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Cartier | Success Story of the French Luxury Brand



Cartier is a French luxury goods multi-industry company. It is famous for designing, manufacturing, and selling top-quality jewelry, watches, sunglasses, fragrances, bags, and homeware. Founded in 1847, Cartier achieved worldwide recognition for its superlative craftsmanship and iconic designs. Forbes has listed it on Most Valuable Brands List. The brand operates over 200 stores in 125 countries. Cartier has provided its customers with top-notch handmade pieces for over a century. 


Cartier is one of the most prestigious luxury brands in the world. Louis-François Cartier founded the brand in 1847. Headquartered in Paris, France, the brand provides its clientele with the most luxurious handmade goods. A-list celebrities like Kate Middleton, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle, Princess Diana, Jennifer Aniston, Zendaya, and Rami Malek have endorsed the brand. Moreover, it was the first brand in the world to use platinum in jewelry making. In 2021, the brand was valued at $12.2 billion with a revenue of $6.2 billion. 

Founding Years

At age 29, Louis-François Cartier established Cartier in 1847 in Rue Montorgueil, Paris, France. He took over the jewelry shop of skillful craftsman Adolphe Picard. Within a decade, the workshop became a popular name in the city. In 1859, Louis opened Cartier’s first boutique. He designed several iconic pieces. From fashionable wristwatches to wall clocks, Louis created it all. Gradually, the business started gaining recognition across the continent. In 1856, Napoleon Bonaparte’s niece Princess Mathilde bought her first handmade product from the brand. Later, in 1874, Louis’ son Alfred took over the business. He wanted to expand it across Europe. Alfred started introducing the brand to Europe’s royal houses. King Edward VII of the UK loved the brand’s intricate designs. 

The 1900s

Alfred Cartier, son of the founder, with his sons Louis, Pierre, and Jacques.

In 1899, Alfred handed the company to his three sons, Louis, Pierre, and Jacques. Alfred had successfully established the brand as the Royal Houses’ favorite. However, the ones who made the brand global phenomena were his sons. The company’s growth went uphill during the late 1800s. Alfred’s sons knew they would handle the family business from a young age. As a result, when they joined the company, they aspired to make Cartier an international jewelry powerhouse. In 1904, the brand created a flat wristwatch with a square bezel for men. It was called the Santos watch. It was named after Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian aviator who complained to Louis about the inconvenience of using pocket watches during air travel. Louis designed the iconic Santos watch, which became an instant hit. Alberto and many other customers loved the watch’s sleek and convenient design. 

In 1909, Pierre, Louis’ younger brother, opened Cartier’s first branch in New York City. Later, the company expanded its business to London and Saint Petersburgh. In 1917, Louis created the iconic Tank watch. The design took inspiration from the Renault tanks on the first World War’s battlefields. Louis’ youngest brother Jacques took over the company’s networking operations. He traveled across England and India to connect with the flourishing royal houses. Moreover, he brought various Eastern-inspired designs to the brand. Many Indian-style colored gems are still a part of Cartier’s jewelry. Later, Jacques managed the brand’s London workshops. They grew immensely during the reign of King George V and Queen Mary.

Wider Recognition

In 1942, Louis and Jacques both died. Now, Pierre was in charge of the extensively growing company. During the 1950s, Cartier became a celebrity favorite. Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Maria Felix, and Gloria Swanson wore Cartier’s jewelry in their movies. In 1956, actress Grace Kelly wore the brand’s diamond-platinum tiara with a 58-carat diamond necklace at her wedding. Louis, Jacques, and Pierre’s sons ran the business until Pierre died in 1964. Later, the sons sold the businesses. The brand continued to thrive in the post-war world.1969 marked the release of the Love bracelet. It became one of Cartier’s most famous products. Throughout the 1900s, the brand made significant progress in jewelry and watch-making.

Cartier in the Modern Era

In the 21st century, Cartier continued to develop elegant and top-notch products. The brand manufactures its watches in Switzerland. Over 1,000 workers assemble them by hand. With the help of precise tools, the workers regulate the mechanical system of the watch. In 2004, the company opened its flagship store in Shanghai. 2007 marked the launch of the watch Ballon Bleu and women’s handbag Marcello. Both took the world by storm and became classics. The following year, India welcomed Cartier’s first standalone store in its capital Delhi. Everyone cherished Cartier’s luxurious handmade goods, from Princess Diana to Kylie Jenner. The brand manufactures leather goods, perfumes, sunglasses, homeware, and accessories in the modern era.

Also read: Balmain | Success Story of the French Luxury Brand

Who founded Cartier?

Louis-François Cartier founded Cartier in 1847 in Rue Montorgueil, Paris, France. He overtook the jewelry shop of his master and skillful craftsman, Adolphe Picard. Louis established a flourishing jewelry-making business within a decade. Later, his son Alfred took over the company and expanded it. 

Which Cartier watch is the most iconic?

Cartier’s Tank watch is one of the most iconic watches. Renault tanks used during the first World War have inspired its design. Louis Cartier designed the watch in 1917. It has an elegant and modern look which makes it popular. 

Who owns Cartier?

Compagnie Financière Richemont S.A owns Cartier. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Richemont is one of the world’s most prominent luxury goods companies. It acquired Cartier in 1998. 

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