Cartier International SNC, or simply Cartier (/ˈkɑːrtieɪ/KAR-tee-ay, French:[kaʁtje]), is a French luxury-goods
conglomerate that designs, manufactures, distributes, and sells jewellery, leather goods, and watches. Founded by
Louis-François Cartier (1819–1904) in Paris in 1847, the company remained under family control until 1964. The company is headquartered in Paris and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swiss
Richemont Group. Cartier operates more than 200 stores in 125 countries, with three Temples (Historical Maisons) in Paris, London, and New York City.
Cartier is regarded as one of the most prestigious jewellery manufacturers.Forbes ranked Cartier on its Most Valuable Brands list as 56th in 2020, with a brand value of $12.2 B and revenue of $6.2 B.
Louis-François Cartier founded Cartier in Paris in 1847 when he took over the workshop of his master, Adolphe Picard. In 1874, Louis-François' son Alfred Cartier took over the company, but it was Alfred's sons
Jacques who established the brand name worldwide.
Louis ran the Paris branch, moving to the
Rue de la Paix in 1899. He was responsible for some of the company's most celebrated designs, such as the mystery clocks (a type of clock with a transparent dial and so named because its mechanism is hidden), fashionable wristwatches and exotic orientalist Art Deco designs, including the colorful "Tutti Frutti" jewels.
In 1904, Brazilian pioneer aviator,
Alberto Santos-Dumont complained to his friend Louis Cartier of the unreliability and impracticality of using pocket watches while flying. Cartier designed a flat wristwatch with a distinctive square bezel that was favored by Santos-Dumont and many other customers. This was the first and only time the brand would name a watch after its original wearer. The "Santos" watch was Cartier's first men's wristwatch. In 1907, Cartier signed a contract with Edmond Jaeger, who agreed to exclusively supply the movements for Cartier watches. Among the Cartier team was Charles Jacqueau, who joined
Louis Cartier in 1909 for the rest of his life, and
Jeanne Toussaint, who was Director of Fine Jewellery from 1933.
Pierre Cartier established a New York City branch in 1909, moving in 1917 to
653 Fifth Avenue, the
Neo-Renaissance mansion of Morton Freeman Plant (son of railroad tycoon
Henry B. Plant), designed by architect
C.P.H. Gilbert. Cartier purchased it from the Plants in exchange for $100 in cash and a double-stranded natural pearl necklace valued at the time at $1 million. By this time, Cartier had branches in London, New York and
Saint Petersburg and was quickly becoming one of the most successful watch companies.
After the death of Pierre in 1964, Jean-Jacques Cartier (Jacques's son), Claude Cartier (Louis's son), and Marion Cartier Claudel (Pierre's daughter)—who respectively headed the Cartier affiliates in London, New York, and Paris—sold the businesses.
Robert Hocq, assisted by a group of investors led by Joseph Kanoui, bought Cartier Paris. In 1974 and 1976, respectively, the group repurchased Cartier London and Cartier New York, thus reconnecting Cartier worldwide. The new president of Cartier, Robert Hocq, coined the phrase "Les Must de Cartier" (a staff member is said to have said "Cartier, It's a must!" meaning something one simply must have) with Alain Dominique Perrin, who was a General Director of the company. As a result, in 1976, "Les Must de Cartier" became a
diffusion line of Cartier, with Alain D. Perrin being its CEO.
In 1979, the Cartier interests were combined, with Cartier Monde uniting and controlling Cartier Paris, London, and New York. Joseph Kanoui became vice president of Cartier Monde. In December 1979, following the accidental death of president Robert Hocq, Nathalie Hocq (daughter of Hocq) became president.
In 1981, Alain Dominique Perrin was appointed Chairman of Cartier SAA and Cartier International. The next year, Micheline Kanoui, wife of Joseph Kanoui, became head of jewellery design and launched her first collection "Nouvelle Joaillerie." In 1984, Perrin founded the
Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain to bring Cartier into the twenty-first century, by forming an association with living artists. In 1986, the French Ministry for Culture appointed Perrin head of the "Mission sur le mécénat d'entreprise" (a commission to study business patronage of the arts). Two years later, Cartier gained a majority holding in
Baume & Mercier. From 1989 to 1990, the Musée du Petit Palais staged an exhibition of the Cartier collection, "L'Art de Cartier."
Perrin founded an international committee in 1991, Comité International de la Haute Horlogerie, to organize its first salon, held on 15 April 1991; this has become an annual meeting place in Geneva for professionals in this field. The next year, the second exhibition of "L'Art de Cartier" was held at the
Hermitage Museum in
St Petersburg. In 1993, the "Vendôme Luxury Group" was formed as an umbrella company to combine Cartier,
Montblanc, Piaget, Baume & Mercier,
Hackett, and Seeger.
In 1994, the Cartier Foundation moved to the Rive Gauche and opened headquarters in a building designed for it by
Jean Nouvel. The next year, a major exhibition of the Cartier Antique Collection was held in Asia. In 1996, the Lausanne Hermitage Foundation in Switzerland exhibited "Splendours of the Jewellery", presenting a hundred and fifty years of products by Cartier.
In 2012, Cartier was owned, through
Richemont, by the South African
Rupert family, and Elle Pagels, a 24-year-old granddaughter of Pierre Cartier.
1969 First inclusion of a Cartier Chronometer in a
1971 – Creation of the Juste un Clou bracelet at Cartier New York.
1973 – Creation of Les Must de Cartier by Robert Hocq with Alain-Dominique Perrin.
1974 – Launch of the first leather collection in burgundy.
1976 – First collection of Les Must de Cartier vermeil watches. Creation of the first oval pen.
1978 – Creation of the Santos de Cartier watch with a gold and steel bracelet. Creation of the first Cartier scarf collection.
1981 – Launch of the Must de Cartier and Santos de Cartier perfumes.
1982 – Launch of the first New Jewellery collection on the theme of gold and stones.
1983 – Creation of the Collection Ancienne Cartier (later the Cartier Collection) to record and illustrate how the jeweller's art and its history have evolved. Creation of the Panthère de Cartier watch.
1984 – Launch of the second New Jewellery collection on the theme of gold and pearls. Creation of the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain in
In December 2018,
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) released a report assigning environmental ratings to 15 major watch manufacturers and jewelers in Switzerland. Cartier (being a subsidiary of the Swiss
Richemont Group) was ranked No. 2 among the 15 manufacturers and assigned an average environmental rating of "Upper Midfield," suggesting the manufacturer has taken first actions addressing the impact of its manufacturing activities on the environment and climate change. According to Cartier's official company document, the company is committed to conduct businesses "in an environmentally responsible manner" and "minimising negative environmental impacts."
From its inception,
Empress Eugénie was a valued client of
Louis-François Cartier and Alfred, which solidified the reputation of the jeweler. Princess Mathilde, a relative of Napoleon I and cousin of
Emperor Napoleon III, made her initial purchase in 1856 and maintained her loyalty as a customer. The diamond tiara adorned with olive leaf motifs that
Princess Marie Bonaparte wore highlighted the splendor of the Bonaparte family. She wore Cartier jewelry during her marriage to
Prince George of Greece. An opulent diamond necklace with red hues was commissioned for
Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of
Patiala, who presented it to his maharani. The Duke of Windsor commissioned jewelry for Wallis Simpson, including a "Flamingo" brooch, a "Draperie" necklace, and a three-dimensional "panther". Grace Kelly possessed a diverse collection of jewelry, including her engagement ring from
Prince Rainier III in
1955, princely emblems, various brooches, and clips she wore at the birth of
Prince Albert. The
Duchess of Cambridge wore a Cartier tiara from
1936 on her wedding day, which was originally commissioned by
King George VI for his wife and later gifted to Elizabeth on her 18th birthday.
Pierre Cartier sold the "Hope" blue diamond to an American customer,
Evalyn Walsh McLean, and counted actress
Ève Lavallière and socialite
Doris Duke among his clients. La Belle Otero wore Cartier jewelry and famously said, "A man with an account at Cartier cannot be considered ugly." Wearing Cartier during the
Belle Époque was a status symbol. Liz Taylor, who wrote My Love Affair With Jewelry about her collection, regularly received gifts from
Richard Burton and
Mike Todd. The diamond necklace that Burton repurchased from Cartier was named "Taylor – Burton". Other celebrities like
Gloria Swanson and
Maria Felix were also loyal clients, along with
Brigitte Bardot and
Yves Montand who gave gifts from Cartier.
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria wore Cartier watches during his rule within the
Medellín Cartel in Colombia.
In the 1988 film Wall Street,
Michael Douglas, a symbol of the yuppie style, proudly wore a gold "Santos" watch.
In cinema, the "Love" bracelet adorned Elizabeth Taylor's wrist in 1972 in Ash Wednesday, and
Sharon Stone wore it in the 1998 film Sphere. On stage, it was the sole jewelry piece worn by Tina Turner during her 1983 comeback tour.
^Menkes, Suzy (2006-01-10).
"A ball for the 'king of jewellers'". The New York Times.
Archived from the original on 2014-07-17. Retrieved 2012-03-14. A line-up of small rooms for special clients has original light oak wood paneling carved with garlands and hung with certificates from England's Edward VII (in 1905), through the king of Siam and Russian czars.