Late in October Cartier unveiled Magicien, its latest high-jewellery collection, with an exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park, which at the time was covered in the beautiful rust-hued foliage that the Japanese worship almost as much as the cherry blossoms carpeting the park in the spring.
As the name implies, the collection is a celebration of Cartier’s ability to work its magic with precious metals and gemstones: many of the pieces are transformable and come alive thanks to the technical prowess of Cartier’s Parisian ateliers. As Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s image and heritage director, explains, “It’s magical because it creates movement and the illusion of life. The eye is tricked, but with the intent to inspire fantasy rather than deception.”
A striking example of this is the illusory Incantation necklace, whose accordion-like construction allows it to change its dimensions and become a different piece of jewellery. The necklace is part of The Magic of Design, one of the three themes of the exhibition (the other two being The Magic of Light and The Magic of the Real).
Another stunning piece is the Luminance necklace, which is part of the Magic of Light theme.
“We used different layouts for the stones to create harmony through chaos,” explains Rainero of this stunner, whose haphazardly placed triangular diamonds lend an almost punk feel to the piece.
The collection’s three sections highlight the cornerstones of Cartier’s heritage: light, exemplified by the preponderance of diamonds; design, which takes centre stage in the feats of craftsmanship and technique that Cartier is known for; and the real, which pays homage to the jeweller’s flora- and fauna-inspired heritage pieces.
As Rainero puts it, “The light that shines through the stones plays tricks on the eye and at the heart of the jeweller’s work there’s magic at play. Every design endeavours to create life from inanimate materials and the task of the jeweller is to give movement to the pieces by rendering a symbolic representation of life, hence the notion of bringing the lifeless to life. It’s in this sense that the theme of Cartier Magicien speaks to our vision of jewellery.”
This was no small endeavour on the part of the Cartier design studios and workshops: the whole process, from sourcing the stones to finalising the designs and turning them into reality, took almost two years, which in fashion terms qualifies as a decade. Making true one-of-a-kind creations does take time, but for those willing to wait the rewards can be as immense as the treasure trove that is the Magicien collection.