Cartier: Jeweler to Kings of Past and Present
Cartier: Jeweler to Kings of Past and Present
by Lisa Travell
December 04, 2015
The iconic Cartier brand is synonymous with luxury and style. Well known as jeweler to royalty the world over, it was King Edward VII of England that bestowed upon them the royal seal of approval by declaring Cartier “King of Jewelers and Jeweler of Kings”.
Cartier did not disappoint at the recent 10th Doha Jewelry and Watches Exhibition, presenting an exquisite high-end collection featuring 150 unique handcrafted pieces; some gathered for the first time in the Middle East.
Unveiled at the exhibition were 26 unique Panther High Jewelry Creations. “La Panthère” has been the House’s iconic signature motif since 1914 and is said to embody the free spirit, beauty and audacity of its creator Jeanne Toussaint. This stunning collection brings to life the panther with each piece sporting a different expression or pose – it’s hard to believe they are fashioned from precious stones and so intricate is the craftsmanship that Cartier has captured this magnificent beast perfectly. Cartier’s collection also featured a stunning transformable necklace with an exceptional oval cut 115.8-carat sapphire and a ceremonial necklace centered with a 50.03-carat yellow diamond.
Charismatic Louis Ferla has been Managing Director of Middle East and India for three and a half years and is pleased with the business generated, not only at the exhibition, but also across the Middle East. “We have expanded our business here – we now have new boutiques in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE,” he says.
Cartier has over 300 boutiques worldwide and only sixteen of these are located in the Middle East; however, Ferla still views the region as a significant part of the business. “Qatar is an important market in the Middle East and we are continuing to expand in the region, but we are slowing the pace a little as we want to ensure that we maintain the high level of the brand and that we provide an excellent service to our clients,” he says. “If you go to Riyadh, Dubai or Doha you get the same service as you would get in Paris, London or New York.”
With dazzling pieces on display at the exhibition it’s easy to see why customers in the market for a unique piece of jewelry choose Cartier, but just how much can you expect to pay for these remarkable creations? Ferla is reluctant to reveal the most expensive item they have in the exhibition but is keen to emphasize it’s not all about the money. “Yes we have expensive pieces; twenty, thirty, forty million riyals, but for me the value is not really key. The message I want to share is about the craftsmanship,” he says. “If you look at this exhibition today we have presented more than 150 unique pieces. Almost no maison is capable of that. We present pieces and creations that all have their own identity – their own savoir-faire. The way we work is that we only buy the best stones available on the market then we design around the stone so our level of creativity and craftsmanship will add value to the stone and magnify it by giving it more light and more shine. To do this we have craftsmen that have been trained for ten to twenty years.”
It’s not just skilled craftsmanship that sets Cartier apart but also their sense of responsibility to the community and the ecosystem they source their materials from. Ferla explains Cartier’s environmental philosophy: “We don’t buy stones which support any conflict and we buy gold from responsible mining, which is more expensive than the market but doesn’t destroy the environment – these are things that the customer doesn’t see but that we feel is the right thing to do.”
As the economic downturn continues to affect the majority of the global community many businesses have turned their focus towards the Middle East, viewing it as a safe place to invest. “So far all our investments have been very sound here and the amount of wealth available in the Middle East has been growing over the years. Our clients are very discerning and they travel a lot, a great number of children have been educated aboard – we see a lot of potential here,” says Ferla.
Even with the recession it appears that high-end brands such as Cartier are somewhat “recession-proof”. According to Ferla a piece from Cartier is a purchase for the long term. “If you normally buy four pieces of jewelry a year, two from Cartier and two from elsewhere, and in a downturn you only buy two, it is likely you will still buy two from Cartier. Even when the global economy is slowing down people see Maison Cartier as a safe investment.”
Cartier’s creations are viewed by many as more than just jewelry. Ferla explains that each one is a masterpiece to be admired and treasured throughout time. “Each unique creation we consider almost a piece of art; it is timeless and you don’t put a value on it,” he says. “That’s why for me, and many at Cartier share this point of view, the price is not very relevant – you are buying something to pass from one generation to another and even if you do sell it (sometimes Cartier will even buy it back) you will get the value your ancestors paid for it.”
Unlike most global businesses Cartier does not design for the market. So renowned is this luxury brand that its pieces are its signature and there is no need to tailor accordingly. “We don’t design something specifically for the Middle Eastern or the Asian market – if you start to do that you lose your identity, we design something that is in line with our DNA,” says Ferla.
Renowned not only for creating beautiful jewelry, but also for their legendary watches, Cartier is one jeweler that successfully straddles both markets. “If you look at most of the maisons the jewelers are not very good at making watches and the watchmakers are not very good at making jewelry. We are probably the only maison that’s legitimate in both,” states Ferla.
Cartier has it all – highly trained and skilled craftsmen, a high moral and social responsibility and the ability to produce breathtaking and unique works of art that are truly timeless. Ferla sums up his personal view, one he believes is shared by many across the Middle East, saying: “Cartier is seen as the number one jeweler in the region.”