Two green eyes that instantly connect. You watch on in a hazy trance as she moves, the piercing emerald always present. Is it fear? No. More an unending adoration for its wearer – the dazzling black and white instantly recognisable spotted motif wrapped effortlessly around their wrist. Top and tail meeting as one. Worn like armour, the Cartier Panthère is not only symbolic for the House of Cartier but also represents a predator, an Amazon, a mystery, a fantasy, a muse.
An emblem of sensuality in strength, the Panthère collection continues to surprise. Similarly to its guiding force of inspiration in nature, the unmistakable creative vitality and energy of the pieces continue to shine through more than 100 years later. Tight-jawed, geometric lines and a fierce expression – made for a woman who knew her mark and was never afraid to lean into it.
This vibrancy lived deep within the layers of Cartier's first Panthère woman – Jeanne Toussaint – Louis Cartier’s close collaborator and muse. Original, creative and demanding; she was not only an inventive source of inspiration, but also the brand's high jewellery creative director in 1933. Toussaint set the tone and others followed; her 1948 transformation of the magnetic creation quickly becoming the signature for a generation of bold women who saw themselves reflected in her.
It's this extension beyond the physical that Cartier's high jewellery – particularly the Panthère – bestows open its wearer. The two world's of feeling and craftsmanship collide to unveil a creation inspired by movement, beauty, ergonomics, volume and architecture with realism and elegance.
The Panthère's intricate and complex sculpture is a testament to this. Captured in any number of poses, the panther sprints, roars, leaps, rises, curls up or lazes. A dynamic freeze-frame that creates a three-dimensional vision of the wild cat in action; a new perspective created with each turn. Every detail of the Panthère is analysed and scrutinised to create a harmonious alignment; the search for balance at the centre of each iteration. When all is said and done, it is the jewel that must predominate; its wear, its drape and elegance.
The question, of course, is how this high jewellery signature achieves such a distinct sense of realism – all the way to the illusion of its silky coat. The magic lies in the Panthère's unique 'fur' setting – a technique that is specific to the Maison. This jewellery technique involves a close collaboration between the jeweller, the gem-cutter and the gem-setter; a relationship of trust and craftsmanship.
First, the jeweller sculpts the metal and produces the structure of the jewel; followed by the gem-cutter who cuts the precious or fine stones one by one, customising their size to create the panther skin motif. Finally, the gem-setter mounts the cut stone in its respective position and, using a precise technique, recreates the natural effect of the fur. Each stone is encircled by minuscule metal grains that secure it in place; these grains are then elongated and curved, transforming them into fur threads that evoke the animal's coat. An illusion to the eye that is indicative of Cartier's unparalleled knowledge and experience in the realm of high jewellery.
Supple, fun and mischievous, the Cartier Panthère is a game of cat and mouse. A coy acrobat that is acutely aware of its seduction; the statuesque Panthère is in full reign. A feline presence that is ready to pounce.