More than 160 years after its inception, Cartier rules the luxury goods world with an unbelievable array of the most fabulous pieces. A brand that needs no introduction, truly the ‘King of Jewellers’!
When one thinks of luxurious jewellery they think of Cartier. You could say, luxury is synonymous with Cartier. The breathtaking jewellery, the beautiful panther motif, the magnificent watches, the oh-so-lovely perfumes and the alluring accessories like eyewear by Cartier have taken the world by storm. While the world continues to love the brand, the start of the brand is nothing short of a fabulous tale of glamour and talent.
Today known for its original, timeless and elegant creations Cartier has always captivated the world with its designs but it was in 1983 when the world saw the first-ever eyewear with the Lunettes Cartier collection. And from there the beautiful and magnificent world of Cartier started. Let’s dive into the brand’s journey from the beginning.
Cartier evokes images of breathtakingly gorgeous jewellery, high-quality precision watches and opulent accessories like eyewear. The foundation of the world-famous company for jewellery was laid way back in 1847 when Louis-François Cartier took over his master’s workshop in Paris and gave it his name.
Irresistible and preferred by all the women of royalty in the 17th and 18th centuries, Cartier received honours in the upper bourgeois society. By the start of the 20th Century, Cartier was renowned for its stunningly intricate designs – often light and lacy – conjuring up garlands, bows, flowers out of platinum and precious stones.
Louis-François Cartier’s son, Alfred Cartier, inherited the workshop in 1874 and from then on, there was no limit to the heights that the brand was destined to achieve. But it was the founder’s trio of grandsons – Pierre, Jacques, and Louis – who led the house into a magnificently stylish new era.
The trio was instrumental in taking the company to the very pinnacle of success – conquering the global jewellery market by taking the Cartier name to New York and London while Louis kept the flag flying high at the Parisian store. If today the name inspires awe, it is because of Louis’s innovative approach to jewellery making, combining the traditional with the contemporary. He was the first one to develop jewellery using platinum and diamonds. After years of research, he made garland style jewellery with fine threads of platinum to bring out the full glory of the diamonds in the pieces – a wondrous achievement.
King Edward VII, crowned in 1902, subsequently honoured the company with the royal warrant of suppliers to the Royal Court of England. Similar warrants soon followed from the courts of Spain, Portugal, Russia, Siam, Greece, Serbia, Belgium, Romania, Egypt, Albania, the House of Orleans and the Principality of Monaco.
Innovator Louis Cartier is also credited with the creation of the wristwatch in 1904 when Brazilian aviator and Louis’s long-time friend Santos-Dumont complained to him about the inconvenience he faced trying to look at his pocket watch when flying. Calling the pocket watches dangerous, impractical and unreliable, he fretted over how to be able to tell the time correctly when he was flying. The problem appealed to Cartier and was soon solved in the form of a flat wristwatch with a distinctive square bezel, from then on known as Santos.
Not one to rest on his laurels, 1912 saw the invention of the Mystery clocks by Louis. These timepieces have fascinated generations of Cartier jewellery aficionados – their hands seem to float in space and are apparently unconnected to the machinery.
In 1914, the panther motif became synonymous with Cartier with its splendid pieces in black onyx and diamonds becoming the rage with royalty and celebrities. The famous Trinity ring saw its conception in 1924 – a singular piece of jewellery with a unique, fun design – three intertwined bands of pink gold, yellow gold and platinum.
Cartier’s lighter literally had the crème de la crème of the world on fire in 1968. 1974 saw Cartier take the leather industry by storm, with its launch of the Must De Cartier leather accessories line which made Bordeaux the new black. But it was in 1887, at the wish of Princesse D’essling, a lady-in-waiting at the french court, when Louis Cartier produced his very first optical instrument. A magnificent tortoise shell lorgnette set with diamonds made Louis Cartier into a veritable Artistic Optician.
In the world of luxury eyewear, the Cartier story began in 1983 with the Lunettes Cartier collection. The Lunettes Cartier collection was launched in 1983 with two models – the Vendome and Must. The Vendome, as worn for instance by ‘bad guy’ Christopher Walken in the 1985 Bond classic A View to Kill, remains the most sought-after glasses. In the film, Walken wore the Vendome Santos sunglasses (the legendary design with three screws).
The Cartier collection of spectacles and sunglasses, luminous and luxurious just like their jewellery and watches, is inspired by Cartier’s rich history. The Precious collection, with pure and elegant lines, pays homage to the jewellery of Cartier, with 18-carat gold frames. Aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, for whom the first watch was created, is also the inspiration for the Cartier Santos De Cartier collection. Another dazzling collection – the Panthere De Cartier collection, once again made the Cartier spotted panther a symbol of triumphant sensuality.
Some Of The Most Iconic Cartier Eyewear
La Panthère de Cartier
The credit for the signature Cartier panther that we see now goes to Jeanne Toussaint, who was made the director of fine jewellery for Cartier in 1918 and worked closely with Louis Cartier, the oldest grandson of Louis-Francois, to bring the panther to life by setting gems to represent the animal’s fur.
Santos de Cartier
The Santos de Cartier Collection, inspired by Alberto Santos-Dumont displayed with precious metals, lightweight structures and edgy accents. Each model carries a distinguishable screw motif, reminiscent of airplane rivet. These frames have a modern feel without losing any of their old world Cartier luxury in the process.
A collection of feminine and refined glasses, which borrows from the Trinity collection its three interlaced rings. Brilliant branches, polished by hand, with golden or palladium finishes, highlighting the know-how of the artisans of the House.