Cartier designs, manufactures, distributes and sells jewellery and watches. Founded in Paris, France in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier, the company remained under family control until 1964. The company maintains its headquarters in Paris and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Compagnie Financière Richemont SA.
In 1874, Louis-François' son Alfred Cartier took over the company, but it was Alfred's sons Louis, Pierre and Jacques, who were responsible for establishing the brand name worldwide. Cartier is well known for its jewellery and wrist watches, including the "Bestiary", the diamond necklace created for Bhupinder Singh the Maharaja of Patiala, and the first practical wristwatch, the "Santos", of 1904.
Cartier has a long history of sales to royalty and celebrities. King Edward VII of England referred to Cartier as "the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers."
In 1972, a group of investors led by Joseph Kanoui bought Cartier Paris. President Robert Hocq, who created the phrase "Les Must de Cartier" with Alain Dominique Perrin, General Director, began introducing new products. In 1974 and 1976 respectively, the group repurchased Cartier London and Cartier New York. In 1979, the Cartier interests were combined, "Cartier Monde" uniting and controlling Cartier Paris, London and New York.
Cartier merged in 1981 with "Les Must de Cartier", and Perrin was appointed Chairman of Cartier SAA and Cartier International. The next year, Micheline Kanoui assumed responsibility for jewellery design and launched her first collection "Nouvelle Joaillerie". In 1984, Perrin founded the "Fondation Cartier pour l'art Contemporain" to bring Cartier into the twenty-first century, by forming an association with living artists.