A GEM OF A BOOK

By: DAVID MASELLO

A stunning look at Cartier’s commitment to the extraordinary.

 

Cartier’s iconic panther remains in mid-stride and the jeweler’s arrays of multicolored gemstones still assume precise geometric patterns that evoke views through kaleidoscopes. Ever since Louis Cartier and his brothers established the brand back in the early twentieth century, the company’s artisans have continued to reinvent the jewelry we wear—bracelets, broaches, rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants, even watches and cufflinks, and desk accessories. No shape nor form, color combination, or natural phenomenon goes unexplored in Cartier’s quest to turn stones into art. In its continued efforts to create trinkets for today, Cartier’s artisans are reinventing the brand while remaining true to its origins.

The new volume from Flammarion, Cartier: Le Voyage Recommencé: High Jewelry and Precious Objects ($115), does as its title suggests, take readers on a “renewed journey” into their world of jewelry making. The book’s very first declaration, “We shall not cease from exploration,” reveals Cartier’s commitment to creating the new and the memorable.

“The Cartier style is thus both singular and plural, expressed in many ways but always recognizable,” state its authors, Francois Chaille, a prolific writer of books about fashion and jewelry, and Helene Kelmachter, an art historian, curator, and longtime cultural attaché at French embassies around the world.

History matters, and this mantra has guided the new Cartier artisans. Just as Monsieur Cartier long ago embraced the tenets of Modernism—precise lines and a cuddle of geometry—so, too, are the new jewelry items reflective of that movement. While these new artisans have “set new rules for geometrical relationships,” the writers reassure those who admire the Cartier look that the designers “ …applied their imaginations and talents to a keen reworking of the lines of an essential design, plotted, without embellishments, by Louis Cartier in his quest for modernity.”

Leafing through the volume is an immersion in color and contours. We see the actual inspirations that inform these new designs. The Favilla ring, for instance, centered on a ruby and surrounded by diamonds and platinum, references contemporary architecture as well as the facades of ancient cathedrals. Islamic geometries, Persian motifs, Egyptian pharaonic figures, and Mughal traditions figure into other creations. Throughout the text, the writers have presented numerous literary and artistic allusions—quoting T.S. Eliot and Jean Cocteau, citing the abstraction of Yves Klein and Jasper Johns—as inspirations for the new offerings. But no matter what is forged from platinum and silver and gold, “At Cartier, the design is always guided by the desire to allow the stones to express their full brilliance.”

Here is a look not only at the new jewelry of our era but also a renewed journey into the meaning of what we wear and why it matters.

 

 

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