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Art Deco Crystal, Nephrite, Lapis Lazuli, and Gold Box by Cartier admired by Lee Siegelson

We asked a third-generation gem and jewellery dealer Lee Siegelson, who has a discerning eye for acquiring unique and important Cartier creations, to share his favourite Cartier piece from his collection.

Art Deco Crystal, Nephrite, Lapis Lazuli, and Gold Box by Cartier, Paris, 1925

From the company’s founding in 1847, Cartier has offered a variety of decorative and functional objects to their clients. In the Art Deco period, Louis Cartier told his designers, “We must make it our business to build up an inventory that responds to the mood of the public by producing articles which have a useful function but which are also decorated in the Cartier style.” In the 1920s, the booming postwar economy provided spending money for new clients interested in luxury goods for use in daily life.

Copy of original Cartier design drawing

This table box by Cartier is a fantastic example of a useful object embodying the aesthetic of the Art Deco period with clean lines and geometric shapes featuring a touch of the exotic. A rectangular crystal top with a curved nephrite bottom and lapis lazuli details, the box features the stunning blue-green colour combination which Louis Cartier called the “peacock pattern,” inspired by the enamelled Mughal jewellery of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Some of the most important jewels created by Cartier in this period, and collected by J. P. Morgan and the Baron de Rothschild, featured the peacock pattern.

A pioneer of design in the Art Deco era, Cartier created impressive pieces during the 1920s, and some of the most stunning jewels and objects incorporated exotic elements. The colour combination of this box is so rich, that the use of clear and opaque crystal is a subtle and masterful design move. The crystal is embellished with a meandering floral vine around a clear centre evoking a Persian carpet representing a pool of water in a garden or a mihrab, a prayer niche. This box evokes the aesthetic of Persia and India that is reimagined in a modern way by Cartier. This exquisite design embodies the dynamic spirit of the 1920s and features some of the most important Cartier motifs of the era. This is one of the most important and beautiful boxes created by Cartier and would be an extraordinary addition to any collection.

Art Deco Crystal, Nephrite, Lapis Lazuli, and Gold Box by Cartier, Paris, 1925

A box in the shape of a half-cylinder, the base of the box a single curved piece of nephrite, the top composed of two double-hinged frosted crystal panels with a carved foliate motif, set at the centre with nephrite hoop pulls centring lapis lazuli cabochons, opening to reveal a single compartment, resting on four lapis lazuli feet; mounted in 18 karat gold, with French hallmarks, in original Cartier red leather fitted box.

Art Deco Crystal, Nephrite, Lapis Lazuli, and Gold Box by Cartier, Paris, 1925

• Measurements: 11 9⅜ 3⅝ inches
• Signed Cartier, Paris, Londres, New York, Made in France

Nussbaum. Eric, et. al. El Arte de Cartier: Resplandor del Tiempo. Mexico City: Instituto Nacionalde Bellas Artes, 1999, p. 275 & 306


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