This September Cartier presents new jewels in the Panthère de Cartier collection – necklaces, bracelets and rings in highly articulated sculptural creations. Thanks to Cartier’s artisans the new creations combine clean lines, minimalist design and masterful jeweller techniques, like an invisible clasp system developed by the Maison.
Strong and characteristic animals are a big part of many brands’ history or even their corporate identity – both inside the luxury industry and outside. The black prancing horse of Ferrari, the Hermès logo with a Duc carriage and horse, the raging Miura bull of Lamborghini or the jumping big cat on Jaguars are iconic brand visuals. Whether in their logo or not, these symbols are an important part of the created worlds of famous Maisons in the jewellery sector too. What the butterfly is for Van Cleef & Arpels, the panther is for Cartier.
A few years ago I bought the ‘The Cartiers – The Untold Story Behind the Jewelry Empire’ book by Francesca Cartier Brickell. She is a direct descendant of the Cartier family. Her great-great-great-grandfather founded the Maison in 1847. Jean-Jacques Cartier – the late grandfather of Francesca – was the last of the family to manage the iconic jewellery company. She has spent many years tracking down original source material across the world and meeting people connected with the family & its business. She heard interesting stories about the inspiration behind the Cartier Panthers from her grandfather.
In 1914, Louis Cartier commissioned George Barbier, the great French illustrator, to create the ‘Lady with Panther’ watercolour painting, as a display card for a new collection. In the coming years the feline appeared on more and more pieces: bracelets, wristwatch cases and also on a vanity case.
Jeanne Toussaint (1887 – 1978) was Louis Cartier’s lover and she joined the company around 1913. Albeit she was not the first to use it, she was credited for the introduction of the characteristic panther motif on jewels. Her colleagues even gave her the ‘Panther’ nick-name – or ‘Pan Pan’, as Francesca Cartier mentions. She became the Director of Fine Jewellery at Cartier in 1933 and her vision and ideas defined the company’s direction. She became friends with the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, an American socialite and wife of the Duke of Windsor (the former King-Emperor Edward VIII), who was a real trendsetter in her time. One of the most famous Panthère jewels – a gold and enamel panther brooch set with a cabochon emerald – was created for the Duchess in 1948.
Toussaint was Coco Chanel’s contemporary, and her character – influencing her environment a great deal – was equally strong. “Mademoiselle” left her mark in the world of fashion; Jeanne left her legacy in the jewellery field.
The panther is now an inseparable element of Cartier, you can find the feline on the ‘Métiers d’Art’ watches, using very special techniques and showcasing different reinterpretations of the panther and also on other Panthère collections – and of course its design evolves and fascinates new generations.
New Panthère de Cartier jewellery pieces
The new two-head panther jewels are crafted in yellow or white gold – the more minimalist yellow gold pieces are featuring tsavorite garnet eyes and marked with octagonal black lacquer spots.
The white gold panthers are paved with diamonds, set with onyx spots and emerald eyes. For this version the gem-setter has to encircle each stone with small metal grains to secure it. Next, using the Cartier “fur” setting, they skilfully cut around the onyx to give the impression of the animal’s silky coat.
Bringing the pieces to life, the movement of the articulated Panthère necklace and bracelet is made possible by an invisible system developed by Cartier. It includes the composition of two different components crossed with two gold blades which are linked to two springs positioned in the heads of the panthers.
The faces of the novelties are Ella Balinska, young British actress who is a brand ambassador from 2019 and Korean artist Jisoo (Kim Ji-soo), who joined the Panthère community as the newest Cartier ambassador.
Source: press release. Photo credits: Cartier
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