A few weeks ago, I was extremely fortunate to get my hands on a book, that I thought was an absolute eye-opener: ‘The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire by Francesca Cartier Brickell’. A direct descendant of the Cartier family (the great-granddaughter of the youngest of the brothers), Francesca, through her book provides a captivating insight into the Cartier family, including the three brothers who turned their grandfather’s humble Parisian jewellery store into a global luxury icon.
The Cartiers follows the jewellery dynasty from the founding of the firm in the early 19th century through to its sale in the 1970s. It also offers a behind-the-scenes look at the firm’s most iconic jewels—the notoriously cursed Hope Diamond, the Romanov emeralds, the classic panther pieces—and the long line of stars from the worlds of fashion, film, and royalty who wore them. The book is also a compelling family story with anecdotes on Louis Cartier, the visionary designer who created the first men’s wristwatch to help an aviator friend tell the time without taking his hands from the controls of his flying machine; Pierre Cartier, the master dealmaker who bought the New York headquarters on Fifth Avenue for a double-stranded natural pearl necklace; and Jacques Cartier, the globe-trotting gemstone expert whose travels to India gave Cartier access to the world’s best rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, inspiring the celebrated “Tutti-Frutti” jewellery.
Francesca’s research for The Cartiers came from hundreds of letters and correspondence saved by generations of the Cartier family, that opened up a bygone era of glamour, with clients that included King Edward II, Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia, Coco Chanel, the Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Queen Elizabeth. These letters launched Francesca on a decade-long quest to put together the missing pieces of her family’s history. She even traveled the world researching her family’s history, tracking down those connected with her ancestors and discovering long-lost pieces of the puzzle along the way. Through her book, she even reveals never-before-told dramas, romances, intrigues, betrayals, and more.
Published in the two-hundredth anniversary year of the birth of the dynasty’s founder, Louis-François Cartier, this book is a magnificent, definitive, epic social history shown through the deeply personal lens of one legendary family.
Francesca Cartier Brickell is a graduate in English literature from Oxford University and a direct descendant of the Cartier family. She is a sought- after international lecturer on Cartier’s illustrious history, and has given talks for major auction houses, museums, and societies. The Cartiers is the result of years of the author’s independent research into her family and the business they founded. Francesca lives with her husband and children in London and the South of France.