It all starts with an idea. The idea evolves and transpires into a design drawing and eventually, the idea becomes a finished piece of jewelry. There are so many tiny details to consider along the way. What type of metal should be used, what sort of settings best present the stones? What type of clasp should be used, should it be jeweled? What are the proportions of the piece? What are the limitations of the gemstones being used? Can the piece be worn more than one way? Who is the client, how does she like to wear her jewelry? What are the proportions of the client? Obviously, those are just a few of the questions that are asked before designing a piece of jewelry. The process could take weeks or months to complete. In my opinion, these sketches were original art. Today, a client usually gets a computer generated design that is very technical but is without much personality.
Often the client has purchased or acquired the loose stones privately or through a family connection (which was often the case with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor). Some clients like to purchase their own stones. Marjorie Merriweather Post was a good example of that, she was a collector of many fine things, jewelry being just one of her interests. She often purchased loose stones in her travels and then brought them back to Cartier to set.
In honor of the detailed nature of the design process, here are few drawings from the esteemed jewelry house of Cartier.
Drawing for the Duchess of Windsor’s amethyst and turquoise bib necklace.
Initial sketches for the iconic Cartier panther design.
Cartier celebrated its 150th anniversary with exceptional Fine Jewelry creations including a necklace in the form of a serpent, paved with diamonds and set with two pear-cut emeralds of 205 and 206 carats.
Cartier brooch with blue topaz and cascading diamonds, 1937.
Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Cartier amethyst and turquoise necklace, circa 1950-1951. It is set with five heart shaped amethysts, five oval shaped amethysts, 99 round diamonds, and 175 small round and oval shaped turquoises.
Marjorie Merriweather Post and her daughter, (Nedenia) Dina Merrill in a portrait from 1929 by Giulio de Blaas. Ms. Post is wearing her iconic emerald brooch, see below.
Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Cartier pendant brooch with carved Mughal emeralds and diamonds, circa 1923. The brooch is set in a platinum setting. The emeralds were acquired in London as loose stones.
Cartier designs, 1937.
Drawing of the Tank Cintrée watch designed for Princess Mdivani, the wife of Louis Van Allen, 1935.
Kingfish brooch, 1941.