Cartier´s art. The Story of a legend

Louis François Cartier founded the first jewelery workshop in 1847, everyone knows the famous french Maison, but only a few know its history, starring a saga of goldsmiths that revolutionized the jewelry of the Twentieth Century.

After his Master´s death, Cartier inherited the business of Rue Montorgueil, giving it his name and beginning the history of the house.

Alfred Cartier and his three sons. San Juan de Luz. 1922.
® Cartier Archives

During the following years, the brand gained great adherents among the upper classes of society creating jewels of historical taste and recreating “the garland style” equivalent in decorative arts to Marie Antoinette.

The expert hands of the Cartier family designed all kinds of jewels covered in diamonds from the distant mines of South Africa, showing great craftsmanship, investigating and experimenting with creations that would later revolutionize the world of high jewelry and its language. 

Louis Cartier captained the break with conventionalism and led the Maison to the highest creative levels of its history, inspired by Art Decó inspired by Art Deco that had its heyday in the 20s. He created a new language for Jewelry that would break forever with the most conservative currents, building the strong identity of the brand from his new flagstore at number 13 on the Rue de la Paix in Paris, where he became a legend of world jewelry.

The Parisian Cartier boutique

The Cartier Maison and its creators, architects of the firm’s splendor, were characterized by their inquisitive mood, their fascination with research and innovation, which created for the first time the association of platinum with diamond.  

Platinum was an extraordinary metal, almost untapped at the time, made of very hard alloy as well as malleable, which allowed the master jewelers to create invisible frames that enhanced the brilliance of diamonds and seemed to float on the skin.

During those years and in his search for trends and inspiration, Cartier begins to be inspired by nature, animals and flowers that will gradually be introduced into designs to become key motifs of the French Maison.

Cartier achieved fame in the early Twentieth century, receiving several royal patents and becoming one of the most prestigious jewelry brands in the world demanded by royalty and the international jet set. The King of England Edward VII mentioned Cartier in the famous phrase “Cartier, the jeweler of the Kings, the King of the Jewelers”

Emblematic watches with new mechanisms such as the Tank watch, inspired by the tanks that liberated the city of Paris at the end of World War I, were fused with exquisite pieces like the famous panther brooch created by the director of Cartier´s Department of High Jewelery, Jeanne Toussaint for the Duchess of Windsor , which turned the panther into icon of Cartier with its Panthère line.

In 1948 Louis Cartier died, but the spirit of the brand remained intact in each of his pieces, which breathe the Cartier style.

“Cartier is part of those companies whose existence proves that not everything in the contemporary world is machinism and mass consumption, that there is still a space for another way of conceiving relationship between men and objects.”
 Alfonso Alfaro, The art of Cartier.

The Ladies of Cartier

Cartier has been synonymous with luxury and sophistication since its inception, all its pieces have been a reason for admiration and status symbol. The firm has turned its jewelery into works of art collected by some of the most famous and powerful women in the world.

Evalyn Walsh Mclean wears the famous blue diamond Hope, Cartier 1910.