Carved Chimera bangle
A bracelet designed as two carved coral chimera heads set with round and oval cabochon emeralds and square, round, and circular-cut diamonds, the hinges set with round diamonds in yellow gold and each swivels open in the opposite direction; mounted in platinum and yellow gold,
In 1923, Louis Cartier created a cliquot pin with a pink coral chimera head studded with diamonds and emeralds set in gold and platinum. This important pin was the first of the Art Deco chimeras and what would become an iconic Cartier form. The Chimera is a mythological figure with roots in many ancient civilizations typically depicted with the head of a lion, body of a goat, and tail of a dragon. The Chinese chimera, the figure that most closely relates to the Cartier form, is a symbol of longevity and success interchangeable with a dragon. Cartier went on to create several chimera bracelets from 1927 to 1929.
In 1933 Jeanne Toussaint took over as director of the luxury jewelry department. She moved the company away from the structured jewels of the Art Deco and into more figurative pieces that brought playfulness to the dark times of World War II. Toussaint remained deeply connected to the design roots of the company—after all she was the inspiration for the panthère—and looked back to the important chimera bangles, reviving the design in the late 1940s when the Duchess of Windsor purchased a pink coral chimera bangle very similar to this one. Daisy Fellowes purchased an example in 1961 that is now in the Cartier Collection.
Designed as a cuff with two chimera heads, this piece recalls the antique form of bangles terminating in animal heads found in many ancient Middle Eastern and Mediterranean civilizations from Assyria to Greece. Louis Cartier combined the ancient bracelet form with the Chinese chimera mythology, and Toussaint modernized the design with oversized decorative motifs of Indian inspiration encrusted with diamonds and emeralds providing pops of color. According to Hans Nadelhoffer, this bracelet would have taken 250–300 painstaking hours for skilled artisans to create. Cartier designers created precise drawings for the Durand lapidary workshop where the bangle was carved from a particular pink coral stalk available from Japan only through the Italian dealer Borelli. The bracelet was then taken to the Lavabre workshop for jewel setting and the swivel mechanism. The completed jewel, uniting mythology, precious materials, and fine craftsmanship is a magnificent piece created for a woman of self-assurance and refinement.
"Rare Collectible Jewelry"