The Cartier brand had humble beginnings when it was established in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier in Paris, France. Louis-Francois had taken over the business from the jeweler Adolphe Picard, who assisted in moving the premises to a more prime location which was to serve Cartier well in the coming years. Cartier set up shop in the area immediately surrounding the Palais-Royal with the ambitious intention to become jeweler to the French imperial family. After gaining an aristocratic clientele composed of counts and international princes, Cartier’s ambition was realized and he received his first order from the Empress Eugenie in 1859. Cartier again upgraded his premises in Paris and continued as a purveyor of luxury items to the imperial family and other members of the international elite. The business was run as a family trade, with Louis-Francois’ son Alfred also working in the company. The brand was not confined merely to the crafting of bijouterie and haute joaillerie, however, the firm produced objets d’art, elaborate clocks and silver sets.
Upon the death of Louis-Francois, the firm was taken over by Alfred. Where the business might have faltered amidst the climate of economic instability and the fierce competition from other jewelers (including Boucheron), Alfred held on to his father’s legacy and expanded the firms recognition further. The latter half of the 19th century was marked by a renewal of interest in Neoclassical design and Cartier was instrumental in furthering the style by crafting intricate diadems, necklaces, bracelets and other diamond-set items of fine jewelry.
Cartier jewelry continues to be desired for its sophistication and couture elegance by an exclusive international clientele. Many of the designs have become iconic across the world including the Love collection and Panther motif as well as the instantly recognizable watches such as the Santos, Tank, and Ballon Bleu.