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Cartier1In 1847, Louis-François Cartier (1819-1904), took over a jewelry workshop at 29, rue Montorgueil in Paris from Adolphe Picard, the man who had taught him his trade.

Louis Cartier owned exceptional 18th-century pieces, like Georges Jacob furniture and chairs from Louis XVI’s game room in Saint- Cloud. In 1853, Cartier moved to 5, rue Neuve des Petits-Champs, and started undertaking work for private clients. The first American client was welcomed as early as 1854.

After a period of unrest, Paris became a lively city once more and there was a constant succession of celebrations and balls. The splendors of the Second Empire encouraged the expansion of the business. Cartier prospered, thanks to the patronage of Princess Mathilde, the Emperor’s first cousin and niece of Napoleon I.

In 1859, Louis-François Cartier moved the business into premises at 9, boulevard des Italiens, in the heart of fashionable Paris, and in the same year Empress Eugénie ordered a silver tea service from him. He also developed a friendship with the internationally renowned couturier Charles Worth, and later married Worth’s granddaughter, Andrée.

Wishing to establish a family tradition, Louis-François Cartier taught the trade to his son, Louis-François-Alfred (1841-1925), made him a partner and handed over management of the business to him in 1874. Alfred, in turn, made his eldest son Louis a partner in 1898. In 1897, however, the Westminster Hotel changed ownership. This was a godsend for Alfred Cartier who was immediately interested in 13 Rue de la Paix with its hotel entrance and the business that occupied the left-hand side. In 1899, the business took up residence in elegant and luxurious premises at the prestigious address of 13, rue de la Paix, where it was to remain for future centuries. At last, Cartier had found a setting worthy of its aspirations. 13 Rue de la Paix - the birth of an address – Cartier.

The neo-classical façade had large open areas, which were very daring for the time – and large windows framed with black metal which allowed passers-by to see the inside of the boutique. The Grande Galerie, with its coffered ceilings, its allegorical paintings, its wall decorations and its indirect lighting was the boutique’s main room and once greeted, clients were accompanied into the ‘jewelery salons’ depending on their desires: the white, green or English salon, or the Salon des Perles which specialised in pearls which at that time were very popular and even had their own ‘pearl stringer’ known as ‘Madame Visage’.

The ground floor was decorated in Louis XVI style; certain aspects were changed between 1926 and 1937 to adapt to the fashion of the day, such as Art Deco and later Cubist showcases. The first floor, on the other hand, was done in Louis XV style, as was the Salon de Jeanne Toussaint. The ceilings were lower than on the ground floor. The atmosphere was one that could have existed during the Regency and under Louis XV, when smaller, almost feminine and warm rooms were fashionable – rooms to retreat to in order to escape the rigour of court life.

In the Grand Salon, the fabrics and colours were chosen to be in harmony with the wood panelling. There are four small symmetrical salons with vaulted alcoves – coffered ceilings decorated with flowers and leaves in sculpted wood, with the masculine and feminine coming together in the form of roses, oak leaves and other kinds of leaves… The far ends of these small salons were covered in light silk, with showcases built into the panelling. The floor was in Versailles parquet, which provides the right tone and feel.

During its third generation, Cartier became the most prestigious jeweler in the world. The Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII, described it as “Jeweler to kings, king of jewelers”, and 27 tiaras were ordered for his coronation in 1902. Two years later, he honored the company with the first warrant of the Royal Court of England.

One of Cartier’s golden rules is: no copies! Variations are possible, in terms of size, colour or form, but out of respect for its customers and its designers, the workshops never reproduce an identical model of an existing piece, whether old or recent. Anything is possible, as long as it reflects the Cartier spirit. This means respecting Cartier’s styles and know-how, as well as the quality of materials and stones that are entrusted to the jeweller to be worked into their purest form. Within this unique context, which allows the customer to reveal his or her desires, the design ethic of the jeweller must be exemplary.

Traveling the world in search of inspiration Not content with having customers from all over the globe beating a path to their doors, the three brothers themselves undertook sometimes adventurous journeys around the world. At the request of his brother Louis, Pierre went to Russia in search of the finest enamels and hard-stone animal sculptures in order to compete with Peter Carl Fabergé. In 1910, he sold the extraordinary blue, 44.50-carat “Hope” diamond to Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean.

He also developed increasingly close links with clients from the world of finance and industry in the United States, including the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, the Goulds and the Fords. With the arrival of the designer Jeanne Toussaint, a woman of exquisite taste and solid character, Louis Cartier was able to continue creating jewelry worthy of the name Haute Joaillerie and connecting it to the world of Haute Couture. A friend of Coco Chanel, this talented designer, who did not herself sketch, refused to allow the
slightest flaw or fault in taste.

The S (for Silver) department, set up in 1923, produced an elegant collection of accessories and jewels. Its inventory showed a new approach to luxury objects: they were less expensive, but as stylish as ever - this intuition culminated much later on, in 1973, with the Les Must de Cartier collection. The department was managed by Jeanne Toussaint until 1933, when Louis Cartier placed her in charge of Haute Joaillerie. In that same year, Cartier obtained the patent for inventing the “invisible setting”, a specific setting for precious stones.

The sources of inspiration are endless. A favourite colour, a lucky number, a personal symbol or preferred animal … There is no limit to the ideas that can stem from the customer’s imagination, but the creative palette is also fed by the work of the Cartier jewellers. A century and a half of the king of jewelers In 1997 Cartier celebrated its 150th anniversary with exceptional Haute Joaillerie gift sets (including a necklace in the shape of a snake, paved with diamonds and decorated with two pear-cut emeralds of 205 and 206 carats). Special limited-edition series of timepieces, precious gifts and leather goods were produced to celebrate this event.

During the same year, a retrospective entitled “Cartier 1900-1939” was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and London’s British Museum. 1998: the 3-band ring (created in 1924 and already called the Trinity ring in the United States) was the subject of an international advertising campaign by the photographer Walter Chin.

The Cartier box, a unique object in itself The Magic of the Red Box - that is where the magic starts, like a suspended promise. A box encompassing pleasure, a surprise; a precious covering of red leather, recognised by all, that creates a sense of expectation, offering a hint of what lies within.

Attractive, yet simple, the Cartier box is a unique object, first designed at the outset of the House. A signed container, designed to reflect the form of the jewel that it protects. Covered in red Morocco leather, adorned with a gold lace border and padded with black velvet or white silk, depending on the stones to be presented. An item that the jeweller values to the point of reproducing its appearance in the form of a pill box created in 1970, bearing a guilloché enamel design imitating the detail of the box to perfection. Made to measure, it is so closely associated with the jewel that it contains that, at large auctions, the box significantly adds to the value attributed to the piece in question.

A witness of passing time, it records the history that grazes and humanises it. A subtle patina that further adds to the charm and mystery of this bearer of pleasure, whose power of enchantment was understood by Cartier at a very early stage. The Cartier box or the orchestration of desire Created with the utmost care, it expresses a savoir-faire capable of bringing details to life – the muffled and clear sounds of the invisible hinges that click and the catch as it is pressed shut. Cartier orchestrates the presentation of such exquisite delight with skill and delicacy.Emotion must prevail, the senses be filled with wonder from touch to sight. The signature, gold letters printed onto the white of the satin – “Cartier Paris, London, New York” – the House’s first three addresses, the velvety feel of the fabric, the suppleness of the leather…Throughout its history, Cartier has remained faithful to its box, like the customers who are so passionate about it. It is red, with bevelled corners; its distinct design is recognisable at first glance.

The ultimate symbol of French luxury - A box of dreams that, through the Cartier name, conveys the idea that there are instances when all hopes are allowed. Today, Cartier is one of the leading players in the luxury goods market. It occupies a unique position in the jewelry and timepieces segment. With over 200 boutiques in all five continents, Cartier is continuing to build on its unique wealth of knowledge and experience. Whatever the occasion invest in a Cartier piece as an investment.


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