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Cartier Paris circa 1945 Gold and Diamond Necklace Convertible to Bracelets

$225,000

About

A necklace composed of twisted gold links accented with diamonds, separates into necklaces of three different lengths, and one to four bracelets; mounted in platinum and 18-karat gold, with French assay marks • 720 round diamonds, total weighing approximately 12 carats • Signed Cartier, Paris, each numbered 06920 • Circumference: 32 inches, bracelets: 8 inches each, width: 7/8 inch Significance The 1940s was largely dominated by World War II, and the pressures of wartime changed material culture and leisure pastimes. Women went to work in large numbers to fill positions vacated by soldiers, and their clothing changed from carefree flapper attire to a professional silhouette dominated by suit jackets with wide shoulders and nipped in waists. Going to the movies became a major pastime, and the advent of Film Noir, with dark themes and chiaroscuro lighting, reflected the serious attitudes of the era. The exaggerated visuals in film and fashion required bold oversized jewels. In 1940, Vogue featured a picture of Princess Hohenlohe, an American who married a Polish diplomat. She was photographed by Horst in an atmospheric Film Noir manner with a serious expression and heavy shadows. The Princess wears bold gold and diamond jewelry, including a Cartier bracelet identical to the ones in this set, which complements the serious feel and adds subtle glamour. Twisted links of gold come together to make this jewel. The place where the links meet is subtly flattened and set with diamonds in platinum, adding a touch of chic luxury. Hidden clasps allow the necklace to be separated into various combinations of necklaces and up to four bracelets that can be stacked or worn individually. Although Cartier is often associated with important gemstones, the company also created artistic pieces, such as this necklace, that were more about design than materials. This machine-style piece was created at a time when art and design were influenced by the ideal of the machine as a combination of ingenious gears, cams, and axles. All trace of romanticism or whimsy had disappeared, replaced with a sense of bold strength. Some of the most fashionable women of the 1940s wore oversized link bracelets, including Millicent Rogers, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, and the Duchess of Windsor, reflecting a glamorous era of independence and industry. Cartier cleverly adjusted the design of the link bracelet to create a necklace, and it is exceedingly rare to find a set of four bracelets convertible to a long necklace. This iconic twisted link jewel would be an important and chic addition to any collection. Literature cf. Vogue, September, 15, 1940, p. 65.

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About Cartier (Designer)

Perhaps 1847 was not the ideal time to open a new watchmaking and jewelry business, as the French Revolution was not kind to the aristocracy who could afford such luxuries. Nevertheless, it was the year Louis-François Cartier (1819–1904) — who was born into poverty — founded his eponymous empire, assuming control of the workshop of watchmaker Adolphe Picard, under whom he had previously been employed as an assistant. Of course, in the beginning, it was a relatively modest affair, but by the late 1850s, Cartier had its first royal client, Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, niece of Napoleon Bonaparte, who commissioned the jeweler to design brooches, earrings and other accessories.


Under the leadership of Louis-François’s son, Alfred, who took over in 1874, business boomed. Royalty around the world wore Cartier pieces, including Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the Maharaja of Patiala and King Edward VII, who had 27 tiaras made by the jewelry house for his coronation in 1902 and issued Cartier a royal warrant in 1904. (Today, the British royal family still dons Cartier pieces; Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, regularly sports a Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch.)


Cartier’s golden years, however, began when Alfred introduced his three sons, Louis, Pierre and Jacques, to the business. The brothers expanded Cartier globally: Louis reigned in Paris, Pierre in New York and Jacques in London, ensuring their brand’s consistency at their branches across the world. The trio also brought in such talents as Charles Jacqueau and Jeanne Toussaint.


One of Cartier’s earliest major successes was the Santos de Cartier watch — one of the world's first modern wristwatches for men. (Previously, a large number of people were using only pocket watches.) Louis designed the timepiece in 1904 for his friend, popular Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, who wanted to be able to check the time more easily while flying.


Cartier’s other famous timepieces include the Tank watch, which was inspired by the linear form of military tanks during World War I, and the so-called mystery clocks. Invented by watchmaker and magician Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin and later crafted exclusively for Cartier in the house’s workshop by watchmaker Maurice Couët, the mystery clocks were so named because the integration of glass dials on which the clocks’ hands would seemingly float as well as structures that are hidden away within the base give the illusion that they operate without machinery.


On the jewelry side of the business, Cartier’s internationally renowned offerings include the Tutti Frutti collection, which featured colorful carved gemstones inspired by Jacques’s trip to India and grew in popularity during the Art Deco years; the panthère motif, which has been incorporated into everything from brooches to rings; and the Love bracelet, a minimal, modernist locking bangle reportedly inspired by medieval chastity belts.


While the Cartier family sold the business following the death of Pierre in 1964, the brand continues to innovate today, renewing old hits and creating new masterpieces. It’s certainly one of the most well known and internationally beloved jewelers in the world among clients both existing and aspirational.


On 1stDibs, find a growing collection of contemporary and vintage Cartier watches, rings, necklaces and other accessories.

About the SellerNew to 1stDibs
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Located in New York, NY

Siegelson is a world-renowned gallery offering rare collectible jewels. Third-generation gem and jewelry dealer Lee Siegelson has been credited with bridging the gap between art and jewelry design, in the process transforming estate jewelry into a vibrant part of the luxury goods and collectibles world. Focusing on a piece’s design rat...

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Established in 1920
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