louis, Pierre and Jaques) were all trained jewellers.
While Cartier was very successful in France, for decades now selling jewels and watches to French aristocrats, Alfred was thinking of international expansion and sent his sons on a mission. Pierre was sent to Russia to study the success of Fabergé and to search for business opportunities, including seeking out jewellers being able to cut hard stones. He was then sent to New York and opened a store on Fifth Avenue in 1909. Jaques went to London, where he also opened Cartier's first shop on New Burlington Street in 1902. Louis, Alfred's eldest son, chose to stay in Paris and engaged in the affairs on the already known territory.
To expand in the west was Alfred's wisest choice that soon paid off immensely, making Cartier one of the most popular and beloved jewellery brands among the richest. Their clientele included the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, the Fords and the Morgans. Cartier was a favourite brand of King Edward VII of Great Britain, who he named "the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers". No wonder that for his coronation in 1904, he ordered 27 Cartier-made tiaras and issued a royal warrant, making the jeweller a royal supplier. Soon after, Cartier also started working with the courts of Spain, Portugal, Serbia, Russia and the French House of Orléans.
The company remained in the family's hands until 1964. Right now, it is wholly owned by the Swiss Richemont Group. There are over 200 Cartier stores in 125 countries, with the three historical Maisons, the stores opened by three brothers in London, New York and Paris, still operating. Cartier jewellers took part in creating the jewels of historical importance and are behind the making of the most expensive pieces ever sold, such as Barbara Hutton's jade necklace, sold for over $27,5 million in 2014 or the priceless fairytale Patiala-necklace made for Maharaja Bhupinder Singh in 1928. Today Cartier diamond ring is one of the most popular engagement rings. The iconic Cartier Love bracelet or Panthére jewellery line is among the most recognisable jewellery designs of all time.
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Last year, Cartier went up on the Forbes list of Most Valuable Brands List from 59th to 56th place and steadily rose in value. Last year a growth of 14% was noted compared to the previous one, and the brand value was $12.2 B with a revenue of $6.2 B.
Cartier Santos or Santos-Dumont is considered the first wristwatch, the first pilot watch, and the first sports watch ever created. And as it turned out, it resulted from a friendship between Louis Cartier and a Brazilian pioneer aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. In 1904, after one of his aviation shows, Alberto simply complained to his friend Louis about how impractical and unreliable pocket watches are while flying. Feeling his friend's frustration, Louis designed a watch with a flat square dial and bezels attached to a leather strap worn on a wrist. This easily accessible accessory was like a revelation to Santos- Dumont and many other customers. It was the first and only time the brand named their product by the original wearer. Well over 100 years onwards, Santos still is popular and loved by many, and even though its design has become modernised, the original design by Louis is still readable.
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"Cartier Santos or Santos-Dumont is considered the first wristwatch, the first pilot watch, and the first sports watch ever created."
The Cartier Tank watch was also designed by Louis Cartier in 1917. It was designed inspired by the tanks, a newly introduced weapon on the Western Front in WWI. The vertical bars and the brancards represented tank treads, and the case evoked the cockpit. This design differed from usually round-shaped wristwatches. One of the first models produced was gifted by Louis to General John Pershing, a commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe, to express his gratitude.
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"La Panthére" was the nickname of Louis Cartier's lover, Jean Toussaint. She was elegant and had a very refined taste.
Cartier's iconic Panthére motif has officially been a part of the brand's visual identity since the late 1940s. Still, as with most of Cartier's original and original designs, also this one has an interesting story behind it that precedes the jewellery line by 20 years. "La Panthére" was the nickname of Louis Cartier's lover, Jean Toussaint. She was elegant and had a very refined taste- her apartment was decorated with leopard skins. Toussaint was an integral part of Cartier, first as an accessory designer, later she became the artistic director of high jewellery, and the panthére motif was something she often incorporated into her designs. Based on an Art Deco colour palette, Panthére rings, bracelets, and necklaces often feature black onyx, precious green stones, diamonds, yellow or white gold, and enamels in black and green. Toussaint was able to add movement to the Panthére pieces, making them 3-dimensional and dynamic.
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"I wanted something no one could take away from me. I was searching for a permanent symbol of love"
Aldo Cipullo designed the Cartier Love bracelet, Cartier's legendary designer, who is also a creator of the famous Juste en Clou nail bracelet. Both designs were presented in 1972, but the Love line became a worldwide popular, everyday classic. Love bracelet was also created as a result of a love story. Cipullo revealed that his experience of a romantic breakup inspired the design in 1969. In his words, he expressed: "I wanted something no one could take away from me. I was searching for a permanent symbol of love". The design was also inspired by hardware stores he often visited with his brother when he was younger. The set of screws to be adjusted with a mini screwdriver represents a romantic need to hold onto the memories of lost love. Today the line also features an iconic Cartier Love ring.
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