12 Jun 2010

A Luxury Jewelry Legend Is Born

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Princess Mathilde Bonaparte wearing Cartier jewelry in the mid-1800s

Little did French jeweler Adolphe Picard realize in the mid 1800s that his young apprentice, Louis François Cartier, would take over his business in 1847 upon his retirement and launch a company that would make jewelry and watch making history.

Cartier was a man with a gift and he used it to the best of his abilities and beyond while working for Picard for only pennies a day.  He became known for creating elegant yet simple pieces.  Sooner after he opened his new store he became a favorite of royals like Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, who was Napoleon III’s cousin.  This put Cartier on the map in the luxury jewelry world from the very beginning of his business career.

In the next decade Cartier designed some of the most unique, ornate pieces and often incorporated animals and birds.  His list of high-end clients continued to grow as the brand became exclusive.  The very first Cartier timepiece was created at the end of the century with little applause.  At this time Cartier’s sons joined the family business and helped transform the Art Nouveau pieces into a new Art Deco form.

In the early 1900s watchmaker Edmond Jaeger helped the Cartier family create beautiful jeweled timepieces made from light metal platinum instead of heavy gold.  This led to the first Tank wristwatch design as well as the Santos timepiece.

Cartier has withstood financial setbacks and a changing of the guard and is today owned by the Vendôme Luxury Group PLC.  The company continues its rich tradition of elegance, simplicity and innovation in jewelry and timepieces.

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