Cartier first began creating Indian jewellery in the 1900s. In 1911, Monsieur Jacques, as he was known by his employees, set sail for the subcontinent aboard the Polynesia in search of the finest gems.
The Maison had recourse to trusted suppliers in Delhi, Calcutta and Bombay. India was a revelation; its gems a marvel. Fluted and gadrooned beads, rubies, sapphires and emeralds carved into leaves, flowers and berries – all typical of the Indian jewellery tradition – inspired Cartier to create never-before-seen colour combinations: red, green and blue.
These carved gems resurrected the penchant for floral motifs seen in the Mughal dynasty that reigned over northern India until the 18th century. The Mughals indulged their love of adornment and precious stones in the imperial workshops of Rajasthan, where with unrivalled skill Indian artists practised their unique techniques in relief cutting and hollowing out emeralds, sapphires and spinels, also known as “Balas rubies”
Illustrious Clients of the Tutti Frutti, Fashion Icons and Trailblazers
‘Foliage’ jewellery – as it is described in the Cartier archives – broke with the fashion of the day. This reinterpretation of the traditional codes of Indian jewellery met with a rapturous reception throughout the Art Deco period. Gems intertwined in wondrous forms.
Bracelets, wristwatches and brooches swooned with berries, flowers and branches bearing fruit. The luscious profusion made for a glittering garden. Coloured gemstones engraved in botanical forms were mounted on platinum amongst a sprinkling of diamonds.
The craze for this ‘savage’ jewellery, as it was considered at the time, gripped the globe, appealing to a refined clientele with an appreciation for arts and fashion. Two of the world’s best-dressed ladies, Lady Mountbatten (1901-1960) and Daisy Fellowes (1890-1962), were proponents of the Tutti Frutti style.
In October 1928, the wife of the Viceroy of India, Lady Mountbatten, acquired a bandeau tiara made by Cartier London that transformed into two bracelets. Since 2008, the historic jewel budding with emeralds, rubies and sapphires, has been housed in the Jewellery Gallery collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Fashion icon Daisy Fellowes, daughter of Duke Decazes and sewing machine heiress Isabelle Singer, commissioned from Cartier in 1936 a spectacular ‘Hindu’ necklace. This trembling overgrowth of leaves of ruby, emerald and sapphire owes its incredible suppleness to an articulated platinum structure. Fellowes memorably wore the necklace to the ‘ball of the century’ hosted by Carlos de Beistegui at the Palazzo Labia in Venice in 1951. The necklace has since joined other exquisite pieces in the Cartier Collection that tours the world’s finest museums.
Timeless style takes a name
It was not until the 1970s that the creative vein formerly known as ‘Hindu’ began to be referred to as Tutti Frutti. By then a Cartier signature, it was patented by the Maison in 1989. An icon of Cartier style, Tutti Frutti inspires High Jewellery collections to this day.
Rajasthan Set, the Eternal Sparkle of the Tutti Frutti Style (2016)
The Rajasthan High Jewellery necklace created in 2016 is named after one of the most splendid States of the Mughal Empire. The largest High Jewellery necklace ever produced in the Tutti Frutti style, it showcases a 136.97-carat carved Colombian emerald of a slightly convex cushion shape. The spectacular gem is engraved with a dainty floral motif.
The choker comprises 46 melon-cut emerald beads sourced from the Panshir mines of Afghanistan. The modular bib of the necklace is composed of rubies, sapphires and emeralds carved in organic forms and engraved with floral motifs. Matched to the necklace is a ring set with a 20.57-carat fluted emerald.
The Maharajah Necklace, The Regal Opulence of the Great Indian Necklaces (2019)
Paying homage to the great ceremonial necklaces of the Maharajahs, this piece showcases an exceptional assembly of emeralds, set in accordance with ancient Indian know-how. For this latest exploration of the Tutti Frutti style, which showcases masterful cutting work, Cartier devised a dynamic composition in which colour contributes rhythm and tempo, similar to the notes of a musical piece. The remarkable creation perpetuates the great Cartier tradition of transformable jewellery, revealing several ways of wearing the necklace and two variations for the earrings.
The engraved emeralds brought together by Cartier are made all the more unique as the pendant’s cluster form is extremely rare in High Jewellery, with the necklace ending in a voluminous tassel of 19 gemstones. The ensemble is completed by two emeralds totalling 86.96 carats and a central stone of 43.73 carats. All three are sourced from Colombia, one of the world’s most renowned gem-mining regions. Their impressive weight is accentuated further still by the colour, brilliant intensity and delicate crystallisation of their combined forms. They are joined by an 18.58-carat hexagonal engraved Zambian emerald, a 23.24-carat engraved Burmese ruby, and eight Burmese ruby cabochons totalling 46.34 carats.
Cartier is able to continuously pursue new creative challenges and produce universally beautiful objects thanks to the combined creative perseverance of its designers, craftsmen and engineers. Together, they are more than the sum of different professions; Cartier’s expertise is born of a permanent conversation between these separate crafts. This living resource is continually reinvented to overcome obstacles, defy conventions and promote beauty by unconditionally and eternally pushing back boundaries. It is inscribed in a culture of fruitful exchange and punctuated by unexpected encounters that consolidate
knowledge and skill.