OK, it may not be immediately obvious how 18th century formal French garden design relates to jewellery but the three Cartier brothers took inspiration from everywhere. It’s clearly a well-loved book that had been in the family for a while by the time my grandfather Jean-Jacques inherited it.
As with so many of the family books, there are little sketches and notes in the margin, or on yellowing scraps of paper tucked between the pages, mainly in the hand of my great-grandfather, Jacques Cartier.
And you can see the similarities between the very symmetrical garden designs and Cartier’s early geometrical jewellery. This 1920s Cartier art deco brooch for example (top left), shares certain elements of the illustrations in the book (oval shaped, scalloped edged, central rounded rectangle), albeit set in rose-cut diamonds rather than hedges and flowers.
It’s not identical to the images in the book of course – my grandfather explained to me that his father and brothers didn’t believe in copying – but they did look to translate into their jewellery the influences and ideas around them (whether from architecture, fabrics, mythology, flowers, animals or, as it turns out, garden design) while always staying true to their very distinct Cartier style.
Would be interested to hear views too.. has anyone seen any other old Cartier creations that are similar to the illustrations here?
#creatingcartier #saturdaystyle #throwback #vintagecartier
He thought – rightly as it turned out – that even if the sale didn’t make him much profit (which it didn’t) news of the famous stone being sold by Cartier would be the perfect type of marketing in a country where the French jeweller was still relatively unknown.
The problem was, being cursed, the diamond proved pretty tricky to sell. Previous owners had reportedly succumbed to fates as diverse as being eaten alive by wild dogs, being beheaded and forced into abdication. My grandfather remembered being terrified when he found out that his Uncle Pierre had bought it – what if the curse would hit his family too?
Fortunately there was one rather rich society lady who didn’t fear the curse and simply loved enormous gemstones. Mrs Evalyn Walsh McLean (pictured left wearing the Hope), a recently married multimillionaire heiress, bought the diamond in 1911 when she was just 25 years old. She loved showing off her new purchase – at her infamous parties she would play “Hide the Hope” in the garden with all her guests, or she would put it around the neck of her great dane, Mike!
My great-great-uncle Pierre was right – the stone regularly made the gossip columns, and with it Cartier’s name too. But it didn’t work out so well for Mrs Evalyn McLean.
Whether it was the curse that followed her or whether she was just unlucky, her family suffered a succession of terrible misfortunes: her son tragically died in a car accident, her husband ran off with another woman and ended up in a sanatorium, her daughter killed herself and their family paper The Washington Post, went bankrupt.
Despite all that, she never believed the Hope curse was anything more than fiction. Still, I can see why my grandfather was worried…
#diamondnecklace #cartiervintage #hopediamond #curse #cartiernecklace #vintagecartier #antiquejewelry #familyhistory #bluediamond
Been enjoying being lost these past few weeks in the family archives. Just emerged from a trip to Belle Epoque Paris when Cartier wasn’t nearly as well known as it later became and my ancestors were focused on building their business.
What’s clear, and perhaps surprising, from these letters is the sense of camaraderie and friendship between them and other luxury family firms of the time. There are thoughtful telegrams from the Van Cleef and Arpels families – for example, on the birth of my grandfather in 1919, or on my great-great-grandfather’s death.
There are many heart-felt letters from the then incredibly famous haute-couture Worth family and the world’s best furriers – not exactly politically correct today but back then fur was the height of luxe – the Revillons (both of which became linked in marriage to the Cartiers).
There’s even a warm invitation from the head of Tiffany in Paris offering to host the wedding reception of my great-grandparents (his wife was my great-grandmother’s sister).
All in all, there’s not that bitter competitive rivalry between these families that you might expect – there’s a sense that they were all in it together. Of course, at a time when the aristocracy still held the power, these families were essentially way down the social scale: mere shopkeepers with ambitions.
Today it’s the famous fashion designers and international jewellers holding the elite parties that later appear in the glossy magazines, back then, they’d have been lucky to be invited!
#cartierhistory #creatingcartier #maisonworth #charlesfrederickworth #maisoncartier #vancleefandarpels #tiffany #revillon #hautecouture #couturier #fashionhistory #familybusiness #familyhistory #luxurybusiness
So when he came up with the idea to make a walnut-shaped box, he knew that any attempt to imitate nature just wouldn’t be as good as the original. Instead he decided to cast a real walnut in gold.
I love the wrinkled gleaming result that just calls out to be held and opened but now I also look at the originals in a new light. In fact, I couldn’t resist buying a huge bag from the local market last week – cue much excitement from the kids desperate to dig out my grandfather’s neglected trusty old nutcracker so they could get to the crunchy rewards inside … and endless little painful walnut shell pieces all over the floor!
Apparently my grandfather took forever searching for the perfect walnut to cast, going through bag after bag until he found just the right one. That appreciation of nature and devotion to the details was an important part of the special man he was, and I share this post in his memory at Christmas time.
#jeanjacquescartier #cartierbox #cartierclock #goldbox #cartiergold #vintagecartier #cartierlove #cartierjewelry #highjewellery
#cartiervintage #familyhistory #cartierjewellery