A History of Cartier

History of Cartier
Cartier store on New Bond Street in Mayfair, London (Photo credit: Chrisdorney/ Shutterstock.com)

One of the most coveted brands in the world, Cartier has an iconic history, starting as a humble shop in Paris and transforming into the global empire it is today. For more than 150 years, Cartier has been considered the King of Jewellers and has enchanted the world with its unique designs. Its famed jewellery and striking watches display boldness and a spirit of innovation which has remained consistent right from Cartier’s inception.

How it Began

Cartier Heart Motif Diamond White Gold Pendant Necklace

The House of Cartier as we know it today was founded in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier. As a young apprentice Cartier, then 29 years old, took over the jewellery workshop of his master Adolphe Picardat in Rue Montorgueil Paris. The prestigious clientele was awestruck by the brilliance of this jeweller, unlike any other.  Louis-François’ son, Alfred Cartier took charge of the company in 1847 and set his sights on expanding the business.

Cartier Watches

Cartier Cream 18K Yellow Gold Diamond Tank Women’s Wristwatch 16MM

With its ever-growing popularity, Cartier moved its headquarters to 13, Rue de la Paix. In 1904, Cartier forayed into watches when the Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont complained about the impracticality of fumbling for his pocket watch while flying. Thus was born the Cartier Santos, a flat men’s wristwatch with a square bezel making it the first of the Cartier watches. In the same year, Cartier became the official purveyor to King Alfonso XII of Spain and to King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. Cartier soon opened stores in London and New York City.


Cartier Panthere de Cartier Diamond, Garnet & Onyx Yellow Gold Bracelet 17CM

In 1911, Cartier was commissioned by the Maharaja of Patiala in India to create a sensational necklace with 2930 diamonds. In 1914, the iconic Panthère motif was used for the first time, which eventually became a synonymous Cartier symbol. In 1924, it launched the ‘Trinity De Cartier’ collection making it an iconic piece in Cartier’s jewellery range. The three rings symbolize different stages of a relationship – pink for love, white for friendship and yellow for fidelity.

By this time, Cartier had built a reputation of being the go-to couture watchmaker and jeweller.

History of Ownership

In 1972, Joseph Kanoui led a group of investors who bought Cartier Paris. This group re-purchased Cartier London and New York and in 1979 the Cartier interests were finally combined. The group saw the appointment of heads that steered the brand forward and acquired other popular brands as they went along. In 2012, Cartier became a part of the Richemont Group.

The Cartier Look

history of cartier
Cartier Love Rose Gold Bracelet 20CM

A lot has been said about the Cartier look, and how exquisite and breathtaking it is. The coveted brand has been on the wish list of many around the world. Adored by royalty and celebrated individuals, it symbolizes pure excellence. Cartier has a fabulous lineage of watchmaking, precious accessories, and fine jewellery that has grasped international attention of the rich and famous.

Celebrities and royalty the worldwide have had an association with Cartier. Whether it’s Prince Rainier of Monaco who gave a 10.47 carat diamond-ruby engagement ring to Grace Kelly, or Richard Burton gifting a necklace with a 69.42-carat Cartier diamond to Elizabeth Taylor (giving it the name, Taylor-Burton Diamond), Cartier has been synonymous with the rich and famous for decades. Cartier also designed innumerable pieces for royalty in the last century, which were worn with great pride. Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, wore a stunning Cartier tiara at her wedding with Prince William.

Although Cartier gets its fame because of its celebrity patronage, the brand also has a popular class following, especially for its jewellery. The Cartier love bracelet that stands for never ending love and affection has been worn by many lovers across the world. A design that was inspired by medieval chastity belts, it symbolises devotion and fidelity.

The Cartier watches are no less popular and can be seen on the wrists of icons such as Mick Jagger, Pierce Brosnan, and Tom Cruise. Cartier watches have also been a favourite to First Ladies of America from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama. Additionally, the brand also has Cartier bags and other accessories like Cartier Sunglasses and Cartier Perfumes.

Why Buy Cartier?

Cartier has created supreme products with style that come from a rich history and experiences. Cartier perfumes are simple and beautiful examples that conventional products can still shake up the world. Picking inspirations from travel and experiences like the Panthère collection which has the Panther appearing in different forms and poses in real or graphic designs or mere inspiration, Cartier has made the Panther a symbol of positive femininity and reflected a passionate and liberated woman with their master craft designs. Cartier was the first to set the design standards for watch making. The shapes of the watches are an example of the breakaway design from regular round watches. Cartier has made watches of perfect size, shape, and proportion while creating a seamless harmony between the bracelet and case. Their designs are a collection of eccentric, often daring designs yet they remain refined. They feature exceptional, master craft designs that have a story of evolution behind each product, and exceptional quality that makes Cartier a must have.

Swati Talwar

Global Content and India Office Head

Seasoned lover of the written word. Travel junkie and Hogwarts alumni. Currently composing notes for the upcoming fashion week. You can also call me Licorne Magique (don't ask me why!).

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