Cartier, Inc.

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Cartier, Inc.

founded: 1847

Contact Information:

headquarters: 5th ave. and 52nd st.
new york, ny 10022 phone: (212)753-0111 fax: (212)753-7250


Cartier is one of the world's leading luxury goods companies. The company designs, manufactures, and distributes jewelry, watches, fragrance, pens, lighters, silver, and crystal. The House of Cartier is identified with quality, prestige, and history, and has served as crown jeweler to 19 royal houses.

Since its beginning in 1847, Cartier has been closely identified with jewels and other objects of exceptional quality. Cartier is known for its use of rare materials, unique designs, and timeless creations representing status and mystique. Its customers range from members of royalty and celebrities to young women seeking a distinctive engagement ring. Cartier's success was founded in family tradition, loyalty, and the quest for innovative objects. Writing in Vogue, Joan Juliet Buck asserted that "Cartier has set the standard of luxury."


Cartier is a family business that has no intention of ever going public. In 1989, President of Cartier International Alain Perrin explained: "I consider a luxury company going public a big risk, unless you need the money to fund an acquisition," adding that "if you are well managed, you can fund your expansion yourself." In 1998 Cartier did in fact expand with its own resources and remained a private company.

According to Perrin, the company's annual sales have increased an average of 20 to 25 percent over the past 10 to 12 years, and most sales are in jewelry and watches. It is estimated that the company's annual sales are $120 million. Cartier's high-end jewelry represents about 22 percent of the group's revenues.


The House of Cartier was established in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier, who took over Maitre Adolphe Picard's jewelry workshop in Paris at the age of 31. The establishment was moved in 1853, and Cartier began developing a private clientele. During the rule of Napoleon III, a period of unrest ended in Paris with the resumption of many elaborate celebrations and balls that widened the market for luxury goods and further helped the house of Cartier to expand. The Emperor's first cousin, Princess Mathilde, also contributed to Cartier's growth, resulting in another move to a more prestigious Paris location in 1859. Louis-Francois attracted the notice of several members of royalty, including Empress Eugenie. His friendship with Worth, the great couturier, helped establish many other influential and long-lasting connections.

Cartier turned over the business in 1874 to his son Louis-Francois Alfred, who then made his eldest son Louis a partner in 1898. In 1899 Cartier made its final move in Paris to the prestigious 13 rue de la Paix, where Alfred entrusted the House of Cartier to his three sons—Louis-Joseph, Jacques-Thedule, and Pierre-Camille. Recognized as the world's premier jewelry retailer, Cartier continued to cultivate an elite clientele, and the three brothers began searching worldwide for innovative products and materials.

At his brother Louis's request, Pierre traveled to Russia in search of the finest enamels and hard stone animals in an attempt to compete with Peter Carl Fabérge. Relationships with the United States were strengthened in 1910 when Cartier sold the "Hope" diamond to Mrs. Evalyn McLean of New York. That sale aided in establishing connections with wealthy financiers and industrialists such as the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Goulds, and Fords. From London, Jacques searched for the finest pearls in the Persian Gulf and traveled to India to fulfill orders from Indian maharajahs who wanted their multi-colored treasures reset by Cartier.

Although wristwatches had been in stock since 1888, they became popular only with Cartier's introduction of the Santos watch in 1911. The prototype model was a gift from Louis Cartier to Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. Other products introduced by Cartier were the Tank watch and the "Love Bracelet." Cartier was extremely creative during Louis's management. He revolutionized the industry until his death in 1942, the same year his younger brother Jacques also died. The company was then taken over by Robert Hocq, who developed new product lines of watches, leather goods, and perfumes.


Cartier introduces many objects that reflect contemporary ideas and trends, as well as the demands of its exclusive clientele. In 1902 Cartier workshops operated at fever pitch to accommodate orders from royal courts all over the world for the coronation of Edward VII. In 1930, an Indian maharajah bought 250 Cartier clocks and watches and hired someone whose sole responsibility was to keep them all wound. Inspired by a watch that had been damaged in an apparent car wreck, in 1967 Cartier created the Crash Watch, which exhibited a distorted dial and subsequently became a collector's item. The introduction of Cartier's Tank Française Watch in 1996 prompted watchmaker Jean-Charles de Castelbajac to say, "If all tanks were made by Cartier, we would have the time to live in peace!"

Cartier introduces new collections every two years at a showing or premiere. For its "Jewels of the Nile" exhibition in New York, the store was completely decorated in an Egyptian theme, complete with a pyramid and two live peacocks. This jewelry collection was a more modern version of Louis Joseph Cartier's designs from the early 1900s.

FAST FACTS: About Cartier, Inc.

Ownership: Cartier is a privately held company.

Officers: Main-Dominique Perrin, Chmn. & CEO of Cartier International; Micheline Kanoui, Director of Design; Simon J. Critchell, Pres. & CEO of Cartier, Inc.

Employees: approximately 300

Chief Competitors: Cartier, Inc. competes with other designers within the luxury jewelry industry. Some primary competitors include: Dior; Chanel; Tiffany & Co.; Goldman, Sachs & Co.; and House of Winston.

Cartier's boutiques are as luxurious as its products. The Beverly Hills boutique features a limestone and Vermont verde marble facade with windows framed in brass. Features include a fine jewelry salon with oak panels, carved moldings, and soft peach ceiling lights. During the boutique's opening in 1992, clients were invited for champagne.

In 1995 Cartier introduced So Pretty de Cartier, the first perfume offered since its very first fragrance, Les Must, was launched in 1981. Although Cartier has historically avoided advertising, CEO Simon Critchell promoted the new product with an extensive $2-million campaign.


Cartier credits its success to "talented colleagues"—in particular, Jeanne Toussaint, whom Louis referred to as a "trend watcher, a style setter, a woman who understood luxury and how to make it synonymous with Cartier." As a closely held company, Cartier guards its proprietary secrets closely and deals decisively with counterfeiters, once crushing fake Cartier watches on a Los Angeles street with a steamroller. Roberta Naas reported that "Cartier is so often emulated by others that it has imposed strict locked-door policies in its design houses and has started stringent anticounterfeit efforts in the watch world." Cartier has two jewelry design houses, one for the more modern line and the other, whose location is top secret, for the "important" jewelry.

Cartier's most timeless pieces are made of platinum, whose use in fine jewelry it pioneered in 1898. In February 1997, The Consumer Benchmark Survey revealed that "platinum has become the metal of choice for most innovative and sought-after luxury jewelry designers and the high-end jewelry purchaser . . . Of manufacturers polled, 96 percent had increased the use of platinum in their top lines, and 94 percent added new platinum designs to their lines within the past nine months."

In 1997 Cartier celebrated its 150th Anniversary with the introduction of several new product lines. As evidence of Cartier's standing as the most famous French jeweler, the company became a member of the "Ven-dome Luxury Group" in 1993. The group was presided over by Joseph Kanoui, who joined Cartier after Robert Hocq's death in 1979, and included Cartier, Alfred Dun-hill, Montblac, Piaget, Baume and Mercier, Karl Lager-feld, Chloe, Sulka, Hackett, Seeger, and James Purdy and Sons.


In the late 1990s signature lines were keeping Cartier's traditions alive. Often found in necklaces, bracelets, and watches, its Panther motif (known as la Panthere in French) brings together the most luxurious metals, precious stones, and artistic creations in some of the rarest pieces of jewelry in the world. The famous Panter design was a tribute to Jeanne Toussaint and her influence in the company.

CHRONOLOGY: Key Dates for Cartier, Inc.


The House of Cartier is established by Louis-Francois Cartier


Cartier moves to a more prestigious Paris location after gaining several members of the royalty as customers


Louis-Francois Alfred, Cartier's son, takes over the company


Alfred passes the company, recognized as the world's premiere jewelry retailer, to his three sons: Louis-Joseph, Jacques-Thedule, and Pierre-Camille


Sells the "Hope" diamond to Evalyn McLean of New York, establishing contacts with the wealthy American elite


The Santos watch is introduced and popularizes the Cartier watch line


Louis and Jacques both die; Robert Hocq takes over the company


Cartier designs a watch inspired by a watch damaged in a car crash called the Crash Watch; it becomes an instant collector's item


Les Must, the company's first perfume, is introduced


Cartier becomes a member of the Vendome Luxury Group


Cartier celebrates its 150th anniversary by releasing Cartier Privé


Throughout the years, Cartier has introduced several limited-edition specialty items. In honor of its 150th anniversary, the company released three successful series of unique, rare objects inspired by its private archives. Editions began in late 1996 and continued through 1997, with pieces released in quantities of 3, 150, and 1,847 to represent the 3 bands of its popular "Rolling Ring," the 150th anniversary, and the year that Cartier was founded, 1847. This collection, called Cartier Privé, includes jewelry, watches, pens, spectacles, and a broad range of chain purses with jeweled clasps.


In 1993, Cartier objects were displayed as part of an auction of singer Elton John's personal collection organized by Sotheby's; proceeds were donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Perrin administers the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, which supports, collects, and exhibits contemporary art from around the world annually. Proceeds from a showing of Cartier's jewels from the 1920s and 1930s at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City were donated to the Society for the Advancement of Education. In 1997 Cartier donated $25,000 to the Crystal Charity, a children's philanthropy. In addition, Cartier donated a $26,600 watch to be raffled off at the annual Charity Ball. Cartier often makes substantial contributions to many other charitable organizations.


Cartier has 165 boutiques on five continents. The company markets its products through a global network of 179 Cartier stores and 8,000 authorized dealers in 123 countries. In addition to 6 stores in Paris, there are 21 stores in the United States, 3 in Canada, and 6 throughout the Caribbean. The newest stores are in Barcelona; Buenos Aires; Moscow; Taiwan; and Boca Raton, Florida.



"150 years of history and romance." cartier's 1997 press kit, 1997.

buck, joan juliet. "cartier: the jewel in the crown . . ." vogue, february 1986.

"cartier launches jewels of the nile." wwd, 30 june 1989.

denny, godfrey. "pierre haquet resigns as cartier director." wwd, 9 february 1993.

"fabulous jewelry from the house of cartier." usa today, may 1997.

fallon, jim. "cartier explores growth outside the jewelry label." wwd, 4 august 1989.

haber, holly. "cartier reopens in dallas." wwd, 27 october 1997.

larson, soren. "cartier's new look: so pretty." wwd, 8 september 1995.

meadus, amanda. "cartier keeps on fighting." wwd, 17 october 1994.

okun, stacy. "the legend and the legacy: the house of cartier celebrates 150 years of history and romance." town & country, march 1997.

"platinum gains ground with designers and consumers." february 1997. available at

"power players in the luxury market," 9 may 1998. available at

thompson, michael. "louise cartier's lasting imprint." jewelers circular keystone, february 1997.

trujillo, kerting. "cartier opens jewelry store in boca raton, fla." knight-ridder/tribune business news, 11 february 1997.

weideger, paula. "is the british museum falling down?" new statesman, 3 october 1997.

For additional industry research:

investigate companies by their standard industrial classification codes, also known as sics. cartier's primary sics are:

5094 jewelry, watches & precious stones

5944 jewelry stores