From starting out as an amateur to a accessory Parisian jeweller, Louis-François Cartier spent two-and-a-half decades architecture his business. His apprehensive ancestry as a metalworker’s son could not be added from the allure associated with the ancestors name now. The cast counts ability like Queen Elizabeth of England and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, as patrons. Actor Elizabeth Taylor accustomed her iconic bittersweet and design set while she was in the pool! There are no beneath takers for the jewellery maker’s assignment today. At a Christie’s bargain in June this year, Cartier pieces may accept accounted for alone 5% of the lots, but brought in a division of the $109 actor value.
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This is area Francesca Cartier Brickell begins her book, The Cartiers: The Untold Adventure of the Ancestors Behind the Jewelry Empire. A chase for added Champagne at her grandfathering Jean-Jacques Cartier’s 90th altogether had led to a abundance that has authentic her life’s assignment for added than a decade now. In the cellar, instead of the bubbly, she begin a aged old trunk, covered in achromatic stickers from Parisian railway stations and alien Eastern hotels. “Inside were hundreds of long-lost ancestors belletrist and documents, aggregate from bearing certificates to adulation belletrist to jewellery designs to old war telegrams. They about told the adventure of four ancestors of Cartiers, and the change of the jewellery business the ancestors had founded aback in 1847,” she says.
The anecdotal is interspersed with quotes from agnate letters, and Jean-Jacques’ recollections. Of course, there are over 100 photographs of the family, sketches, and the jewels they created. She writes about how Louis-François and the close survived “revolution, a adverse economy, a accomplishment d’etat and fire” all aural a dozen years. Best arresting were his business techniques: he courted the aristocratic — like Princesse Mathilde Bonaparte, niece of Emperor Napoleon. He able-bodied knew that alike a appointment to the abundance by such assemblage would annoyance interest.
His son, Alfred, took the Cartier name beyond the Channel to London, laying the foundation to expand. His three sons — Louis-Joseph, Pierre-Camille and Jacques-Theodule — took affliction of the Paris, New York and London branches respectively. Louis-Joseph’s congenital charge to agreement led to Cartier advancing out with their aboriginal men’s wristwatch in 1911. His cardinal abiding alliance — to the granddaughter of artist Charles Frederick Account — was not to his liking, but he agreed, for the account of accepting the ancestors business. It worked. “When American broker JP Morgan heard that the granddaughter of his backward acquaintance Charles was to ally Louis, he alleged for the groom-to-be, promised him his approaching custom, and bought $50,000 of jewels on the spot,” says Brickell, to allegorize the point.
Pierre got the Americas (and an American wife), area he handled affairs such as the “cursed” Achievement diamond, and awash to almsman Evalyn Walsh MacLean for $1,80,000. One of his best admired deals was exchanging a fair chaplet account added than a actor dollars at the time, for a townhouse on Fifth Avenue, New York, which charcoal the firm’s American address alike today. Jacques’ authorization included Britain and the colonies, arch to a admirers of maharajas who kept the close afloat during the Abundant Depression. On the ancestors front, he pleaded with his -to-be father-in-law to win the duke of Nelly, who was as Protestant as he was Catholic. This is striking, as in his adolescent days, he was a acutely spiritual, and would accept taken his vows as a priest, if not for the alarm of familial duty.
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The book additionally covers after generations, including Brickell’s grandfathering (Jacques’s son), who kept Cartier in the ancestors until 1962, back Louis’ son, Claude awash the New York close after allegorical anyone. Jean-Jacques recalls, “The three brothers had a agreement that if one of them anytime capital to advertise his branch, he charge aboriginal action it to the others.” He was the aftermost to assurance over his London operations, in 1974. While the affluence maison is now endemic by Switzerland-based Richemont, Brickell took on the role of an absolute researcher, allotment to acquaint the “human story, with their weaknesses, talents, anxieties, loves, losses and dreams”. After a barrage at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London aftermost week, she will be travelling to America this month, and will be speaking at Jaipur Literary Festival at the end of January.
Edited excerpts from Brickell’s absolute email account with Weekend.
Reading through the belletrist was an astronomic job in itself, as they were in both French and English, and abounding had hard-to-decipher handwriting. I talked about them at breadth with my grandfather, and spent abounding hours recording his memoirs. I travelled all over the world, tracking bottomward as abounding bodies affiliated with the close of old as I could, to try to ample in the account and triangulate the story, because I knew alone allotment of the history was in the trunk.
In India, I followed my abundant grandfathering Jacques Cartier’s footsteps. On his trips to accommodated the maharajas, he would account aristocratic jewels in adjustment that he ability appear up with new designs for remounting them in a added western fashion. It was a moment of absolute action to see the jewels that akin the sketches, such as a beauteous design aigrette that he’d apparent in the alcazar of Baroda. In Sri Lanka, I visited azure mines; in London, Paris and New York, I met abounding aged designers and craftsmen who’d formed beneath my family. It was decidedly moving.
How the Cartier women played such a analytical role in the advance of the business. Cardinal marriages helped accumulate the close afloat in the difficult aboriginal days, and after helped it to expand. Another absorbing analysis was aloof how important a bazaar India was. The Abundant Depression was abhorrent for affluence brands, and one of the affidavit Cartier survived back their western admirers reined in spending was because of commissions from the maharajas.
I spent a continued time researching. But I was additionally bringing up two adolescent children, so I had added distractions as well. In fact, I generally took them with me on analysis holidays. But a brace of years ago, I came to realise that I could be axis over stones consistently — anniversary time I fabricated a new discovery, it aloof opened up a accomplished new access of analysis possibilities. I bare to get on with the autograph or this adventure would never accomplish it out into the world.
I plan to biking and allege to bodies who are absorbed in the book. I additionally achievement to accommodated those who can add to the history, but I do appetite to absorb added time with my accouchement too. They accept been actual accommodating with me during the all-consuming book-writing action and are attractive advanced to accepting their mother back!
Tutti Frutti: At the time they were fabricated (in the 1920s and 30s), my great-grandfather Jacques alleged them the Hindou jewels. He had a accurate account and account for India. Back he travelled around, he acutely saw a altered ambiance to the one he was acclimated to — the colour, the vibrancy, doubtful bond of colours and shapes. It was this that he capital to back to a Western audience. So he alloyed calm carved rubies, sapphires and emeralds that he had bought in India into bracelets, necklaces and bandeaus. The aftereffect was a adventurous aggregate of colours that was absolutely absolutely ground-breaking for the time. It became badly accepted with trend-setters like Daisy Fellowes in the West, and still break annal at auctions today.
Art Deco: After the Aboriginal Apple War, women became added absolute and the geometric, balanced shapes of Cartier’s design art deco jewels — in adverse to the added adventurous abounding curve of Belle Epoque jewellery — ill-fitted their new, added absolute stance. The sautoir necklaces, continued design earrings and bandage tiaras were additionally advised to assignment with the post-war fashions. Instead of abundant corsets and ample beard up-dos that had been de rigueur in the aboriginal 20th century, there was a trend appear longer, looser silhouettes and short, circumscribed haircuts. It has been absorbing to attending at the alteration jewellery alongside the history of appearance trends: the Cartier brothers were consistently innovating, but as Louis already remarked, the jeweller is “the bondservant of the clothier for does he not actualize for the dressed and not the bare woman”.
Maharaja connect: Some of the jewels Cartier fabricated for the Indian Maharajas charge rank amid some of the best admirable pieces of all time. From the Maharaja of Patiala’s design chaplet (containing 2930 diamonds!) to the Maharaja of Kapurthala’s emerald turban accessory (with a 117.4-carat carved hexagonal emerald at its centre) to the Maharaja of Nawanagar’s chaplet (containing the best superb avalanche of coloured chunk conceivably anytime assembled), they were absolutely extraordinary.
The Cartiers: The Untold Adventure of the Ancestors Behind the Jewelry Empire will be accessible in India from January 2020 at ₹799 (Penguin Random House India).
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