Cartier, a jewellery to love

Cartier is one of the most luxurious watches and jewellery brands in the world. 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. Read more about the Cartier's absolute classics.

Fine Jewellery

Cartier shop window display

History of Cartier

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 the commitment and the ability to listen to their needs, producing and delivering the products of 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 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 to jewellers being able to cut hardstones. 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.

Cartier necklace, shop window display

Cartier necklace od a display

To expand in the west was Alfred’s wisest choice that soon paid off greatly, making Cartier one of most popular and beloved jewellery brand among the richest. Their clientele included the Rockeffelers, 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 also issued a royal warrant which made the jeweller a royal supplier. Soon after, Cartier also started working with courts of Spain, Portugal, Serbia, Russia and the French House of Orléans.

The company remained in the family 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 Signh in 1928. Today Cartier diamond ring is one of the most popular as engagemant ring and iconic Cartier Love bracelet or Panthére jewellery line are among the most recognisable jewellery designs of all time.

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Cartier Patiala necklace

Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala wearing the famous ʽPatiala Necklaceʼ1930s

Last years Cartier went up on the Forbes list of Most Valuable Brans List from 59th to to 56th place and is steadily on the rise in the value. Last year a growth of 14% was noted comparing to the previous one, and the brand value was $12.2 B with a revenue of $6.2 B

Cartier watches

Cartier Santos or Santos-Dumont is considered to be the first wristwatch, first pilot watch and the first sports watch ever created. And as it turned out it was the result of a friendship of 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 how impractical and unreliable pocket watches are while flying. Louis, feeling his friends frustration, designed a watch with a flat and square dial with bezels, attached to a leather strap worn on a wrist. This easily accessible accessory was like a revelation not only to Santos- Dumont but 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 became modernised, the original design by Louis is still readable.

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Cartier Santos watch, silver watch

Cartier Santos watch, modern version. Image: ValueMyStuff

"Cartier Santos or Santos-Dumont is considered to be the first wristwatch, first pilot watch and the first sports watch ever created"

Cartier Tank watch was also designed by Louis Cartier, in 1917. It was a designed inspired by the tanks, newly introduced weapon on the Western Front in WWI. The vertical bars, the brancards were representation of tanks 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.

Check The Latest Cartier Auctions At Barnebys Here!

Cartier Tank Watch, wristwatch with leather band

Cartier Tank Watch. Image: Loius Mornaud via Unsplash

"La Panthére” was a nickname of Louis Cartier’s lover, Jean Toussaint. She was elegant and had a very refined taste- her apartment was decorated with leopard skins"

Cartier Panthére

Cartier’s iconic Panthére motif has officially been a part of brands visual identity since the late 1940's, but 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 a 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 artistic director of high jewellery and the panthére motif was something she often incorporated into her designs. Based on Art Deco colour palette, Panthére rings, bracelets and necklacesr often feature black onyx, green precious stones, diamonds, yellow or white gold, and also enamels in black and green. Toussaint was able to add movement to the Panthére pieces, making them 3-dimentional, dynamic.

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Cartier ring, panthére, panther motif detail

Cartier Panthére diamond ring, modern (detail)

Cartier bracelet, panther motif, diamonds

Cartier Panthére diamond bracelet, modern

“I wanted something no one could take away from me. I was searching for a permanent symbol of love”

Cartier Love

Cartier Love bracelet was designed by Aldo Cipullo, Cartier’s legendary designer who is also a creator of a famous Juste en Clou nail bracelet. Both designs were presented in 1972, but it was Love line that became a worldwide popular, everyday classic. Love bracelet was also created as a result of a love story. Cipullo revealed that the design was inspired by his experience of a romantic breakup 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 younger. The set of screws to be adjust with a mini screwdriver are a real representation of a romantic need to hold onto the memories of lost love. Today the line also featurs an iconic Cartier Love ring.

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Cartier Love bracelet, Aldo Cipullo

Gary Bernstein's photograph of Aldo Cipullo's Love Bracelet at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

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