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Get to Know…Cartier

Louis-François Cartier founded the Maison of Cartier in 1847 at rue Montorgueil in Paris. Beginning his jewelry career under master jeweler Adolphe Picard, Cartier eventually took over his employer’s shop and turned it into a successful business of his own. Cartier’s eye for quality and craftsmanship earned him popularity and favoritism among the aristocracy of Europe, allowing him to move his boutique to the prestigious 9 boulevard des Italiens in 1859. As Cartier’s success grew in Paris at the turn of the 20th century, global expansion was on the horizon as the Maison became a family run business, with the founder’s sons beginning to take the reins.

Alfred Cartier and his three sons. From left to right: Pierre, at the head of Cartier New York, Louis at the head of Paris and Jacques at the head of London. Saint Jean de Luz, 1922. Archives Cartier © Cartier

Alfred Cartier and his three sons. From left to right: Pierre, at the head of Cartier New York, Louis at the head of Paris and Jacques at the head of London. Saint Jean de Luz, 1922. Archives Cartier © Cartier

The brand’s expansion was spearheaded by Cartier’s son Alfred and his son, Pierre Cartier, who took the Cartier brand to the United Kingdom in 1902. London became one of the Maison’s three foremost locations, referred to as “Temples,” alongside the headquarters in Paris and a boutique on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Cartier found its way into exclusive British circles of aristocracy. The Prince of Wales considered Cartier to be the “jeweler of kings and the king of jewelers,” and after becoming King Edward VII, awarded Cartier a royal warrant of the official supplier to the king’s household in 1904.

Alfred’s youngest son, Jacques Cartier, followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and at only 22 years old, took over Cartier London in 1909. It was his son, Jean-Jacques who sparked the first real public Cartier craze and changed the watch industry by creating atypical designs like square watches inside round faces.

Cartier, at 13 rue de la Paix in 1913. Cartier Archives © Cartier

Cartier, at 13 rue de la Paix in 1913. Cartier Archives © Cartier

Back in Paris, the city was full of energy when one of the founder’s grandsons, Louis Cartier, who played the most important role in the family business, met socialite Jeanne Toussaint, a woman known for her charisma, grace, and style.


Jeanne Toussaint revolutionized contemporary jewelry and invented the iconic Cartier Panthère. Her trademark “Toussaint taste” went on to influence the most elegant women of her time.

Toussaint joined the Cartier brand in 1920 upon Louis’ request, taking over a successful bag line. As their relationship grew, he continued to impart his family’s knowledge of diamonds, gemstones, and techniques to his future successor and entrusted her with the creation of a new department, named “S” for silver. Toussaint’s creative eye for contemporary fashions landed her the role of Cartier’s Creative Director in 1933. The famous “Toussaint Taste” era launched the iconic Panthère de Cartier Collection.


Toussaint’s first Panthère sculptural jewel brooch was created in 1948 for the Duchess of Windsor and crafted in yellow gold, black enamel and emerald.

China, Persia, and India greatly influenced her style and in 1948, the first Panthère sculptural jewel brooch was created for the Duchess of Windsor. The success of the brooch created a domino effect, making panther rings, earrings and pendants extremely popular among European and American elite. Toussaint boldly paired yellow gold with vibrant colored stones, emeralds with coral and amethyst with turquoise and her presence continues to live on in Cartier designs. Today, the Panthère is found in watches, necklaces, bracelets and more.


A timeless icon, the Panthère de Cartier collection can be discovered today in rings, bracelets, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and brooches.

Cartier is one of the leaders in the luxury jewelry and high jewelry markets and its watches are equally as impressive. Cartier’s signature men’s watches, like the Santos de Cartier Collection, was also inspired by a close acquaintance of the Cartier family. The newest iterations, which feature the Santos de Cartier Skeleton Noctambule, pays tribute to aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, which the collection is named after. The aviation pioneer ordered the first modern watch specially designed to be worn on the wrist from Louis Cartier in 1904. Forward-thinking Cartier combined simplicity in design, practicality in function and innovation in its features to create a watch with an adjustable wrist position so the pilot could easily use it during flight.


In 1904, Louis Cartier created a watch for aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, resulting in the first modern wristwatch and launching the signature men’s Santos watch collection.

Santos-Dumont envisaged a floodlight to guide his way during nighttime test flights, and the latest Santos de Cartier Skeleton Noctambule is coated with Super-LumiNova pigments which, while invisible during the day, radiate stored light at night. This innovative update is just one example of the ever-evolving signature watch collection.

Visit the Highland Park Village Cartier boutique to explore signature jewelry pieces, men’s and women’s watches, and the newest Cartier collections.


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