Behind the Scenes with Cartier’s Master Jewelers
What does it really takes to make a magnificent piece of haute joaillerie?
While technological advancements have infiltrated nearly every aspect of manufacturing, it seems time stands still inside the secretive hallways of Cartier’s artisan workshop located above its glamorous Parisian flagship store on Rue de la Paix. Here, in the atelier that Jacques Cartier established in 1929, 50 highly skilled jewelers rely only on their hands to transform stones and metal into imaginative, artistic, and graceful jewelry. This is where Cartier creates its haute joaillerie, or high jewelry—considered the brand’s most exceptional and elaborate pieces of art—using techniques and tools that have been applied to jewelry making for centuries. It can take weeks, months, and even years to collect the perfect stones and execute a single piece, and that is why only about 80 jewelry designs were made for this year’s Coloratura haute joaillerie collection, which was unveiled to press and VIP clients with great fanfare in Paris in July.
We had a rare visit to the workshop and followed the production of an exceptional Coloratura necklace made with more than 600 mouthwatering red rubellite beads, two large orangey-pink spinels, and numerous diamonds. After you follow this delicate process, step by step, you might want to see Rexhep Rexhepi’s Akrivia studio handcraft a watch or perhaps see fragile glass blown in the furnaces of the Saint-Louis Crystal workshop in France.