Sleek, sensuous and fierce, panthers have prowled their way around Cartier’s designs for over a century. Ebony spots and a diamond hide were first glimpsed on a wristwatch in 1914; three years later, Louis Cartier’s gift to director of jewellery, and his lover, Jeanne Toussaint, was a panther depicted on a diamond, onyx and platinum cigarette case. Toussaint – affectionately nicknamed La Panthère – was enamoured with the creature and it became a familiar motif in Cartier’s jewellery over the subsequent decades.

Now, Cartier revisits this rich history, and the spectacular new high jewellery collection unveiled this month rethinks familiar symbols. The Panthère Tropical watch bracelet pays tribute to Toussaint’s love of brilliantly bold colour combinations, nodding to her designs in the Thirties which laced the panther’s spots in vivid coral. This new piece takes these juxtapositions further, adding an amalgamation of tourmaline and aquamarine into the mix.

Cartier ring
Sketches of a coral and panther motif Bague ring from 1963 

‘Introducing a camaïeu colour play of blue with the tourmalines and the aquamarines is an entirely new colour combination for the Maison,’ says Pierre Rainero, director of image, style and heritage at Cartier International. ‘This new panther iteration is very soft and feminine through the use of materials, evoking the strength of the panther at the same time.’

The hybrid mix of colours and textures is an unparalleled technical accomplishment; the coral alone is notoriously fragile, its tremendous size increasing the risk of it cracking under the gem-cutter’s hands. Its inclusion is typical of a Maison whose risk-taking in the past has defined a wholly new set of graphic jewellery codes. ‘This piece is emblematic of Cartier in its style: how different stones and shapes are pieced together without any metal assembling or paved diamonds. It is a real Cartier signature in terms of volume,’ says Rainero. §
 

Cartier watch bracelet
The Panthère Tropical piece embraces new stones and colours