Emerald, onyx, diamonds – a brooch! Jeanne Toussaint reportedly shouted when she spotted a panther in the jungle thickets. Even then, she was Cartier’s artistic director. She was on a safari with Louis Cartier to explore the black land and – as it turned out … jewelry inspiration. Since then, the black cat has entered the salons and has never left them.
The first cats
The first wild cat found its home on the strap of a luxury watch in 1914 – in diamonds and ebony wood. Jeanne Toussaint had joined Cartier the year before, entering the world of accessories and accessories, and a little later high jewelry, wearing a panther coat. Given her extraordinary intelligence and cleverness, she quickly gained the nickname “La Panthere”. From the very beginning, she was looking for appropriate means of expression to realize her wildly specific artistic vision – making three-dimensional animals – and above all, wild cats. It was not until 1927 that Peter Lemarchand joined the team, revolutionizing the process of treating and binding gems technically. Twenty years later, the Duke of Winsdor entered the studio, and the story began.
The Prince of Winsdor’s wild panther
The first three-dimensional Cartier Panthère design was created in 1948. The Duchess of Windsor’s wrist was adorned with 116.74-carat emeralds from the Duke’s collection. The cat itself – in gold and onyx, perched on top of the jewel. Each year the couple ordered another panther – in 1949 it was time for a diamond cat brooch decorated with sapphires. In 1952, diamonds were combined with onyx in Cartier’s workshop. The Duchess of Windsor was not the only woman seduced by Cartier cats – Daisy Fellowes, the great singer, also had a soft spot for the Panthère collection, although it was the Tutti Frutti collection that made her famous, desirable, and recognizable. She had her own brooch – combining diamonds and sapphires.
The future of black cats
Cartier, like the Chanel fashion house, revolutionized the vision of its brand after the 1980s. It was the peak moment of the Panthère collection’s popularity, which is why some people associate it with the times of Modern Talking. The changes did not spare jewelry panthers – adapted to the requirements of the present day, they have lost nothing in their popularity and beauty. Technological advances made it possible to produce even more realistic cats, in equally luxurious materials. Worn with pride by the world’s greatest elegant women, they are still synonymous with style and good taste. And every panther is a crow in the world’s art and jewelry auctions, regardless of its year of origin.
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Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Guardian Talks journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.