Posted on May 18 2020
Cartier is a high end luxury brand and is coveted worldwide. Their instantly recognizable and iconic designs can often be seen being sported by incredibly fashionable and influential celebrities and it is not hard to see why! Their designs are crisp and clean, and they have been a well-established brand since the mid 1800’s! Let’s take a look at what helped make this revolutionary company what it is today.
A Brief History
Cartier was founded in Paris by Louis-François Cartier in 1847 when he took over the workshop of his master. The company was later taken over by his son Alfred, but it was Alfred’s sons Louis, Pierre and Jacques who established the brand name worldwide. The Paris branch was managed by Louis, the London branch was managed by Jacques and the New York branch was managed by Pierre until their deaths. These branches remained separate until the company was purchased once again and by 1976 it was transformed into the mega corporation it is today!
In 1901, Cartier was commissioned by Queen Alexandra to create an Indian inspired jewelry piece that could match a gift she was given by Mary Curzon, the wife of the Viceroy of India. This inspired an entire collection of jewelry, made up of necklaces, bracelets and earrings made with gemstones cut to resemble leaves, blossoms, and berries. This collection would later be referred to as the Tutti Frutti Collection in the 1970's.
In 1917, Louis Cartier invented the Cartier Tank Watch, which is the brands most iconic model. The design took inspiration from the FT-17, a French tank used during the first World War. It has been worn by the likes of Princess Diana, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and more recently, actresses like Jennifer Anniston and Angelina Jolie.
In 1924, the Trinity ring was designed at the request of French artist and writer Jean Cocteau. The three different bands were crafted out of three different colors of gold, and each had its own meaning. The rose gold band was to symbolize love, the yellow band is for fidelity, and the white is for friendship. A favorite of couples around the world, this design is still well loved to this day.
In 1933, Jeanne Toussaint took over as the director of the design house’s jewellery department, moving their style away from the art deco inspired pieces they were known for at the time and creating a collection focusing on more of a realism like style. One of her main inspirations came from wildlife, which is where the iconic panther designs Cartier is known for came from. One of her most infamous designs was a piece commissioned by famous Mexican film actress Maria Felix. The necklace depicted two alligators intertwined and was encrusted with diamonds and precious gems. This necklace was most recently seen again at Cannes Film Festival in 2006 being worn by actress Monica Bellucci.
In 1956, Prince Rainer III of Monaco proposed to actress Grace Kelly with a ruby and emerald engagement ring. However, Grace decided to upgrade the ring to a gorgeous custom piece designed by Cartier. The ring featured a stunning 10.47ct emerald cut diamond, flanked by two baguette diamonds on either side. After their engagement Grace never wanted to remove the ring, and who could blame her! She even went as far as insisting that it be worn by her character in the film High Society. High Society was Kelly’s last film appearance and it features a very memorable scene of her polishing the stunning diamond ring with the corner of a bed sheet!
In 1969, designer Aldo Cipullo joined Cartier and went on to design what would become one of the design house’s most iconic pieces: The Love bracelet. The bracelet was said to be designed with the idea that symbols of love should be everlasting, and as such was made so it could only be taken off with a screwdriver! This piece of jewelry became a favorite among the stars, with celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Nancy and Frank Sinatra, and Sophia Loren all owning one! This design is still highly coveted today and is one of the most recognizable Cartier designs in existence.
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