- cf. Vogue, October 15, 1956 (cover).
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.
The opulence of the Art Deco movement faded with the Great Depression of the 1930s and the outbreak of World War II in 1939. As with World War I, women were encouraged to enter the work force to fill the vacancies left by men joining the war. Fashion changed to accommodate the new way of life and wartime shortages. A silhouette emerged composed of skirts and fitted jackets that was later adapted into dresses with rounded shoulders, a heart-shaped neckline, and a slender waist. Christian Dior designed a collection that became to be known as the New Look, he recounted, “I wanted my dresses to be built and molded round the curves of a woman’s body, and to stylize its contours.” The bold gold jewelry of the late 1930s and early 1940s complemented this new fashion.
Always on the forefront of design, Cartier embraced this new aesthetic and created jewels that were elegant and bold like this gold bracelet. Constructed as a series of voluminous polished links, the bracelet is effortlessly chic. The simple design is classic in thought but also exaggerated in size and evokes modern technological advances in machinery and industrial chain link fencing. Considered as one of the most popular jewels of the 1940s, bracelets during this time were mostly made of gold (due to wartime restrictions), always bulky, and sometimes set with gemstones. This style of twisted link bracelet is a classic example of 1940s elegance and can be worn alone or with a stack of other bracelets making it extremely versatile.
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. All-gold bracelets such as this one from the 1940s are difficult to find today, and the modern versions cannot compare in craftsmanship. This gold link bracelet by Cartier, Paris, is a superb example of impeccable workmanship that will forever be popular and incredibly chic.