Cartier Captures Escapism In A High Jewellery Collection Created During The Pandemic

Words by Rachel Silvestri

6 min read

While we stayed at home to keep one another safe, Cartier got busy bringing our fantasy trips to life. In the Maison’s latest collection of haute joaillerie we are taken on a dreamy journey to the ends of the earth, along with all the magnificence of nature that can be found on the way. MOJEH buys the ticket, and takes the ride

“This collection was designed during the pandemic, and the need to travel was very important for us,” says Jacqueline Karachi, Director of Creation at Cartier. “In fact, the reason we created this dreamlike journey was because we couldn’t physically travel.” The Beautés du Monde collection, a vivid vision of Cartier’s design and savoir faire prowess, is indeed a trip — in more ways than one. Combining a longing for travel with heady influences provided by the natural world, the geometric and figurative sensibilities of Cartier’s artisans are front and centre.

Mesopotamian culture informed the Ritual necklace

“First of all, our inspiration from nature begins with the stones,” says Karachi. “They are the most beautiful treasure that nature offers us, and nature helps to immerse us in the beauty of this marvellous treasure. I think that beauty is mostly inspired by nature, we see it in architecture, painting and sculpture too. And I think it will continue to be the most powerful inspiration for us, because everything comes from nature, even us. I think that women are sensitive to it because it speaks to us perhaps more than it does to men. We can have children, and when you are pregnant you feel you are really in contact with the earth and its cycles. So I think that it’s a natural inspiration for jewellery and always has been. If you look back through history to ancient civilisations, they were always inspired by nature too.” Speaking of ancient civilisations — Beautés du Monde mostly pays tribute to things that live and breathe. The bulbous brightness of a coral reef, the peaceful water lily and even the mysterious leafy sea dragon are all represented amongst the collection’s pieces. But one necklace, Rituel, stands out with its more anthropological touch.

“The designer was interested in Mesoamerican civilizations, so she used the triangle motif, which was often found in that culture, and the bluish green that illustrates a river,” says Karachi. “She was inspired by the Aztec fertility goddess Chalchiuhtlicue, whose name partly means jade, with two rows of beads representing a river, and the rubies being carried by the flow of the Amazon currents. So in fact, this is a meeting of the goddess and nature, and you can see how the designer has travelled very far on a quite extreme, dreamlike journey to create this jewellery. But what’s interesting is that once you know the story behind it, you can see it, and you can see the dynamic of the ruby in the flow of the water.” This mysterious figurativity is such a hallmark of Cartier, and is employed in myriad fascinating ways throughout the collection. In Apatura, for instance, the fire of Australian opals is used to represent a zoom-in on the minute detail of a butterfly’s wing. And then there’s the textural dimensions of Iwana’s geometric layers. “We like the way that you can have several interpretations of the same piece, and we tried to catch the essence of each inspiration the design,” says Karachi. “The iguana was another way to speak about the natural world and an animal, without showing the animal itself. The designer wanted to represent the skin of the iguana, so Iwana is like a second skin, completely flexible and completely articulated. You have the sensation you would like to touch it, and we used rose cut diamonds to catch the light. Because of the transparency of the rose cut there is an interaction between the colour of the wearer’s skin, the triangle motif which represents the geometric matrix of the iguana’s skin and the spots of green which finish the picture. The triangle is in the Cartier vocabulary, inspired by Islamic art, so in this kind of piece we have several links to understand what Cartier style is and the Cartier way of designing.” So what is the Cartier way? Pieces such as Water Aspis, which is as close as you can get to a snake without it actually being a snake, is a great representation of the power of Cartier’s designers to evoke without being overly literal. “Cartier’s vocabulary is based on geometry, abstraction and figuration, and sometimes we mix all of them together,” she explains. “When you bring your own journey, your personal journey, it’s the best way to be creative. We design for everybody, so we need to do the right thing for everyone.”

The Amodea ring is part of a stunning seven-piece collection paying tribute to the earth, sea and sky

“But designing to appeal to different markets is, in fact, not really a choice for us. The choice belongs to the stones. First of all, the stone has to speak to the designer and the designer needs to understand what the stone needs. So it’s just a question of them learning, and of me teaching the designers how to catch the power of the stone and to design the best way around it. I think it’s natural that we don’t think about designing for this market or that market because the stone has to speak to you, personally,” adds Karachi.

Something new and unique about Beautés du Monde revolves around stone choice, too — specifically the hot combination of onyx, diamond and rubellite. The Stria, Palmea and Aporia sets are a revelation, each four-piece set consisting of a necklace, bracelet, ring and earrings. But when viewed all together, the three form a kind of 12-piece super-set thanks to the use of white gold and that three- stone combination on each and every piece. “We designed them together in the same spirit, so with the same association of colour, and because in the end maybe you can wear the collections mixed if you want,” she adds. “Although they are high jewellery pieces, they are not completely unique. It was encouraging to work with this kind of combination of colours. They are very wearable and we love them.”

The green iguana inspired the articulated Iwana necklace

Altogether, Beautés du Monde exudes a lightness and brightness not always seen in high jewellery — the very nature of working with such eye-wateringly expensive materials can be restrictive when it comes to allowing those creative flights of fancy to truly take off. But for Cartier, this simply isn’t the case. The collection is a riot of colour and modern forms, a real celebration of all that life has to offer, which is simply a joy to behold. “In every collection we like to put forward new combinations of stones, and for this one it seemed very important to create a very joyful collection, and to do that we needed colour and energy,” says Karachi. “It symbolises life, and we wanted to design a playful collection because we really needed it, because of the pandemic. As women we need the energy that’s found in the power of colour.” And if colour is where energy is to be found, then Beautés du Monde is simply buzzing with it. Whether it’s the power of the designers’ imagination or the magic of the stones, one thing is for certain — Mother Nature has never looked so good.

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