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Things You May Not Know About Cartier

The history of Cartier takes us on a fascinating journey back through a timeline of modern Europe – Cartier’s story intertwines with so many important events and figures in popular culture that it’s clear to see why Cartier is such a coveted brand, beloved by so many.

The Cartier History

When Louis-Francois Cartier took over the workshop from his master, he couldn’t have known that his name would still be a byword for opulence and luxury over 170 years later. Best known for watchmaking and jewellery, the Cartier is still driven by Louis-Francois’s motto: “Never imitate, always innovate”.

Royal Connections

Before Hollywood – and the Cartier brand would go on to have a huge impact with the stars of the silver screen – there were the royal families of Europe and beyond. With its first royal commission, as official purveyor to the crown, from King Edward VII, Cartier was also appointed by King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King Albert I of Belgium and King Fouad I of Egypt, as well as dressing Queen Marie of Romania for her portrait sitting with László and the Maharaja of Patiala’s necklace, but it is perhaps the brand’s link with ex-royalty that Cartier is so well known for.

While the Cartier Panthere collection history takes us directly back to Jeanne Toussaint, Cartier’s Director of Fine Jewellery – so nicknamed the ‘Panther’ for the skins she decorated her apartment with – it is the woman who went on to wear her designs that is forever connected to the Cartier name. Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee, and the woman behind the Abdication Crisis, when King Edward VII of England gave up the throne for her, was known for her Panthere pieces. After her death in 1986, Wallis Simpson’s jewellery collection went up for auction and is reputed to have been purchased by several different people in the years since her death, including Mohammad Al Fayed, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins and Madonna.

Cartier’s Tank Francaise History

The Cartier story is one of great contrast, from the edge of collapse to worldwide acclaim and from the finest and most delicate jewellery pieces to a watch built like a tank. Although Cartier maintained a focus on producing the ‘wearables technology’ of the time and, in doing so, developed the Santos watch for aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont, which allowed pilots to check the time with a quick glance at the wrist, it was the Western Front that proved the inspiration for one of Cartier’s most famous pieces.

With World War I raging across Europe, Louis Cartier, grandson of Louis-Francois Cartier, watched as FT-17 tanks, made by Renault, trundled past his window. Louis incorporated the sturdy design into the Tank’s rectangular and square outline. Still produced, over 100 years on from its inception in 1917, the Tank watch has a long list of famous wearers, including Jackie O and Michelle Obama. One of the most famous Cartier Tank watches in the world belonged to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and now belongs to her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

Hollywood Sparkles With Cartier

Who wears Cartier is as important as the designs that they wear. With the stars of the big screen taking the place of royalty as trendsetters, Cartier adorned the wrists, necks and ears of Hollywood’s greatest stars, with some of the biggest names of the time connected with the brand. Gloria Swanson captured the zeitgeist of the time when she wore two Cartier diamond and rock crystal bracelets in the classic film, ‘Sunset Boulevard, that she had bought herself from Cartier in 1930.

Mexican film star, María Félix, was Spanish language cinema’s megastar. She believed that snakes represented creativity, wisdom and strength and visited Cartier’s flagship store in 1966 to commission a snake necklace that was a life size replica of a real snake. Fully flexible, just as with a real snake, the serpent necklace took two years to make and contains almost 2,500 baguette-cut and brilliant diamonds.

As Wallis Simpson is forever linked with Cartier, so too is Elizabeth Taylor. The Cartier Diamond was bought by Taylor’s then husband, Richard Burton. At a massive 69.42 carats, the diamond is reputed to have cost Burton more than a million dollars – at 1969 prices. Renamed as Taylor-Burton Diamond, Taylor then sold the diamond after her second divorce from Burton in 1979 and is said to have used some of the funds to build a hospital in Africa.

LOVE Collection History

The Cartier LOVE bracelet is an exceptional piece of jewellery and remains one of the most often pieces of jewellery Googled on the internet. What fascinates so many people around the world is that the LOVE collection was not designed to be worn on special occasions and its concept challenged how luxury jewellery was thought of. A pared back style designed to be worn by both men and women, LOVE was designed to be worn every day, even going so far as to be secured on the wearer with the LOVE screwdriver.

Designed by Aldo Cipullo in his New York workshop and presented at Cartier in Paris, the bracelet takes the shape of an oval. Intended for the wrist, it has also been called the ‘modern love handcuff’. Made from solid gold, there is a rumour that, once upon a time, Cartier prohibited single customers from buying LOVE bracelets for themselves and would only sell them to couples. It has been thought that, originally, the bracelets were made of silver and plated in gold, but that Cartier moved to producing them in solid gold. The diamond-studded Love bracelet was first introduced to the public in 1979, ten years after the original was designed. The bracelet became a highly copied item and to protect against counterfeit, Cartier began to engrave serial numbers on the bracelets.

As pawnbrokers since 1770, if you want to pawn Cartier, whether it’s a Tank watch, a LOVE bracelet or an unusual piece from one of the jewellery collections, Suttons and Robertsons will be pleased to offer you a loan against your jewellery and a free valuation of your asset. We can also arrange larger funds up to £1 million, with transfer usually within 24 hours.