Every good jewellery lover likes to know the history of the famous houses of the industry, such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Bvlgari and Cartier.
And when the story is told directly to us by a member of the founding family, it becomes impossible to resist. This is exactly the case with a new book about Cartier’s history to be published soon.
Francesca Cartier Brickell is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Louis-François Cartier who founded the brand in 1847 in Paris.
Jean-Jacques Cartier, the late grandfather of Francesca Cartier Brickell, represented the fourth and last generation of the family to manage and own part of the company, before it was sold in the 1970s.
Although she had already begun to write stories about the life of the family business and about the family man, it was the accidental discovery, in 2009, of a trunk full of letters in Mr. Cartier’s French house that set things in motion.
The trunk contained hundreds of letters that were thought to be irretrievably lost, including letters on orders for King Edward VII, Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia, Coco Chanel, Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Queen Elizabeth.
It also contained testimonies of important moments for the family, such as birth announcements, telegrams of condolences, love letters and airmail envelopes containing documents referring to professional difficulties and achievements, strategies and advice.
“The more I read, the more I realized that I couldn’t bear to repack these letters and put them in boxes for decades to come,” writes Francesca Cartier Brickell in the introduction to her book.
After this discovery, Francesca Cartier Brickell spoke regularly with her grandfather in order to hear the stories directly from his lips. But she also undertook extensive research on her family history and traveled around the world to find people who had ties to her ancestors and to consult long-overlooked family archives. She wanted to find new stories and follow the story line.
The outcome? A book full of unpublished stories, made of dramas and romances, evoking the efforts made to survive difficult times and the celebration of some of Cartier’s best moments.
“The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire” takes us on a journey through the history of the jewellery brand and the family behind it, from the French Revolution to its sale in 1974.
The book is based on the three grandsons of the founding member of the Cartier brand, whose collective leitmotif was “never copy, always create”: Louis, a visionary designer, creator of the first wristwatch for men, Pierre, the wise businessman, who bought Cartier’s headquarters in New York on Fifth Avenue for two rows of natural pearls, and Jacques, a gem expert who inspired the famous Tutti Frutti design.
The three brothers made it possible to transform Cartier into an internationally renowned brand in the early 1900s.
Beyond family stories, the book also offers readers a glimpse into the hidden history of some of Cartier’s most emblematic jewels, such as the Hope Diamond curse, the Romanov emeralds and the design of its classic panther, but also the many celebrities, fashion icons and royal family members who wore them.
It also contains archive photos, allowing you to see the evolution of the brand visually, as well as a calendar to help history lovers find their way around.