Sitting on the Duchess of Windsor’s lapel is one of Cartier’s most recognized jewellery creations, the flamingo, with feathers set in stunning emeralds, rubies and sapphires, standing majestically at just over nine centimetres tall. Its royal stature is matched with perfect vividness that seems to take flight any moment. Yet, there it is, captured forever in a memorable photograph for the world to see.
Jewels like this come from a unique realm within the House of Cartier, a world where master jewellers meet the demands of their customers. The flamingo brooch, expertly crafted by Jeanne Toussaint who worked closely with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, is one of Cartier’s iconic pieces. It is one of the many creatures in Cartier’s animal kingdom, where crocodiles, panthers and exotic living things reside among ravishing gardens and Art Deco palaces.
Cartier has been crafting flawless creations with glittering gems since 1847. From engagement rings and tiaras, to animal-inspired pieces, it is Cartier’s unique combination of extravagance and elegance that has made it one of the world’s most desirable maisons.
Maharajahs, tzars, kings and stars from the silver screen have fallen prey to Cartier’s fauna and flora. A diamond and sapphire studded pather perched upon a sapphire cabochon for the Duchess of Windsor. The Mexican diva and actress María Félix was best remembered in her visit to Cartier’s Rue de la Paix boutique presenting a baby crocodile in a jar for her special order of ‘a miniature jewellery version of the reptile.’ The result is an celebrated necklace of two gold crocodiles embellished with yellow diamonds, emeralds and rubies. Not to mention her more exotic pieces such as a fully articulated platinum serpent with emerald eyes. Her Highness the Begum Ana Khan had a penchant for floral motifs and had Cartier create a lotus-inspired platinum and diamond tiara for her. However, it was perhaps Mike Todd's gift for his wife Elizabeth Taylor that outshined them all, the Cartier Ruby Suite - a breathtaking set of earrings, bracelet and necklace in platinum, diamonds and rubies.
These are just a few of the memorable chapters in the Cartier saga, where jewels transcend emotions to become icons and legends to be remembered for generations to come. This October, these gems along with 400 other precious pieces will be on display in Madrid’s Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in an exhibition fittingly called ‘The Art of Cartier,’ showcasing the maison’s impeccable craftsmanship and its unprecedented masterpieces. The museum, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is pleased to host this exhibition - ‘a blend of resonances and dialogue from the heart of [Cartier’s] long-standing connections,” according to scenographer Jorge Varela.
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