Alain Cartier is a member of the fifth generation of the Cartier family of jewellers, and trades in jewellery, accessories and objects made by Cartier as well as by other jewellers from 1900 to 1965.
Cartier was founded in Paris in 1847. The store initially sold items made by the local jewellery manufacturers and it was not until 1902, three years after moving to rue de la Paix and the joining of Louis Cartier with his father Alfred into the business, that the firm made items in its own creative style. Cartier pioneered the use of platinum and baguette diamonds and patented dozens of inventions related to the jewellery and watch business.
Cartier's delivery of a wristwatch to aviator Santos Dumont in 1907 started the fashion for wristwatches. Cartier jewellery was made along the then fashionable Edwardian, or Belle Epoque, style. The objects - smokers'items, desk items, or feminine beauty accessories - were inspired from Fabergé's style with much use of guilloché enamel. From 1902 to 1939 the firm was bestowed with warrants from fourteen royal houses and enjoyed the clientèle of many Indian princely houses.
The London branch was opened in 1904 by Pierre Cartier, who then moved on to open New York in 1909. That same year Jacques Cartier moved the London branch from Burlington Street to New Bond Street. In 1917, Pierre Cartier moved down a few blocks on Fifth Avenue to its current neo-Renaissance mansion on 52nd Street.
Cartier's answer to Fabergé's Easter eggs was the mystery clock. The first one came out in 1912 and except for a few years in the thirties continued to be made into the sixties. They were accompanied by semi-mysterious clocks, water clocks, gravity clocks, and in the thirties by prism and electric clocks, as well as by clocks with a normal movement.
The twenties saw Cartier designing objects and jewelry in the Art Deco style with inspiration from Persia, India, and China and much use of Chinese jade and lacquer, and Mughal carved emeralds. The most colorful were jewelry pieces made in the tutti frutti style using cut, cabochon or carved stones from diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires and rubies. The Art Deco style evolved in the Modernist style in the thirties as Cartier had to accustom its production to hard economic times.
The post-war years were marked by a decline in the production of objects but jewelry had a resurgence, the panther jewelry designed by Jeanne Toussaint who succeeded Louis Cartier in 1933 as head of design, representing the best of Cartier's production. Throughout Cartier's history the firm mixed precious stones with semi-precious, or even hardstones such as coral, rock crystal, onyx and lapis lazuli to give the design the desired effect.
The Paris and New York branches were sold by the family in the sixties and London was sold in 1974.