Pride of the Panther: The Cartier Panthère Motif

Bracelet Panthère de Cartier

The panther, symbol of grace and power, has inspired diverse artists for millenia – from the early cave paintings of Chauvet-Pont d’Arc in France through ancient Egypt into modern times. In early part of the twentieth century, the house of Cartier began to take a special interest in the panther as a design motif. Its story goes back to 1917 when Louis Cartier gifted a cigarette case with panther imagery to his designer friend, Jeanne Toussaint who immediately fell in love with the magnificent cat. When Louis Cartier appointed her to be artistic director of Cartier in 1933, Toussaint quickly set to work in popularising the panther by producing a highly desirable range of panthere jewelry. Under Toussaint’s guidance, Cartier introduced the first panther ring in 1935, made of yellow gold and black enamel. Panther rings have since become a Cartier staple.

Rich in history and elegance, the Cartier panther may be the classiest cat ever represented in high jewelry. The first three-dimensional panther came in the form of a 116-carat emerald brooch, made for the Duchess of Windsor in 1948. In the following years, the duchess added another panther brooch with purple onyx, and a diamond and onyx panther bracelet, which was auctioned for £4.5 million ($7.4 million) in 2010. In the words of Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s current image and heritage director, this piece remains “without equal, owing to its original idea, its craftsmanship, and of course, its famous owners”.

A Sotheby’s employee holds the Duchess of Windsor’s 1952 bracelet before auction. London, 2010.

In 1949, the Duchess of Windsor acquired this diamond and sapphire panther pin from Cartier. The panther is crouched in a life like pose on a large perfect round Kashmir cabochon star sapphire weighing 152.35 carats. This panther pin was one of the Duchess’ favorite pieces which she frequently wore.

In the 1950s and 60s Cartier created many of the pieces which would still be recognisable today – brooches, bangles, rings, necklaces. Clients for these pieces included The Aga Khan and Opera star Maria Callas. As can be seen in the photo gallery, the panther continues to reign as a distinctly recognizable Cartier icon, as it been since the time of Jeanne Toussaint.

The Panthère Royale watch-satin finished dial 36mm white gold set with brilliant-cut diamonds and black lacquer, Set in a three-dimensional sculpture, this miniature bas-relief recalls one of the creature’s earliest appearances on a sapphire brooch created for the Duchess of Windsor in 1949.

Necklace – white gold, one 194.24-carat cabochon-cut rubellite, rubellite and moon quartz beads, emeralds, onyx, brilliant-cut diamonds.

Necklace – 18K white gold, set with 491 brilliant-cut diamonds totalling 3.39 carats, a faceted onyx bead, emeralds and onyx.

Panter on an 18K white gold, ring set with 292 brilliant-cut diamonds (1.63 carats), emeralds and onyx.

Bracelet – 18K yellow gold, onyx, black lacquer, set with two tsavorite garnets.

Bracelet – 18K white gold, black toile de moire, set with 581 brilliant-cut diamonds (4.13 carats), emeralds and onyx strap.

Ring – 95‰ platinum, one cushion-shaped sapphire, 356 brilliant-cut diamonds totalling 3.45 carats, sapphires, emeralds, onyx.

The Pixelage necklance in polished onxyes, white and coloured diamonds.

The Pixelage Necklace conjures up the familiar image of the panther with a stylised play on the feline’s coat. Polished onyxes evoke the marbling of the fur, while white, yellow and orange diamonds represent the thickness of the pelt, with its golden reflections highlighted by three golden topazes for a total of 27.34 carats.

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