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« We have evolved towards a new accuracy”

Pierre Rainero, image director at Cartier, reveals why the latest high jewellery collection is a new path written in the rich creative legacy of the Maison

Cristina D'Agostino

By Cristina D'Agostino26 août 2020

Pierre Rainero, image director at Cartier (DR)

Nature freed from reality. This foreword for the official online press presentation summarizes the new Cartier high jewellery collection called [Sur]naturel. Yet it resonates way beyond, during these trouble times. To go from figuration to abstraction is what moves the whole world today. And this is revealed by the 150 high jewellery pieces of the 2020 collection. For the first time, stones of spectacular dimension are chosen to compose necklaces and rings. And interpret organic or purely graphic shapes, which seem infused with a new freedom.

Does the start of a collection always lie within stones?

It’s an iteration. First there is the need to explore certain territories. We buy stones over time, but we take six months to a year to gather the stones that will go in the right direction. And complete what we already have. But we give ourselves the freedom to revisit the theme, should the stones not work. Stones are key.

This collection is called [Sur]naturel, why this choice?

Nature is a continuous source of inspiration at Cartier, from its « traité naturaliste » to the will of abstraction with stylistic steps. [Sur]naturel is a collection name which was found in this continuity of inspiration that are fauna and flora, as well as how mankind has interpreted it, as some sort of separate vision. Therefore, we are not in a supernatural or fantasy vision.

Tillandsia necklace in white gold, two oval-shaped green beryls totalling 163.97 carats, one 0.55-carat fancy yellow pear-shaped diamond, one 0.53-carat fancy dark orangey brown pear-shaped diamond, rutilated quartz, brown pear-shaped diamonds, yellow rose-cut diamonds, yellow and white brilliant-cut diamonds. (Philip Gay © Cartier)

Is this a way of saying that Cartier takes over nature?

No, I believe nature feeds us and remains infinite in its inspiration capacity. No, we are humble in that which it represents. There is a double inspiration field: graphically, it’s endless, but symbolically, it is just as rich. And we combine here the essence of jewellery, the artistic field, destined to creating objects that acquire, because they are worn, a very strong symbolic character. In all civilizations.

The stones chosen are spectacular in their shape, transparency, dimension. Was there a wish to explore the spectacular?

Jewellery is a question of sophistication, of elegance. Here there is a choice of stones that are extraordinary, both by their nature and dimension. Beryl or opal have the effect of unusual dimension and audacity.

Is this a first?

Yes, after all, the dimension of the pieces is a challenge. Yet when you look at the global volume of the opal necklace, you are not looking at an oversized piece. It’s the material that makes the object seem big.

Does this mean the idea of harmony has changed?

It’s hard to say. We have certainly evolved towards a new accuracy; we wouldn’t have chosen these stones otherwise.  

Panthère Tropicale wristwatch in yellow gold, two octagonal aquamarines totalling 12.71 carats, two octagonal blue tourmalines totalling 20.58 carats, coral, onyx, brilliant-cut diamonds, quartz movement (Iris Velghe © Cartier)

Does this also coincide with the unique time we are currently living?

It’s interesting, as this collection started two years ago, and we were far from imagining the current context. The eye and vision constantly evolve. It’s a coherence over time. As to the current period and whether it echoes with the pandemic, I would say Cartier translates perhaps what seems most important today: the essence. At Cartier, it’s a founding rule. We want to go straight to the essence, with shapes and themes that we choose. And maybe the current period highlights this idea.

Have you allowed yourself to take some liberties with this collection?

It’s a good question… we want to showcase the style’s coherence over time, but it needs to be open to change.  

Isn’t a style antinomic to freedom?

No, on the contrary, a language that’s yours gives you great freedom. An enlightened freedom that doesn’t trap you. This collection is embedded in a Cartier path and is at the same time very free.

Opheis necklace in white gold, one 53.94 rectangular-shaped with rounded corners emerald from Zambia, two rectangular-shaped diamonds totalling 5.42 carats, one 1.55-carat cut-cornered triangular-shaped diamond, onyx, baguette- and brilliant-cut diamonds (Philip Gay © Cartier)

How did the clients perceive it?

Of course, perception has been different considering circumstances. We have strongly communicated digitally. But we are happy to note the wish of newness is present. We have managed to gain the clients’ engagement.

What was the risk?

When you work with such stones, you need to adjust to their extraordinary aspect. But when we acquire stones, we are always rather confident. The objective was to go further, beyond what we know of nature. With the necklace «Tillandsia», we needed to explore the translucid aspect of beryl. We played with a metal diamond-set frame behind these spectacular stones, to play with light. We had an idea, but it was a bet. All new exploration is a risk. There is an organic aspect that transpires on some pieces. It’s an aspect that Cartier has been exploring for a decade, and it is particularly noticeable in this collection.

Today, does the eye integrate further this organic beauty?

The organic architectural style was born at the end of the 1930s with Oscar Niemeyer, Eero Saarinen and closer to our time, Zaha Adid. Then in jewellery, this style appeared in the 1950s, already with a bit of curve abstraction and counter-curves. Here, we find ourselves in a type of organic that slips beyond a known geometry. There is a freedom.

What is your state of mind linked to Covid, how will this shape creativity?

The way events are integrated is not thought out. When you are facing creation, you are spontaneous, it’s a silent integration of events. We are all permeable, without being able to analyse the evolution. Analysis does not have its place in a creative process, this comes with time and objectivity. It is true that the production of the end of the collection, which counts 150 pieces in total, was disrupted as the workshops were closed. The publication edited in September will show the entirety of the collection.

Not being able to travel, is it a disadvantage for the stones?

Yes, today stones need to come to you, and events and trade fairs are opportunities to discover. It’s also in travelling that imagination triggered.  

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