- cf. Bennett, David, and Daniela Mascetti. Understanding Jewellery.Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors’ Club, 1994, p. 313.
- cf. Chaille, François. The Cartier Collection: Jewelry. Paris: Éditions Flammarion, 2004, pp. 189, 191, and 192.
- cf. Chazal, Gilles. The Art of Cartier. Paris: Musée du Petit Palais, 1989, p. 140, ills. 287 and 288.
- cf. Tennenbaum, Suzanne, and Janet Zapata. Jeweled Garden: A Colorful History of Gems, Jewels, and Nature. New York: The Vendome Press, 2006, p. 84.
Cartier was founded in Paris in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier. His three grandsons, Louis, Pierre, and Jacques, built the house into a famous international jewelry empire serving royalty, Hollywood stars, and socialites. Cartier has created some of the most important jewelry and objects of art of the twentieth century with many iconic designs such as mystery clocks, Tutti Frutti jewelry and the Panthère line. In 1983, The Cartier Collection was established with the objective of acquiring important pieces that trace the firm’s artistic evolution. Today, Cartier has 200 stores in 125 countries.
Jewelry set with carved precious gemstones imported from India became popular in the mid 1920s. Emeralds, the preferred stone, as well as rubies and sapphires, were cut into blossom, leaf, and berry shapes inspired by the Islamic flower motifs favored by Mogul emperors. In his trips to India, Jacques Cartier returned with carved gemstones that were then fashioned into bracelets, brooches, necklaces, earrings, and clasps on evening bags. When first introduced, the style incorporating these carved gemstones was referred as leaf-work, but the colorful jewels have come to be known as Tutti Frutti.
The first bracelet in the Tutti Frutti style was made for Cartier’s exhibit at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. It was described in the Cartier records as a “wide bracelet, creeping branch with leaves of colored stones.” The design of the Tutti Frutti bracelets evokes the meandering vine in Chinese ceramics in which the vine begins at one end and continues to the other end of the pattern. Cartier replicated this design with engraved leaves, flowers, and berries. Each bracelet was designed in a different manner. No two are the same. They were purchased by the most fashionable women, including Mrs. Cole Porter, wife of the famous composer, and Daisy Fellowes, a socialite who owned the famous Hindu necklace. These examples as well as several brooches and bracelet-watches in the Tutti Frutti style are now part of the Cartier Collection.
This bracelet is a refined example of Cartier’s jewelry in the Tutti Frutti style. Diamond vines sprouting carved emerald leaves and ruby flowers grow from flowerpots at either end and meet at a central emerald. Black enamel outlines the vine as well as decorates the flowerpots. This is the only known Cartier bracelet in which the Tutti Frutti design is delineated by a frame. The clasp on this bracelet is artfully conceived with a diamond-set square into which the clasp is closed. Three cabochon rubies adorn the clasp with another on the tongue. When closed, it forms a square, characteristic of the Art Deco paradigm of rectilinear design. This bracelet is more than just a beautiful jewel. It is one of the best Tutti Frutti bracelets from the Cartier workshops. It is work of art on a par with the finest decorative arts of the period.