Cartier’s Savoir Faire

Senior Specialist and Vice President Alexis Vourvoulis illuminates two Cartier designs, a convertible tiara and a pendant watch, that were created to complement the changing fashions of the 1910s and 1920s.

Senior Specialist and Vice President Alexis Vourvoulis illuminates two Cartier designs, a convertible tiara and a pendant watch, that were created to complement the changing fashions of the 1910s and 1920s.

CartierAn Important Art Deco Diamond and Platinum Convertible Tiara, circa 1925. Estimate $300,000 - 500,000. Jewels New York.

One of Cartier’s greatest strengths has always been their ability to imagine designs that follow the contemporary fashion. When couturier Paul Poiret freed women from the corset in 1910, waistlines dropped, and the female silhouette changed from the three dimensional ‘S’ shape to a two-dimensional vertical form perfect for draping. The quintessential dog collar and devant de corsage of the Garland Period, strategically placed to accentuate the bosom, clashed with the fluid lines of the new style. The sautoir, a long necklace terminating with a tassel or pendant, was designed to complement the new fashion by drawing the eye away from the bosom and down towards the hip line.

Cartier, A Diamond, Seed Pearl, Louis d’or Coin, Platinum and Gold Sautoir Pendant Watch, circa 1910. Estimate $15,000 - 20,000. Jewels New York.

Pendant watches of the 19th century were updated by suspending them from pearl and diamond sautoirs made by the Duparc-L’enfant workshop (later Georges L'enfant). Lot 5, A Diamond, Seed Pearl, Louis d’or Coin, Platinum and Gold Sautoir Pendant Watch, circa 1910, is a rare example of this combination. Cartier was not the first to make coin watches, but it was salesman-turned-watchmaker, Joseph Vergely who perfected the technique of placing an ultra-thin movement between two halves of a coin. Vergely, recognized for his technical prowess, would later run the European Watch and Clock Company in Paris and play an instrumental role in the partnership between Edmond Jaeger and Cartier.

CartierAn Important Art Deco Diamond and Platinum Convertible Tiara, circa 1925. Estimate $300,000 - 500,000. Jewels New York.

Another influential fashion trend was the bob, a scandalous hairstyle at the time, and in response, Cartier created the bandeau as a perfect accessory for the new do. Certainly not a new design for the maison, the first bandeau of record dates to 1859, but it was not until the first decade of the 20th century that this ornament was revived. The bandeau of the 1920s was reimagined with Indian, Chinese, Islamic, and Egyptian motifs. Recalling the aesthetic of the Far East, geometric forms and abstract shapes are central design elements of Lot 6, An important Art Deco Diamond Tiara, circa 1925. Fully transformable, this bandeau can be worn as a tiara, or dismantled and worn as two bracelets and a brooch. Cartier produced many of these convertible ingenious jewels in response to popular demand and current costume de rigueur.

CartierAn Art Deco Diamond, Enamel, Platinum and Gold Brooch. Estimate $85,000 - 125,000. Jewels New York.

 

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