Cartier’s Royal Affair


The art of cartier is exemplified in its treatment of the greatest of gems—a skill that emphasizes the effervescence of diamonds like the Hope and the Jubilee. Cartier Royal: High Jewelry and Precious Objects by François Chaille (Flammarion) chronicles the history of the house through a narrative of its patrons, ranging from the royalty of the 19th century to the artistocracy of the 20th and 21st centuries (e.g. Mona Bismarck and Grace Vanderbilt, who were followed by Barbara Hutton and Elizabeth Taylor).

François Chaille, through the gem that is Cartier Royal: High Jewelry and Precious Objects, invites readers into the spectacle of Cartier: “Feast your eyes on sublime gems handled in a spirit almost of veneration. Let your mind travel to magic realms created by designers inspired by the lavish landscapes in which these stones were mined. Admire the meticulous craft of carvers and mosaicists able to reach the soul of these minerals, fashioning them into artworks. Let yourself be enchanted by the rhythm, resonance, and harmony magically cast by these designs.”

Established in 1847, Cartier has long led the industry in both design and innovation. For example, the house was revolutionary with its use of platinum when Louis Cartier discovered that it encouraged a range of settings and offered a luminosity that complemented gems. Because of its reputation, Cartier boasts having handled somed of the most “perfect” gems with history, including De Beers diamonds as well as the Hope and the Polar Star.

Included in Cartier Royal: High Jewelry and Precious Objects is a catalog of the collection that the brand showed at the 27th Biennale des Antiquaires in September 2014—a selection of one hundred creations that exemplify the transcendence of Cartier: There’s the PUR ABSOLU necklace, which features a 30.21-carat diamond with a grade of type IIa (a standard reserved for one percent of diamonds, including the Cullinan and the Koh-i-noor). And there’s the BLUE-BLUET ring, which features at 29.06-carat sapphire that was mined at an altitutde of 12,000 feet in India. And then there’s the “royal” pearl, which is documented in pictures on the neck of Queen Mary of England, grandmother to Queen Elizabeth II.

Cartier proves to be as accomplished and skilled as it is admired and iconic. To browse Cartier Royal: High Jewelry and Precious Objects is to understand the awe and regalness that the house is known to inspire.