Cartier Magician – A Compelling Book by the Art Historian Francois Chaille


The jewellery house Cartier was founded in Paris almost 170 years ago and has yet to lose any of its magic. By contrast with many other brands, it’s never slowed down and continues to develop from day to day, evidenced by the opening of new boutiques across the whole world. The brand’s designers continue to stun us with their creative ideas which are characterised by entirely new and original collections of both everyday and high jewellery. The boutique’s latest collection of high jewellery art, Magicien, was released this year together with an eponymous book.

Cartier Magicien was written by art historian François Chaille and numbers 272 pages dedicated to the new jewellery collection and Cartier’s artistry. Reading a magazine article about these pieces to value their worth is, in my view, not enough: a coffee table book is better at conveying the weight that should be given to these valuable jewels, of which there are more than a hundred in this collection.



Convertible necklaces, cuff earrings, wide bracelets with large gemstones, trinket boxes cut from ornamental stones, watches with the legendary panther and even an evening purse with an alligator have all become reflections of the heights which the jewellery maison has reached.  The virtuoso mastery of jewellery techniques at Cariter is very accurately described by the French writer and film director Jean Cocteau in a single phrase: “Cartier, a subtle magician, who captures fragments of the moon on a thread of sun.”


Cartier-Book


In Cartier Magicien, François writes: “Cartier’s art always converges on one ultimate goal, without which beauty would lose its grace: to impart life to the inanimate. A jewel is only truly successful if the inert materials composing it begin to stir, breathe, smile, and converse once they are assembled. This magic unites the living gem to whomever wears it. The charm of its precious stones and materials takes the wearer on a voyage beyond mere appearances, into a world as marvellous as it is mysterious.” It is these words that confirm my theory: once in a while, we don’t choose jewellery – it chooses us. It sometimes happens that you’re looking at and trying on jewellery and then you can’t stop thinking about it; owning it becomes a life necessity. How do you explain this magic? The answer to that question can be found in the book.


The four chapters (The Magical Art, The Magic of Light, The Magic of Design and The Magic of Reality), as well as the 215 magnificent illustrations, allow you to plunge into the magical world of Cartier. In The Magical Art, the author takes you on a journey to the past, to the time when the magical attraction of the jewellery maison became universally evident. Then, you’re transported to the present and with each chapter you begin to understand the this intriguing collection. In The Magic of Light, jewellery made of variously cut diamonds is analysed: rose cuts, beads, v-shaped briolettes, stones of both traditional and modern cuts in which light is reflected and flickers. The Magic of Design focuses on all kinds of design decisions and how they came about. Indeed, Cartier’s Magicien collection includes transformable pieces and other work with unbelievably complicated designs. In the last chapter, the author turns his attention to the flora and fauna depicted by the jewels. After reading The Magic of Reality, you’ll understand what it is about nature that has so captivated, captivates and will continue to captivate Cartier’s designers.


The publishing house Flammarion has already worked with François Chaille for some time. Besides Cartier Magician, the author has also written several other books about the famous jewellery maison: The Cartier Collection, Cartier Royal and Cartier: The Tank Watch, Timeless Style to name a few.


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