THE CARTIERS by Francesca Cartier Brickell


The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire
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A scion of the Cartier family delivers a rich history of their jewelry dynasty.

World-renowned for its iconic gems and designs, which have included the Hope Diamond, the Tank watch, and the panther bracelet, the Cartier brand is synonymous with innovative taste. Brickell details the company's creation by Louis-François Cartier in Paris in 1847; its growth under his son, Alfred; its 20th-century expansion to London and New York under the helm of Alfred’s sons, Louis, Pierre, and Jacques, whose gifts vaulted the company into an establishment that royals and America’s nouveau riche titans appreciated; and the sale of each branch when the heirs parted ways in the 1960s and ’70s. The author’s elegant writing and a talent for braiding the main narrative with quotes from the brothers’ letters enliven a bygone period in which craftsmanship and exclusivity went hand in hand. Brickell covers strategic moves that reveal the family’s savvy and strings colorful anecdotes throughout the wider story of one of the French luxury industry's key players. Sections on Louis, whose aptitude for talent scouting and taste stood out, capture the excitement of designing influential collections. From heiresses and exiled Russian nobility to maharajas and Hollywood stars, each client was treated with discretion. The chapters set in the 1920s portray a memorable glamour, and comments from Brickell's grandfather add a warm immediacy. Jacques' excursions to India highlight his skill in cultivating connections as well as the advantages the family had in boasting three dedicated brothers who could be in different places at the same time while representing the brand. Furthermore, the resilience during the world wars shows the family’s love of their homeland. In later chapters, the author depicts the company's structural changes after the brothers' deaths with cleareyed compassion and without assigning blame. Despite occasional disagreements, Louis, Pierre, and Jacques cooperated to create a saga of remarkable faith in each other and their motto: "Never copy, only create."

A lavish, capably rendered family biography that will speak to anyone who appreciates passionate artists and dealmakers.

Pub Date: Nov. 26th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-525-62161-4
Page count: 688pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2019


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