Cartier is well known for creating masterpieces in fine jewelry and timepieces as well as for recognizing the art in precious stones. As a result of the charisma and leadership of Louis-Francois Cartier, wealthy clientele became a mainstay.
Originally founded by Louis-Francois Cartier in Paris in 1847, the brand’s mission perfectly fitted the establishment of the second empire of France. Although this was a difficult financial period in France, Cartier survived and began to thrive in the second half of the 19th century.
By 1856, the Cartier stores were popular. Princess Mathilde, Empress Eugenie and many others in high society wore Cartier jewelry. The financial rewards and prestige built by the brand excelled beyond measure. And Louis-Francois Cartier, took opportunities to expand.
The first Cartier shop located in the center of Paris on the Boulevard des Italiens opened in 1859. Naturally this site was a true hotspot for the rich and wealthy including French royalty, bankers, industrialists and travelers.
From porcelain products to silverware, bronze busts and medallions, Cartier’s products came in wide varieties. There was jewelry and watches for which the brand is known to date, as well as work inspired from various workshops and in partnerships with firms such as Fossin, Delamarre and Lalique that were based near Paris.
Cartier’s jewelry pieces became notable in that period - mainly for their amazing details and the originality in design. They showed the best of the Gothic and Renaissance Revival style jewelry that comprised the fashion at the time.
Moving in 1899 to their current location, in the epicenter of the French luxury trade known as the rue de la Paix, Cartier has remained in the forefront of the industry.
Rue de la Paix became one of the best shopping streets in the world with the very best to offer. Paris, on the other hand, was the center of fashion and luxury and drew clientele from around the world.
In this period, many companies saw major economic growth and affluence. Cartier was also growing at the time and perfectly adapted to the ‘Belle Epoque’ by designing a number of pieces in the Art Nouveau style. The delicate pieces featured flowers, vases and other pre-eminent motifs featured in early 20th century jewels.
Cartier also expanded during this time and opened its branches in London and New York, after which the brand launched in St. Petersburg as well. Inspiration mimicked the bold colors and techniques of famous artists such as Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Cezanne.
Charles Jacqueau, the chief designer at Cartier was responsible for keeping this brand in its position of dominance for decades. Without his amazing work and constant innovations, Cartier would not have reached the upper echelons in the industry.
Even though he joined the firm as a young artist in 1890, Jacqueau took Cartier to new heights and brilliantly inspired the brand to include motifs that originated in Egypt, India, Japan, China and Islam. His inspirations were always eclectic and original.
The Baron de Rothschild Necklace. Platinum, Emerald, Sapphire, Lapis Lazuli and Diamond Pendant-Necklace. Designed by Charles Jacqueau for Cartier, Paris, circa 1924.
Photo Credit: Sothebys
In the past, Cartier met its clients' demands for timepieces by buying important pieces at auction. However, the success after the move to the rue de la Paix broadened Louis Cartier's horizons. He expanded Cartier’s offerings to include table clocks, wristwatches and other fine luxury items.
The brand Cartier is linked to expensive watches and jewelry with vast history. The entire story of jeweled wrist watches began in the 1880s when the Santos and the Tank debuted as iconic wristwatches for women. Over the years, the small watches have been designed by many young talents and sophisticated designers.
Currently owned and operated by Louis Cartier's descendents, Jean-Jacques Cartier in London and Claude Cartier in New York, the company continues to take its jewelry to higher levels.