French jewellery maison Cartier, renowned over its 170-year history for its exquisite stones and unique settings, has once again demonstrated that beauty and design innovation can sit comfortably together. The latest additions to the Cactus de Cartier collection offer a new perspective on a plant that is nothing if not enigmatic: an organism that is able to withstand the harshest conditions on the planet, is covered with vicious spines, yet produces beautiful, fragrant flowers in the dead of night.
Rings, pendants, bracelets, hoop earrings and bag brooches are all given an inspired upgrade by Cartier. Take, for instance, a pink-gold ring on which cacti sprout in pairs in deep-red spinels among diamonds, delightfully matched by earrings in a similar design. Somewhat bolder is the Cactus de Cartier bracelet in yellow gold, which sports chrysoprases, emeralds and carnelians in vivid green, contrasting with eight brilliant-cut diamonds, also matched by green earrings and a ring. Handbags are also given the thorny treatment, one in green crocodile skin features a succulent brooch clasp decorated with emerald beads and carnelian leaves, while another in eye-catching gold crocodile skin – infused with 24k gold dust –also has a clasp in emeralds, carnelians and diamonds. Meanwhile, a necklace in yellow gold features a cactus topped with six brilliant-cut diamond flowers.
The designers and craftsmen at Cartier have brilliantly echoed the fine detailing in real cacti in these pieces, whether it be the symmetrical spiny ridges which run from base to tip, or the way in which the blooms forms dense clusters at the crown. And just as they occur in nature, the pieces can be worn alone or in groups to stunning effect.