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A Cartier Necklace With Opals That Shine Like River Stones

By Nancy Hass

Florent Tanet

The panther has been Cartier’s leitmotif for more than a century. The first time the Paris-based jewellery company, founded in 1847, alluded to the graceful jungle cat was in 1914, when the house created a women’s platinum wristwatch with a case that resembled an abstracted version of the elegant animal’s spots, in onyx and diamonds. In the decades that followed, the house, led by creative director Jeanne Toussaint, interpreted the panther in increasingly figurative ways, culminating in the three-dimensional brooches and bracelet made for the Duchess of Windsor in the late 1940s and ’50s, in which the animal’s emerald or diamond eyes seemed to glow.

Now, in an era when jewels tend to suggest the natural world in a more metaphoric way, Cartier has returned the panther to its conceptual beginnings. You can imagine this collar — with its cascade of large translucent and iridescent opals reflecting violet, cobalt and grey hues, capped with a purplish-pink kunzite of more than 70 carats — as the shimmering, dappled coat of the cat as she darts through a glade. Or perhaps the array of gems are the river stones she treads lightly upon to elude those who might pursue her.

Cartier [Sur]Naturel High Jewellery Hemis necklace, price on request.