... as much a tribute to a bygone era as a thorough account of modern luxury ... The author tells us that her grandfather was initially reluctant to discuss Cartier’s early history: Ge was ashamed that it was his generation that had failed to keep the company in the family. But he gradually embraced the project, and his accounts are the beating heart of The Cartiers, elevating this from a company story to a human story — one even the unadorned will read with pleasure.
Involving gifted artists and crafty entrepreneurs, it offers everything bling-loving readers could want. Stories about fabulous diamonds, perfectly matched pearls, glittering tiaras, iconic watches, and other jaw-dropping adornments are intertwined with detailed accounts of family lore and business dealings, descriptions of myriad social events, displays of unimaginable wealth, and copious name-dropping: royals, movie stars, maharajas, mistresses, moguls, and other glitterati. This is not mere society-page reportage, though ... insightful portraits of the Cartier family and intriguing insider looks at evolving high-society social scenes. There are archival photos, genealogy and time lines, chapter notes, and an extensive bibliography. There’s also a massive publisher advertising campaign in the works; expect plenty of well-deserved interest.
... an incredible monograph ... a very detailed and somewhat intimate story of the Cartiers from both a familial and business point of view ... This is absolutely not one of those glorious coffee table books displaying just the brilliance of Cartier jewelry. This is a book that must be read and in fact, the volume almost reads like a family diary/journal for the four generations of the Cartier family ... Brickell successfully intertwines the family aspect with both the business and creative aspects ... The takeaway is simply the prospective reader has to have more than just an interest in the jewels of Cartier; they must be will willing to relive just how it all began from its founding father to present.
Brickell easily illustrates her passion for her family’s history in a narrative that follows the lineage of the Cartiers, who created a brand set apart by sumptuously unique jewelry, uniting background cultural events with the intimate personal lives of those behind the famous name ... A thoroughly researched and enjoyable family business history that should appeal to history buffs and lovers of high-end fashion and jewelry alike.
... [Brickell's] book is the only one that pulls back the curtain on the Cartier Wizard of Oz to tell you about the family you never knew ... Brickell is the tour guide whose fascination with her subject turns hitherto unknown fact into fresh gossip, and she spares no detail along the way ... Brickell, who admits that she’s no jewelry historian, has done prodigious research, tracking down primary sources and talking to former employees and experts in the field. (My one quibble is wishing she had had a better editor.) Quite rightly, she frames the narrative around the letters, including personal notes about family life ... Brickell has humanized Cartier. That’s no small feat.
... the author lovingly describes the intricacy and craftsmanship of Cartier’s mystery clocks ... Oddly, the letters on which Ms. Cartier Brickell based her research are seldom quoted. When there’s a snippet of one, for instance, from Jacques’s wife, Nelly, to her children, it’s the best insight we get into her character. More such voices, and less detail of the myriad business intricacies, would have been welcome ... But if The Cartiers is too long, it’s for a very understandable reason: Ms. Cartier Brickell promised her beloved grandfather shortly before he died that she would tell their family’s story. Doing justice to four generations of jewelers through Napoleon III, two world wars and endless social and financial upheaval is a weighty task. Her writing could use a little more sparkle—people hardly ever seem to work other than tirelessly or die other than tragically. Her perfectionist ancestors might have sent the manuscript back for a little tinkering. But Ms. Cartier Brickell has done her grandfather proud.
Like many American books, it’s too long for its subject, being packed with the sort of obscure detail fascinating to family members but less enthralling to others ... Having said that, the story of the family’s rise from simple artisans to originators, creators, super salesmen and friends to the rich and famous is extraordinary.
... sparkling ... Brickell adds well-informed commentary on Cartier’s jewelry innovations, like the displacement of ponderous Victorian bling with lighter, elegant pieces in delicate platinum settings, and the pioneering of men’s watch designs. The result is an engrossing study of jewelry history and of high society at its flashiest, studded with entertaining anecdotes.
The author’s elegant writing and a talent for braiding the main narrative with quotes from the brothers’ letters enliven a bygone period in which craftsmanship and exclusivity went hand in hand. Brickell covers strategic moves that reveal the family’s savvy and strings colorful anecdotes throughout the wider story of one of the French luxury industry's key players. Sections on Louis, whose aptitude for talent scouting and taste stood out, capture the excitement of designing influential collections ... The chapters set in the 1920s portray a memorable glamour, and comments from Brickell's grandfather add a warm immediacy ... A lavish, capably rendered family biography that will speak to anyone who appreciates passionate artists and dealmakers.