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  • Harry Fane

Recession, drepression.....

In the 1930s Cartier was faced with disaster as the Depression gripped the world and destroyed businesses across Europe and North America. Cartier's free-spending millionaires of the 1920s where nowhere to be seen after the Crash of 1929 and Cartier was desperate for means to say current, active and to continue to sell jewels and objets d'art. They proved nimble and able. Their design department chose to continue making great designs but using much less valuable components. Mirror was to take the place of valuable enamels and ivories or hard stones. Mirror also served well for the cases and dials of clocks. Sometimes the glass panels were peach coloured, sometimes white but always they were bordered within lacquer panels. Lacquer, not an expensive material, was also utilised to replace enamel and black onyx, for example. It was also used to simulate coral or jade. Nothing in Cartier's boldness of design, however, was sacrificed. This dressing-set made in Paris in the early 1930s was destined for the Palace of the Maharaja of Patiala. What a striking ensemble. So impressed was The Maharaja by the design, rumour has it, he created an entire bathroom suite to match. This ability to innovate saved Cartier for the sunnier days which were to follow and now these pieces are greatly regarded and sought after.

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