The Art of Cartier

The Power of Style. Iconic Clients

During the first three decades of the 20th century, there emerged in Paris a new kind of social atmosphere out of which “Café Society” was born. Its Golden Age spanned roughly two decades from the 1930s onwards and it was during this time that marriages between the grandest aristocratic European families and the heirs of great American fortunes gave birth to a new elite class that was rich, cultivated and audacious. Its members bubbled over with imaginative creativity and spent fortunes making their lives a veritable work of art. The Duchess of Windsor was one of the reigning queens of Café Society, rivalling in elegance her contemporaries Daisy Fellowes and Mona Bismarck. Jewellery played a significant role as a statement of sophistication and the Duchess’s Flamingo brooch [fig. 13], Panther brooch [fig. 20], as well as a splendid necklace from 1947 are fine examples of her own daring elegance.

Flamingo brooch

fig. 12. Flamingo brooch

Cartier Paris, special order, 1940

From the 1950s other iconic clients turned to Cartier. In 1956, Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco. The prince ordered his beloved’s engagement ring from Cartier. The bride’s trousseau also included a large diamond necklace, a diamond bracelet, and three ruby and diamond clips. Elizabeth Taylor, too, was a faithful client. Her love of jewellery became legendary and she was indulged by the amorous men in her life. In 1957 Mike Todd gave her a Cartier ruby and diamond necklace [fig. 13].


fig. 13. Necklace

Cartier Paris, 1951, altered in 1953

In the late 50s and 70s, the boldest commissions ever were the jewellery ordered by the Mexican actress María Félix. A reptile enthusiast, she approached Cartier to create her unique Snake necklace and pair of earrings as well as her Crocodile necklace. [fig. 14].

Crocodile necklace

fig. 14. Crocodile necklace

Cartier Paris, 1975

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Panther Vanity Case (detail) Cartier Paris, 1928

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