With the new collection, Cartier set itself a very ambitious goal: “To rise above reality in order to create it anew and to open the way to a form of beauty that transcends nature itself.” As the realistic world seems to dissipate in the fog, jewels are depicted as abstract visions in which streams of water, animals and plants intertwine to become one.
Traditionally, the annual launch of new high jewellery collections is timed to coincide with Paris Haute Couture Week, and this year was no exception. The French Maison’s [SUR] NATUREL collection is comprised of rings, earrings and watches, but it is the stunning necklaces that stole the show. One of them, entitled HEMIS, uses opals that appear to have been plucked from the bed of a serene river to create an abstract vision of Cartier’s iconic panther. A close collaboration between the house’s designers, cutters and gem experts, the opals, which have been polished to mimic the tumbled curves of a pebble, are transformed into the black cat’s spots. With colour variations that range from blue to purple-grey, some of the opals possess a slight translucency, while others swim with different colours just below the surface.
All the elements of the “lattice” style necklace are interconnected by a series of minuscule links, giving it great flexibility. At the centre of the design, an elegantly shaped kunzite possesses an intense pink colour, shot through with purple veins. Weighing an impressive 71.80 carats, it is completely devoid of inclusions visible to the naked eye. The earrings echo the necklace and feature a similarly impressive set of opals. As is clearly visible in the HEMIS necklace and earrings, the main purpose of this collection, it seems, is to strike a harmonious natural balance and visual equilibrium between the different stones.
The TILLANDSIA necklace is inspired by the tillandsia plant, the roots of which are often exposed. This wonderful piece joins Cartier’s bouquet of nature-inspired jewels, which also feature cactuses and orchids. Through a stylised, asymmetrical design, Cartier captures the dominant features of this evergreen plant – its thorns and rounded, water-filled extremities – and its soft and subtle hue, which is interpreted in two oval shaped green beryls weighing 83.23 and 81.09 carats respectively, combined with accents of shimmering pink rutilated quartz and sunshine-bright yellow diamonds.
The SINOPÉ necklace is inspired by the different states of water, with the undulating lines reflecting the crystal purity of ice floes before transforming into the unconstrained excitement of crashing waves. These images are conveyed by artfully set colourless diamonds alongside an exquisite collection of five cornflower blue Madagascan sapphires.
Tracing the edge of the necklace, deep-blue lapis lazuli emphasises the necklace’s organic curves and highlights the skill of Cartier’s gem cutters: a single wrong move and the lapis would have shattered. Once again, one finds evidence of the skilled craftsmanship that defines Cartier on the accompanying ring: here, the lapis lazuli lines are repeated many times over.
The Maison’s signature black, white and green colour combination appears in the [SUR] NATUREL collection in the form of a wonderfully abstract piece: the ORPHEIS necklace. Designed in such a way that the diamonds are staggered, with onyx triangles mimicking the creature’s spine, Cartier’s craftsmen have captured the scaly beauty of snakeskin whilst creating the illusion of movement.
An extraordinary 53.94 carat intense blue-green Zambian emerald dominates the piece: an unusual rectangular cabochon with rounded sides, chosen because it resembles the shape of a snake’s head – the original source of inspiration for the design as a whole.
In order to realise fully the creation of this abstract Cartier universe, a special interaction between designers and craftsmen was required. To define this process there is a special term, savoir-faire, which translates as something more than mere know-how or skill. This French phrase can best be translated as the “secret of production” and it is thanks to Cartier’s exceptional savoir-faire that the masterpieces in the [SUR] NATUREL collection can be admired forever, like the eternal beauty of flowing water or that of a blossoming flower.