Cartiers Panther celebrates its sparkling centenary
We almost take it for granted that a panther is a perfectly normal jewellery motif, recognised around the world. But it wasn’t always this way. Her first appearance was subtle: in 1914 inky spots of onyx against diamonds flecked a Cartier wristwatch. Gradually the lithe feline gathered confidence and the elegant rebel made her debut in high society in 1948, on the lapel of none other than the Duchess of Windsor, style-setter of the age. Fully-formed, the majestic gold panther emerged with black enamel spots luxuriantly stretched out atop a golf ball sized 90 carat emerald cabochon brooch.
Since then the panther has been ever present at Cartier. Each rendition offers another facet of the panther’s rich character: demure, playful, protective, provocative, languid or taut as a spring set to explode into action. To celebrate one hundred years of this most elegant beast, Cartier presents a collection of 56 jewels devoted entirely to mademoiselle Panthère. Showing the range of her acting abilities, you can find her in many different moods, modes and poses. A highly stylised panther head hangs from a long chain, a golden tassel clenched in her mouth. Sometimes her presence is but a hint, a pattern of onyx and diamonds around a bangle. Almost talismanic in its force is the panther head ring. Its form is created out of criss-crossed bands of gold, emerald eyes slit, ready to pounce should you dare to harm its mistress.
Looking almost Pharaonic, a young panther in a magnificent diamond coat, dangles a paw over her perch, head slightly dropped, as if in thought. Crouching along a finger, the gold and onyx panther is about to spring its prey. In contrast, a diamond-set panther cub with pudgy paws clings to your finger, his emerald eyes taking in the new world.
Attention has been lavished on every miniscule detail of the panther. Designers at Cartier debate the space between her nose and eyes, the protrusion of her cheeks, the character expressed in her eyes of emeralds or garnets. Much thought is given to the exact angle of her ears and the draping of her paws. Anatomical correctness in sought in the arrangement of muscles be they languidly resting or tensed and rippling.
The fur-like texture of her diamond and onyx pelt is created using a technique known as the ‘fur’ setting that is unique to Cartier. The diamonds and precious stones are set into a honeycomb lattice and then surrounded by tiny hairs of gold that overall give the effect of a soft pelt. Onyx and sapphire spots are used almost like tromp l’oeil to give volume and shape to the panther. On larger pieces, that can take a year to complete from sketch through to wax carving to setting – her body is made in parts and assembled. But you wouldn’t expect any less, as the panther is, after all, the queen of Cartier.
Courtesy: The Telegraph (UK)