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March 30, 2010

A Timeline of Cartier

Doug Rosa

Ever since the jeweler opened shop at 13 Rue de la Paix, in 1899, its pieces have reflected the city’s most fashionable people and most historic places.

1899: After carefully studying Paris’s monuments, Louis Cartier translates their architectural motifs into his designs, thanks to a new and flexible material: platinum. Diamond and emerald pendant, ca. 1907

1910: A Ballets Russes performance of Sheherazade at the Paris Opéra introduces blues, greens, and oranges to the company’s palette. Coral and turquoise sautoir, ca. 1922

1924: The Trinity collection’s revolutionary mix of white, yellow, and rose gold attracts mavericks like the poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, who was rarely seen without his Trinity pinky ring. Centennial Trinity ring, 2009

1925: Cartier exhibits 150 pieces in the landmark Art Deco show and proves its mastery of the classic diamond and onyx style. Rock-crystal and diamond brooch, ca. 1923

1933: Jeanne Toussaint, called “The Panther” for her strong personality, is named Cartier’s head of haute jewelry. Her animal pieces become the Duchess of Windsor’s signature. Gold, tsavorite, and onyx panther on a fabric cuff, 2009

1944: World War II prompts designers to create brooches of caged birds. This freed coral and lapis sparrow is proudly displayed in Cartier’s window in 1944, and birds become part of the house’s bejeweled menagerie. Oiseau Libéré brooch, ca. 1944

2009: The Cartier Foundation’s graffiti exhibit (through November 29) reflects the house’s embrace of contemporary culture and color. Centennial Love bracelets, 2009