Cartier & the Arts

“When considering the jewelers of the period, the first and most definitive name that comes to the mind of collectors is Cartier. Many jewelry lovers, including me, consider the Art Deco period to be the golden age of design at Cartier.” – Tom Burstein, Christie’s senior jewelry specialist

In 1899, Cartier moved their headquarters to the Rue de la Paix — a luxury international shopping destination and hub of French fashion, affluence, and trade. This location would place Cartier at the epicentre of the burgeoning Art Deco movement that would soon take the world by storm.


The Art Deco movement was ignited by the rising status of decorative artists, who had been been considered merely craftsmen throughout the 19th century. The Société des Artistes Décorateurs was created in 1901 to give architects, furniture makers, fashion designers, and jewelers the same rights to their work as fine artists. Soon decorative artists were featured in exhibitions, salons, and magazines, shining a spotlight on these creators and giving them the boost to create new, exuberant works.

It was not until 1925 that the term “Art Deco” was coined at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Cartier was notably the only jeweler out of close to 400 displaying to join the fashion houses in the Pavillon de l’Elegance rather than the jewelers in the Grand Palais, cementing Cartier’s status as not only an artisan jewelry company, but a brand.


Cartier’s relationship with the arts in all of their forms greatly influenced their unique interpretation of the Art Deco style. Founded in 1909, Sergei Diaghliev’s Ballets Russes was a jubilant convergance of art forms, incomparably influencing the brilliant colors and sense of exoticism seen in Cartier’s early Art Deco works.  A rising movement of Cubist painters like Picasso and Braque laid the framework for a shift towards geometric forms.


During this time of tremendous innovation and collaboration in the arts, a new focus was also placed upon world travel. Louis Cartier’s interest in travel and the art of exotic cultures flourished during this time, gleaning design inspiration from ancient Egypt, India, and China, and even incorporating ancient artifacts from these civilizations into new fashionable works. Rich, vibrant materials from all over the globe like lapis, coral, turquoise, and jade added color and texture to lavish diamond studded pieces.

This ivory, turquoise, and onyx pin is an exquisite example of Cartier’s visionary approach to Art Deco. Featuring an unexpected blend of colorful materials, a design comprised of geometric lines and shapes, and a hand-carved ivory bead adorned with a teapot, basket, and floral motifs from Chinese antiquity, this pin is truly a little piece of Art Deco history.