Rajasthan necklace designed in the signature tuttifrutti style
Cartier, high jeweller turned master illusionist, spins a bewitching tale of magic, imagination and savoir faire in its latest high jewellery collection, Cartier Magicien. With its impressive sleight of hand, the jeweller created some 102 unique high jewellery pieces and objets d’art that are more scintillating, realistic and ingeniously crafted than ever before.
Some 48 pieces from the collection were unveiled in July at the French Riviera, in the whimsical and elaborately styled Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. A further 54 new pieces were exhibited three months later in Tokyo at the Tokyo National Museum, where they were displayed for two weeks alongside other existing high jewellery Cartier creations as well as heritage Cartier Tradition pieces.
Divided into three creative themes — The Magic of Light, The Magic of Design and The Magic of the Real — the collection draws on humanity’s ancient fascination with gemstones. Coveted for reasons far exceeding their intrinsic value, precious mineral crystals have, since the dawn of time, been associated with magical and enrapturing tales of power and rejuvenation. Even to the present day, the allure of an immaculate jewel can hold captive the most resilient of minds.
Cinetique bracelet in white gold, with emeralds, onyx and diamond
Light, a jewel’s greatest conspirator, is celebrated in The Magic of Light through a series of diamond-encrusted jewellery. Making clever use of fancy diamond cuts and deft craftsmanship, Cartier successfully manipulated the principles of reflection, refraction and dispersion (the holy trinity in attaining brilliance) to its advantage, resulting in spellbinding works of jewellery unrivalled in scintillation.
Perhaps most representative of this accomplishment is the Luminance necklace, a personal favourite of Pierre Rainero, the brand’s director of image and heritage. Composed of different-sized modified triangular-cut diamonds with triangular facets, each diamond is artfully placed atop two angled triangular discs. Rainero likens its design to solar panels, a very apt description considering how the diamonds were made and positioned to catch maximum light. Their deliberate arrangement is also what gives the necklace its three-dimensional silhouette.
Questzal ear cuffs
In The Magic of Design, Cartier reveals its technical prowess in a show of clever mechanics and precision engineering. Boasting designs that are both abstract and geometrical, a style it has been associated with since the 1920s, this sub collection was also a platform to demonstrate its expertise in creating transformable jewellery.
Embodying this skill best is the Incantation necklace, a glamorous design with a jaw dropping 22.82-ct cushion-shaped Ceylonese sapphire. Comprising a supple chain of diamond-paved geometrical motifs, the sapphire pendant can be removed and worn on a ring, providing the wearer with the much sought after element of versatility that has come to be expected from the house.
However, not content with just delivering predictable results, Cartier pushed the limits of its creativity a notch further by devising an ingenious system that magically transforms the necklace’s structure with just one simple gesture. Combining the perfect balance of form and function, an innovative and elaborate system composed of a wheel-like device, rails and fine gold wiring facilitates the necklace’s transformation. The result is an opulent necklace with a removable pendant, which can be turned into a shorter and more understated diamond collier via a straightforward manual manoeuvring.
Incantation necklace with its 22.82-CT sapphire
The last creative theme, The Magic of the Real, is made up of jewellery that exude an inexplicable sense of vivacity, with flora and fauna coming to life under the jeweller’s spell. This is where Cartier’s iconic Panthère dwells, creeping up conspicuously against clusters of diamonds with its gleaming emerald eyes and distinct onyx spots, or perched majestically atop a large gemstone with its paws possessively clamped over it. It is also where exotic blooms grow in abundance: Some modelled after familiar flowers like the orchid and hydrangea, while others take on fantastical imaginary forms.
The most spectacular of them all (and indeed the most extravagant and technically challenging creation from the Cartier Magicien collection) is the Rajasthan necklace with its gemstones carved in organic forms and engraved with floral motifs. Designed in the signature Indian-style Tutti Frutti manner, it is named after the ancient stronghold of the Mughal Empire, a fitting christening given its imposing structure.
Valued at around €10 million, it is most notably composed of a 136.97-ct carved antique cushion-shaped Colombian emerald, a 22.61-ct carved pear-shaped ruby, a 16.4-ct carved Burmese sapphire and 343.68ct worth of melon-cut emerald beads. This larger-than-life statement piece can be worn in three distinct ways and with the carved emerald removed to be worn as a brooch. To attain perfection, an intense study in design, physics and engineering was done to ensure that the different components came together seamlessly and easily — like magic.