Hubert Burda Media

Cartier's Trip Down Memory Lane

For its latest high-jewellery collection, Étourdissant, Cartier revisits its roots and extraordinary heritage


Against the backdrop of a slowing global economy, you might be forgiven for thinking that jewellery sales are taking a tumble. Add to that the crackdown on conspicuous consumption in China and a weakening retail sector in key markets such as Hong Kong, and the picture for the purveyors of haute joaillerie looks anything but rosy.

You’d be surprised, then, to learn that the market for jewellery has instead proven extremely resilient, especially at the very top, among collectors of one-of-a-kind pieces that represent the pinnacle of jewellery making. 

Because of its intrinsic value and its minimal exposure to trends, jewellery is a true lifetime investment. But with high-quality diamonds and stones becoming rarer and rarer, it’s no surprise that prices for the finest jewels have shot up in recent years, the truly rich having opted for jewellery as a safe investment that will weather any market turmoil.

Prestigious houses such as Richemont-owned Cartier, which rely less on watch sales for their bottom lines, have greatly benefited from this development and have been extremely active in courting clients around the world with their most exclusive products.

For the unveiling of its latest high-jewellery collection, Étourdissant, Cartier went on a tour from the South of France to Dubai and Singapore, where its most important clients got to admire and order exceptional pieces featuring exceptional stones.

With more than 30 years at the jeweller, Pierre Rainero, style and heritage director of Cartier International, has seen how the world of jewellery has gone through many changes over the years, and is confident that maisons such as his own will always cater to connoisseurs looking for special pieces. “The quest for timeless luxury items has never been stronger – more so than ever in a period of economic uncertainty,” said Rainero the day after a gala dinner to celebrate the opening of a Cartier high-jewellery exhibition in Singapore late last year.

But what makes Cartier and its creations stand out among the established houses of Place Vendôme as well as among the smaller brands that thrive making bespoke pieces? “It’s thanks to our extraordinary stones, because at Cartier – in a way – it’s our topic,” says Rainero. “It’s our work to look for the most exceptional stones in the world and to provide them to our clients, to select them according to their extraordinary character. Our stones have personality, some of them have history. When you think of Cartier, the value of Cartier is its artistic dimension. Cartier is really art in its conception and its design. It’s the fundamental added value of Cartier in the world of high jewellery.”

From a platinum and diamond bracelet set with a massive blue sapphire to a gold necklace adorned with a series of garnet and ruby beads and diamonds, each
item from the range is a collectible – Étourdissant translates, quite appropriately, as “astonishing”. Looking at these pieces, you can’t help but marvel at their sparkle and tremendous value, but in the end it’s the stunning design of these jewels that makes you swoon. However valuable these works may be, luxury lovers don’t buy them to boost their portfolios, they buy them for the emotional investment in a masterpiece that is indeed truly astonishing.