Cartier’s 176-year history began when Louis-François Cartier took over his master’s workshop, but it wasn’t until his three grandsons became involved at the turn of the century that the maison became renowned the world over. Under the guidance of the eldest brother Louis, the brand pioneered the use of platinum combined with neoclassical inspiration, which conceived the design known as the ‘Garland’ style. In 1933, Jeanne Toussaint’s appointment as Creative Director signalled the start of one of the most collectable eras in the house’s history and under her tenure, the panther was elevated into a symbol of Cartier.
Throughout its illustrious odyssey, Cartier has also courted a considerable number of royals and aristocrats with King Edward VII himself dubbing the Maison “The Jeweller of Kings and the King of Jewellers!” The pieces that Cartier has created since its inception teeters on the edge of jewellery and sculpture, such as the [SUR]NATUREL Collection that turned high jewellery into wearable art. In addition, iconic designs such as the Cartier Trinity ring remain relevant almost a century later.
Chapter 1: The Journey Begins Again
Earlier this year, Cartier unveiled the first instalment of Le Voyage Recommencé in Florence, a bold collection with 80 never-before-seen creations that draw inspiration from its spectacular vast archive. This took their artisans and designers on an exploration into the maison’s fundamentals such as geometry, the purity of lines and the palette of chromatic harmonies. These were approached from a new and unexpected angle with the inimitable craftsmanship the maison is known for while remaining quintessentially Cartier.
Making up the impressive ensemble is the Sama Necklace, which demonstrates Cartier’s ability to animate the inanimate. Embellished with a brilliant 19.27-carat Ceylon sapphire and framed by white gold and diamonds, a swirling series of curves and counter curves results in a striking sensation of motion.
As they say, every second counts—but with this stunning necklace, every millimetre was taken into consideration by the craftsmen in creating each swirl. Computer Aided Design (CAD) was utilised in order to achieve extreme precision in the 3D structure. Tiny invisible articulations were integrated into the central motif to ensure that the swirls sit as close to the skin as possible, making the wearer and the remarkable necklace as one.
Next, the Claustra necklace highlights the House’s savoir-faire with two elements that have been integral to the Cartier style: geometry and contrast. Displaying the ability of the prestigious jewellery manufacturer to pave the way for trends, black and white was introduced into the Cartier repertoire at the onset of the 20th century, even before it became known as the Art Deco period.
An exceptional suite of shield diamonds forms a complex structure of Claustra made up of broken lines with a dazzling 4.02-carat specimen at its core. The necklace gives an illusion of unity but is concurrently able to be worn as two separate pieces, making it a tour de force that exhibits the prodigious technical skill of the artisans.
As much as Cartier has become a global name in High Jewellery, the maison has always in turn been inspired by the world and its cultures. Islamic art and the splendour of its architecture have given design cues to numerous exquisite pieces since Louis Cartier first encountered the ‘Islamic arts’ exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1903. His encouragement of the experimentation of chromatic combinations such as blue and green—which were considered to clash at the time—was an emboldened artistic decision that would give birth to the peacock motif, a hallmark of the House.
A contemporary expression of these themes is the Girih Necklace, which boasts an interplay of lines, motifs, and symmetry that is the perfect punctuation for your sartorial repertoire. This intensity is matched by the power of chromatic harmony between emeralds from Zambia and turquoises cut to measure by the lapidary combined with diamonds and platinum. Another transformable piece that is indicative of Cartier’s ability to evolve with the times, the central pendant also functions as an extraordinary brooch.
Alongside the unique pieces in the Le Voyage Recommencé collection is a collection consisting of two sets of jewellery: the Unda and Voltea. The chef d’oeuvre of the sets is the Unda Necklace with its fluid design that mimics ripples on water. Painstaking care was taken to create each diamond pane that appear like sparkling undulating waves adorned with 67 emerald cabochons, which were also carefully selected by gemstone experts to match according to their colour and size. The necklace is accompanied by matching earrings, a bracelet and a ring for the ultimate aquatic-inspired ornamental set.
Chapter 2: A Voyage of Sparkling Splendour
The second instalment of Le Voyage Recommencé continues with five shimmering additions, each a striking testament to the ingenuity of Cartier’s creative prowess in the world of high jewellery.
The voyage makes a stop in India, where Mughal emperors were famed for their love of treasures, leading to a legacy of jewelled craft punctuated by the delicate art of enamelling, gemstone encrustation and the use of significant precious stones.
The Dohara necklace, which celebrates the richness of the empire, took more than a year to create, requiring the collaboration of six different professionals from the high jewellery workshops—who’ve succeeded in producing a truly unique piece that can be worn front or back. Both sides are equally breathtaking with three oval brilliant-cut diamonds taking centre stage. Red, green and blue lacquer elements showcase an emblematic Cartier colour combination on one side, and the fire of diamonds enhanced by rock crystal on the other.
Like the Claustria necklace, the Miraggio Necklace draws inspiration from geometry and further combines it with optical effects and volume design. The necklace has its genesis in a line of Ceylon sapphires remarkable for their rare harmony of colour and shape. Together with emerald motifs, they form a symmetrical grid that is accentuated by lines of graphic onyx details to produce a kinetic appearance. The endeavour of two teams of experts culminated in an organisation of distinct planes resembling architecture, which feels like a second skin to the wearer.
Le Voyage Recommencé is best summed up by the one who has served as a gatekeeper to the maison’s grand creations for more than four decades: Jacqueline Karachi, director of high jewellery creation at Cartier. “This collection is a great opportunity to delve into the essential themes of the Cartier style,” Karachi said in a statement. “To explore them in greater depth, take a fresh look at them, nurtured by the spirit of the time. Approaching them with a contemporary eye to go further—a journey back to the heart of Cartier creation, an uninterrupted story being told over time.”
Discover the Le Voyage Recommencé collection at Cartier’s boutiques in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur and The Gardens Mall KL.