High Jewellery
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Actress Golshifteh Farahani wearing the Apatura Necklace from Cartier’s Beautés du Monde high jewellery collection.

Cartier’s latest high jewellery collection combines creativity and timeless designs, says its style and heritage director Pierre Rainero

  • The launch of Cartier’s latest high jewellery collection, Beauties of the World, was held in June in Spain and attended by stars including Blackpink’s Jisoo
  • We talked to Pierre Rainero, image, style and heritage director at Cartier, about changing tastes in high jewellery post-Covid, lab-grown diamonds and younger clients

High jewellery is the most rarefied realm of the luxury world. While haute couture – the creation of one-of-a-kind garments made to order in Paris by houses such as Chanel and Dior – gets most of the attention for its enormous price tags and incredible craftsmanship, high jewellery is even more exclusive.

We’re talking about one-of-a-kind pieces made with the rarest stones in centuries-old workshops in Paris.

Pierre Rainero, image, style and heritage director at Cartier, has been at the storied house for almost four decades and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the maison and its high jewellery division.
We caught up with him at the launch of Cartier’s latest high jewellery collection, Beautés du Monde (Beauties of the World), held in June in Madrid, Spain, and attended by stars such as Jisoo from K-pop girl group Blackpink and actress Yara Shahidi.
Jisoo from Blackpink at the unveiling of Cartier’s Beautés du Monde collection in Madrid in June 2022.

The main theme of the collection is the beauty of nature. How do you make a topic like nature fun and relevant?

“At Cartier, we have two fields of expression: the abstract one and the figurative one, which have coexisted forever. In recent years, we’ve explored even more this relationship between abstract and figurative. You can see the allusion to a snake in a necklace, for instance, but it doesn’t matter; it’s more about shapes. You might not see it as a snake and, once you know, you see it.

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“The first allusion to [Cartier’s icon] the panther, for instance, was abstract – the dots but not the full animal – and then it became figurative and achieved volume. When we work with shapes, we play with ambiguity and mystery.”

How do you make high jewellery appealing to younger clients?

“Globally, the buyers are becoming younger under the pressure of Asia because especially there people have access to wealth at a younger age, so we face younger and younger clients for important pieces, which was not the case in the past.

A pair of earrings recalling the scales of a snake from Cartier’s Beautés du Monde high jewellery collection.

“Also, social media plays a role and is a great help to communicate about the brand; on social networks there is so much information about Cartier. This new generation has a lot of access to knowledge, more than any other. Before, as a brand, you had to rely on books, exhibitions and stores.

“I also think the way of life of younger people is not the same as their parents’, which also affects the way they live with their jewellery. What we see when we are face to face with clients is that they want to enjoy it and wear it as much as possible, maybe because they feel life is too short so they just want to enjoy it.”

Have tastes in high jewellery changed because of Covid-19?

“We’re still going through Covid and we have political instability, and inflation, and the war in Ukraine and different reasons to worry in many parts of the world. The clear consequence is the idea to concentrate on beacons, what appeals to you forever, iconic designs that are permanent, something that will have value for years to come. Jewellery in general is part of that.

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“But that doesn’t mean you need to be conservative in your designs. It’s a paradox: you go to Cartier because of its permanence, but creativity and innovation are also part of that.”

What about logistical challenges?

“This collection was created in 2020 and there were no jewellery fairs. The Hong Kong fair, for example, is normally, in our process, the final stop, so if we can’t find more stones there we normally work with what we have. You have to see the stones when you buy them, so we had the stones come to us, and we managed, but it was a difficult context.”

What do you make of lab-grown diamonds?

“Culture can evolve. You may think that what’s natural is a miracle and a diamond is a miracle, and you’re attracted to that, but think about pearls. People did end up buying cultured pearls, so why not have the two possibilities? Let’s not underestimate the possible evolution of culture.

Actress Yara Shahidi wearing the Iwana necklace from Beautés du Monde, Cartier’s latest high jewellery collection.

“There are also many studies being done and some say that naturally grown diamonds use more energy. You have to take it slowly and see.”

Do you look at what other players in the industry are doing?

“It’s interesting to see what’s happening in jewellery, because we’re a very important actor in the evolution [of the industry].

“We see what someone else is doing, and it’s often something we just don’t do because it’s just not us, so we’re not jealous. In our field, there’s space for many directions and we look at it with curiosity.

Pierre Rainero, style and heritage director at Cartier.

“It’s exciting – and it would be a disaster if there was no creativity, the more we have the better because it creates more interest in jewellery.”

What is your first jewellery-related memory?

“A sautoir [long necklace] that my grandmother was wearing when I was two in Algeria, where I was born. It was long in black jet, typical mourning jewellery often worn by widows, and it was in various shapes like spheres and ovals, and I would play with it and feel the shapes and texture. I remember the different volumes of them.”

What’s your favourite stone?

“It’s a shock to many because it’s not a precious stone but semi-precious. It’s the peridot. When you like something you can’t explain it, you just like it. But I do like green in general and I like the nuances of the peridot because it has a warm colour, with some yellow in it, more yellowish than emerald.”