Three reasons why you will enjoy 'The Cartiers' - the biography of the famous jewellery family written by Francesca Cartier Brickell.
1. That behind-the-scenes feeling. We've all heard of the magic name and probably admired several pieces in photos, online and if you're lucky, in real life. The stories in this book take you along from narrow winding alleys in Paris to the larger than life Russian court, from the up and coming Fifth Avenue to the Moghul splendor of India, and from the trenches of the Great War to New Bond Street in London. Moreover, the members of the Cartier family transform from familiar names into living, breathing people. You will get to know them on a personal level, enjoy their individual quirks and admire the massive amount of hard work and business savvy, sometimes combined with mere luck on the right moment, that turned Cartier into the global brand it is today.
2. The window on history. This may be a personal predilection of mine, but I really liked how this book ties in world history with that of the family. This is not limited to just historical events, but also to cultural exchange and changing fashions. Navigating the currents of time in a way that sometimes pays back only decades later has proven to be another succesfactor for the brand. The fall of the Romanovs, the reshaping of Europe, the rise of Art Deco, Japonerie, Chinoiserie and of course Egyptomania all find their place in the narrative, without being too obtrusive in the family story.
3. The jewellery, of course! Just reading about the Hope Diamond, the Romanov emeralds or the Thiers pearl necklace sparks the imagination. The book has two full-colour photo parts that illustrate the development within the Cartier style as well as the particular designs of the authors grandfather. Again, this is subject to personal taste: I am not so much fan of the diamond encrusted panther brooches, that I find kitschy even if they are Cartier, but on the other hand their Egyptianizing and general clean lined Art Deco designs have me on the verge of drooling. Seeing how these designs evolve and where their inspiration was drawn from was enlightening and a visual feast.
I'd recommend reading this book, for a few hours of escapist jewellery indulgence!
The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire. Ballantine Books
The book was purchased via Amazon.