The original House of Cartier
The House of Cartier was born in Paris as a family business in 1847. Louis- François Cartier -the father of four sons – Louis, Pierre, Jacques and Alfred- took over a Parisian watch shop at 29 rue de Montorgueil and soon the business became renowned in the French capital as one of the most prestigious jewellers and watch makers.
Cartier’s son Alfred took over the business in 1847 which kick started a slow but steady global expansion. His other son Louis was in charge of the Parisian arm of the business, and in 1902 Cartier’s son Jacques took the business to London. The success of the London branch earnt Cartier the Royal Warrant and the business became the sole jeweller to King Edwrad VII and his court, securing the name as the finest jeweller in the country. The King is said to have called Cartier “the jeweller of King’s and the King of jewellers.” Known for his flamboyancy, King Edward VII celebrated his coronation in 1902 with 27 bespoke made Cartier tiaras.
The courts of Spain, Portugal, the House of Orleans and Russia were among many that also favoured Cartier as their go-to jeweller. In 1917 Pierre travelled to New York and secured the company’s Fifth Avenue flagship store which remains the flagship today. Pierre got the famous 653 Fifth Avenue site in a famous property deal which saw him exchange two strands of fine pearls for the address in New York’s luxury shopping Mecca.
The conglomerate now operates in more than 200 stores globally in 125 countries including three flagships in London, Paris and New York. Media giant Forbes ranked Cartier as the world’s 59th most valuable brand in 2018 and in 2014 the company celebrated its centenary. The company still maintains its headquarters in Paris and remained a family business until 1964. It is now a wholly owned subsidiary of luxury goods holding company Swiss Richemont Group.
After more than 100 years at the forefront of the global luxury jewellery industry Cartier’s signature designs and vintage pieces are iconic classics and highly collectable.
The famous Cartier ‘Trinity ring’ first appeared in 1924 as part of the wider Art Deco movement and was designed by Louis Carter’s friend Jean Cocteau. The design is based on three interlocking 18 carat gold rings, each of a different colour – usually yellow gold, white gold and rose gold. It symbolises friendship, love and commitment and is a favourite among jewellery collectors. The three bands slide smoothly over the skin, making it both a classic in design and technicality.
The classic design has since been re-imagined, and there are various Trinity collectables and limited editions of the design that remain very popular today
In 1911 Jacques Cartier visited India for the first time and collected rubies, sapphires and emeralds from across the country in Delhi, Calcutta and Bombay. Once back at the workshop in Paris, these precious stones were used for designs in multi-gem jewels that came to be known as the ‘Tutti-Frutti’ style.
The most famous piece of the Tutti-Frutti collection was the ‘Hindu necklace’ which was commissioned by heiress and Cartier lover Daisy Fellowes.
Love and Juste un Clou
Designer Aldo Cipullo joined Cartier’s New York branch in 1969 and created one of the company’s most famous and sought-after designs – the ‘Love’ and ‘Juste un Clou’ collections.
The ‘Love’ bracelet is an 18-carat gold band in two sections that must be screwed onto the wrist and is meant to be worn forever as a token of love and attachment. The bracelet even comes with a special Cartier screwdriver.
Cartier made his-and-her love bracelets for many famous couples including Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor and Ali McGraw and Steve McQueen.
Cartier also makes ‘Love’ rings, which are usually the same design as the bracelet but with the addition of either diamonds or in white gold.
The ‘Juste un Clou’ collection was first released in 1970 and became an instant hit. The original bracelet is carved from 18-carat yellow gold and has a smooth circular design, juxtaposed with a silhouette that mimics a nail. It came out at a time when the piece, though apparently minimalist, was meant to push the boundaries of the avant-garde.
Over the years Cartier’s clientele has included Royalty, business tycoons and film stars. Some of the luxury designer’s most famous fans includes King Farouk of Egypt, The Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly and Clark Gable.
Kylie Jenner, the youngest of the headline-hitting Kardashian family, has recently emerged as a Cartier fanatic on social media. Kylie, who has more than 160 million followers on Instagram, often posts images demonstrating her love of Cartier. She is a particular fan of the ‘Love’ design, and has posted images of her wearing four ‘Love’ bracelets at once along with a stack of ‘Love’ rings, showcasing a proud collection that when worn together amounts to more than £30,000.
Kylie’s social media shares to her multi-million followers prompted the Cartier ‘Love’ bracelet to be the most googled item of jewellery in 2016. According to jewellery company Karus Chains the Cartier bracelet was searched for on average 353,840 times a month.
Kate Middleton, The Duchess of Cambridge, is also a renowned Cartier fan. Known for her elegant and classic style, she is often photographed wearing Cartier, including the Ballon Blue. She also wore a bespoke Cartier tiara for her wedding to Prince William in 2011.