Cartier’s New York beauty is shining once again.
The French brand’s flagship boutique in New York City reopened in September after two and a half years of extensive renovations.
The building, which dates back to 1905, was originally a six-story mansion home to the Plant family, and is situated on 52nd Street and 5th Avenue. As the area became the commercial corridor we know it as today, the Plants moved uptown and sold the house to Cartier in 1917.
Cartier refurbished the entire building with the help of renowned architect Thierry Despont. Wood paneling was refurbished, new chandeliers modelled after the originals were installed, and the 5th Avenue entrance was moved to the center of the building for symmetry purposes. The total square footage was expanded dramatically, going from 8,600 square feet to a whopping 44,100 square feet.
Cartier gave us a chance to see inside the mansion and take an up-close look at the precious items on display, some of which are worth millions and millions of dollars.
The Cartier Mansion is a six-floor former residence-turned-boutique located on the corner of 52nd Street and 5th Avenue in New York City. Anyone can tour the first four floors of boutique space, but the events space and roof deck above that are off-limits.
This first entry room also showcases the latest and greatest of Cartier's collection, including a new southwest-inspired collection called Cactus de Cartier.
This prickly but elegant necklace is made from 18K yellow gold and emeralds, and set with 204 brilliant-cut diamonds. Like many of Cartier's best pieces, the price is available upon request.
There's also a portrait of Mae Caldwell Manwaring Plant, the wife of Morton F. Plant, who had originally owned the house.
But times changed, and the neighbourhood became much more commercial. In 1917 the mansion was sold to Cartier for $100 in cash, plus a perfect double-stranded natural pearl necklace estimated to be worth $1 million at the time (about $20 million now).
That strand of pearls inspired this one, which was created in celebration of the mansion's renovations. The original has sadly been lost to history, disappearing after selling for a fraction of its estimate in an estate sale after Mae Caldwell Manwaring Plant died.
In the renovations, a staircase was added above the home's original 52nd Street entrance. A staircase was in the original home when it was a residence, and has been restored in a similar location.
Also featured in this main vestibule is Cartier's Love collection. The bracelets are easily identifiable, cost about $6,000, and come with a screwdriver that the wearer must use to put them on. The bracelets are a favourite of celebrities and frequently make an appearance on 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians.'
The panther motif can be see throughout the mansion, like in this large painting. It's a Cartier symbol dating back to 1914, when the brand's advertising featured a panther.
Upstairs, a mid-floor mezzanine for VIP clients hangs over the main floor. The furniture used throughout the mansion was sourced by Despont. Some of them are antique Cartier pieces, but many are brand new and created just for the boutique.
There's a plush, closed-door salon for clients requesting a bit of privacy in their jewellery transactions.
The second floor is where the real magic happens. This brightly decorated room is known as the Princess Grace Salon after Grace Kelly, and it contains Cartier's diamond collection.
The oak paneling used throughout the home was salvaged and modelled into the new room designs. Some of the detailing is original.
These pieces are the most expensive and elaborate Cartier has to offer -- they're the shiniest of the shiny. There are large pearl necklaces ...
The mansion and the adjoining townhouse were made level during the renovation, and you can see clear from one side to the next on each floor.
Arguably the most famous of Cartier's watch offerings is the Tank, which is considered the most iconic watch to have a rectangular face.
They come in an incredible variety, including some that showcase the brand's expertise with precious metals.
Men's watches can be found in the Andy Warhol salon. Warhol was a noted fan of the Tank, and was frequently photographed wearing his.
This room, filled with watches, is named after Gary Cooper, another noted fan of Cartier pieces. It's encased in real leather wallpaper.
We finish our tour on the fourth and final floor of retail, which hosts Cartier's accessories collections.
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