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Cartier Hardcover – 29 Oct 2007
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Cartier! The name still works its magic. But it was a long climb from the 1847 launch of Louis-Fran&c184;ois Cartier's family business in the shadow of Paris's Eglise Saint-Eustache. The company's fortunes paralleled the rise of wealthy tycoons, rich on colony profits, and reached an early peak in the years before World War I. But it was under the three brothers Louis, Pierre and Jacques that Cartier became Cartier as we know it, the emblem par excellence of the Cocktail Age; one simply had to have that monogrammed tin-opener, that diamond belt, that gold toothpick.
Jewellery expert Hans Nadelhoffer was well placed to tell Cartier's glamorous story, first published in 1984 and now available for the first time in large, glossy paperback. Given the full run of the company's extensive archives, he tells the Cartier story, full of juicy anecdotes, and, importantly, brings to centre-stage Jeanne Toussaint, the woman whose taste became the litmus test for the Cartier brothers' creations, despite her complete lack of design skill: "My inability to draw qualifies me to assess the work of others". And for those who just want to drool at the pretty things, Nadelhoff drenches his narrative in nearly 500 illustrations, 200 of them in gorgeous Cartier technicolour.--Alan Stewart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'Lavishly documents [Cartier's] opulent and long-established house styles and classic designs'
-- The V&A Magazine
'Rich and authenticated... packed with sensational facts and figures'
-- The Scotsman
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The Cartier phenomenon was the achievement of Cartier's three sons; Pierre (in charge of Cartier New York), Louis (in charge of Cartier Paris), and Jacques (in charge of Cartier London) who built an empire and divided it up among themselves. Their clients (for all their diverse backgrounds) had one thing in common - unlimited wealth.
Cartier notched up an illustrious list of Royal Warrants; King Edward VII and King Alfonse XIII of Spain (1904), King Carlos Of Portugal (1905), King of Siam and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (1907), King George I of Greece (1909), King Peter of Serbia (1913), Duc d' Orléans (1914), King Albert I of Belgium (1919), King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Prince Albert of Monaco (1920), Prince of Wales (1921), Queen Marie of Romania (1928), King Fuad of Egypt (1929) and King Zog I (1939).
The type of jewellery designed was much influenced by fashion as a whole. From 1900 there were striking parallels in the ranges of the couturier on the one hand and the jeweller; the Louis XVI style of Marie Antoinette and the Directoire style (a result of Sarah Bernhardt's appearances in Sardou's Tosca).
At the turn of the century were two opposing forces in jewellery design, the supporters of the elegant garland style led by Louis Cartier and the supporters of Art Nouveau (religious themes and patriotic jewellery which emerged during the First World War).
Under the spell of Fabergé Cartier were unable to match the variety of enamel colours of their Russian models, but succeeded instead in creating a number of new colour combinations, such as the blue-green or violet-green match which Louis Cartier himself liked.
Following the murder of the Tsar and his family, the Russian aristocracy and members of the imperial household fleeing their country, a lot of magnificent jewels, in particular that of Grand Duchess Vladimir and the Yusupov treasure were sold on the European market.
The series of historic stones handled by Cartier's as brokers offers a glimpse into a realm of cultural history which tells of private destinies, shattered hopes, ambition and tragedy and sometimes, fleeting happiness.
It seems that the famous slogan of De Beers South Africa "A Diamond is Forever" is simply not true.
The American "Royalty" who so feverish wanted to emulate court life - the Vanderbilt's, De Rothschild's, Walsh McLean dynasties and others - baubles would be completely out of place in today's society. I mean, who can visualise a Barbara Hutton wearing the famous emeralds of Grand Duchess Vladimir in a tiara and the 38.19 carat `Pasha' diamond set in a ring? Or the most precious cascade of coloured diamonds known to history, the ceremonial necklace of the Maharaja of Nawanagar? Or the `Star of South Africa' pear-cut diamond weighing 47.69 carats as a pendant brooch?
Maybe that's why the Onassis heiress (Anthina) has sold her mother's jewellery simply finding it to ostentatious to wear. Elizabeth Taylor seldom wears her `Burton-Taylor' diamond weighing 69.42 carats.
Maybe we should leave the tiaras for the few Royal heads that's still left in Europe to wear. But even sometimes, Queen Elizabeth looks "surreal" wearing her magnificent tiaras and saffaire necklaces in this day and age.
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