Now that we’ve covered the main jewelry eras and precious gemstones, it’s time for us to dive into famous, world-recognized jewelry designers. Signed jewelry has always been desirable due to its credibility, top quality materials, and exquisite craftsmanship. The industry's famous jewelry names include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co, Bvlgari, David Webb, Boucheron, Graff, Buccellati, and many others. This week we will be discussing the “Jeweler of Kings and King of Jewelers” - Cartier.
In this blog post you will learn:
- Cartier History
- Interesting Facts
- Vintage Cartier Jewelry
- Modern Cartier Jewelry
The story began in Paris, 1847 when Cartier was founded by the jeweler Louis-François Cartier, who handed over the business to his three sons in 1899. By joining their efforts and upholding their father’s values, the three brothers established an international presence for Cartier and became favorite jewelers among the royal families of Europe.
Cartier’s royal client list included Princess Mathilde, the niece of Napoleon I. Empress Eugenie, Napoleon III’s wife. Later, Cartier was appointed the official purveyor to King Edward VII, King Carlos I of Portugal, King Chulalongkorn of Siam, King Peter of Serbia, King Fouad I of Egypt, and King Zog I of Albania. King Edward VII of England dubbed Louis Cartier the “Jeweler of Kings and King of Jewelers”.
The Cartier family retained ownership until 1964. Now, the famous jewelry house is a part of the Richemont Group.
1. Louis Cartier was the first jewelry designer to popularize the wristwatch for men.
During that time, only women wore gentle wristwatches. It was unacceptable for men. The society’s elite considered the pocket watch to be the gentleman's ultimate timepiece. However, Louis Cartier was close friends with famous Brazilian aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont, who constantly brought up the difficulty of using the pocket watch to measure flight times. In 1904, Cartier debuted his first men’s wristwatch, the appropriately named “Santos” watch. This novelty became a sensation, and quickly gained acceptance and popularity among the gentlemen due to its practicality and design.
2. Alfred Cartier became the first jeweler who successfully used platinum in jewelry-making.
Platinum has always been an extremely expensive material, especially in the 19th century. It was mostly used by the royal families, as dining utensils or watch-chains. Platinum has a high melting point, thus making it a difficult material to work with. The world of jewelry was impressed when Alfred Cartier incorporated platinum into his “Garland Style” jewelry to highlight the brilliance of diamonds.
Tiara of Elisabeth of Bavaria, Queen of Belgium. Cartier Paris, 1910. Platinum, cushion (antique) cut diamond, old round diamonds of old cut, millegrain setting.
3. Pierre Cartier traded a pearl necklace to buy the Cartier New York flagship store.
In 1914, Pier got very lucky when his double-strand pearl necklace caught the eye of millionaire Morton Plant’s fiance. Plant and his love were ready to move out of their building on the corner of 5th Avenue and 52nd Street because the neighborhood suddenly became very commercial. While Cartier was eager to open their first flagship store in Manhattan and dive into the Upper Eastside social scene. Plant and Cartier agreed on a trade: Plant’s 6-story building plus $100 in exchange for the Cartier Pearl necklace.
4. The Iconic “Love Bracelet” design was inspired by medieval chastity belts.
During medieval times, chastity belts were used to prevent wearers from having sex. They were typically worn by women during the Crusades to preserve their faithfulness and honor, while their husbands were fighting.
The idea behind the iconic love bracelets was the symbol of faithfulness and devotion. The Cartier Love Bracelet features a solid gold cuff with screws and a lock mechanism. The bracelet comes with a gold screwdriver which is meant to be kept by your lover, so only they could open it.
Fun fact, New York City hospitals keep Love screws in their wards, so they could remove the bracelet from patients in case of emergency.
The Cartier’s Sunrise Ruby is a 25.6-carat Burmese ruby, which was sold at Sotheby's auction. Not only is it the most expensive Cartier item ever sold, but it’s also the most expensive ruby, the most expensive colored gemstone, and the most expensive non-diamond gemstone in the world.
Vintage Cartier Jewelry
At Jack Weir & Sons, we’ve been curating rare and coveted jewelry for over 40 years. Cartier has always been one of our favorite designers. We regularly update our vintage jewelry collection with rare Cartier pieces. Here are some of our favorites (click on the image to learn more) :
Modern Cartier Jewelry
Nowadays Cartier constantly updates their rich history with new, exquisite creations. With the rise of the internet and technological development, unfortunately, plagiarism and fraud became more possible and harder to detect. We advise you to be careful when buying popular signed jewelry. Check the signature, the serial number, the paperwork if applicable, and only buy from credible sources like Cartier or reputable estate jewelry companies, like Jack Weir & Sons.
The Bottom Line
Cartier became one of the most famous jewelry houses in the world due to its top-quality creations and rich history. What once was a family business, is now an over 170-year-old international business with strong credibility and over 200 stores worldwide. We are happy to carry rare, vintage Cartier jewelry pieces in our collection and help you find the jewel of your dreams!