Cover Aphélie necklace in pink gold set with a 68.85‑carat rutilated quartz cabochon and diamonds, morganite beads, coral and onyx. (Photo: Courtesy of Cartier)

Cartier’s daring new high jewellery collection, Magnitude, is testament to the brand’s commitment to forward thinking while preserving its heritage

Picture a flawless diamond set next to rutilated quartz; or perhaps a deeply saturated emerald playing second fiddle to a rock crystal; or maybe a precious pink diamond paired with humble morganite. “Who commits such transgressions,” traditional jewellery admirers might ask. And while some may be surprised to find the unapologetic culprit is none other than Cartier, others who have followed the brand through the decades will give a knowing nod; “Of course,” they will say under their breath.

I was admittedly surprised by the unexpected pairings when I saw Cartier’s latest high jewellery collection, Magnitude, at its launch in London in June, but then an earlier conversation with the brand’s gatekeeper of style—image and heritage director Pierre Rainero—came to mind.

When I’d asked if such an established brand ever felt confined by its patrimony amid the clamour for new, different and modern offerings, he responded instantly with an emphatic, “Not at all. Though the style is founded on Louis Cartier’s vision, it’s still changing, constantly adapting to the times—as you will see in our collections that embraced the pioneering spirit of neoclassicism just at the end of the 19th century, to the beginning of the fragmentation of geometry, and the stylisation of nature, and the configurative phase of the 1930s, transitioning to the art deco style.

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“And we love to shock every now and then,” Rainero added. True to form, Magnitude does just that. In this collection Cartier has made bold decisions on materials, design and texture but, incredibly, the magnificent creations remain recognisably Cartier. This is the result of skills learned and practised masterfully and consistently, and with astonishing discipline, by its designers, jewellers and craftsmen.

Rainero explained that while Cartier’s creative team is virtually given free rein to express their ideas, a specific language is very much ingrained in their minds, so that even given such creative latitude, the resulting jewels are still very Cartier, so to speak.

At the launch I spoke with Arnaud Carrez, the brand’s international marketing and communication director, who described the collection as “a reflection of Cartier’s never-ending commitment to push boundaries” in terms of creativity and taste. “It’s not the first time we’ve used different types of stones,” he added, “but when you see the number of pieces created with those stones that have never been used, I think that’s really great for us. I’d say it’s the attitude of a real leader.

“This collection stays very true to our past, our spirit. If you look back to the beginning of the 20th century, Cartier was already pioneering the use of platinum—a material that only really caught on in other jewellery houses in the last couple of decades—and rock crystal. Cartier has constantly reinvented itself over the last century and a half. And with this collection, it’s just another step forward.”

In admiring the pieces that make up the Magnitude collection—where the stars are not always the rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds but rather the ornamental stones or rutilated quartz cabochons—comes another level of appreciation for jewellery. Here, you eliminate all your old notions of what makes a piece precious and instead embrace the freshness of design and the beauty of lesser known stones shaking up a jewellery market hungry for ingenuity.

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