Extraordinary Encounters (IV): Eye of the Panther

Saffronart’s inaugural Jewellery Conference, titled The Timeless Legacy of Indian Jewels, was held on 6 – 7 October 2017, and was the first of its scale in the region. Counting down the weeks to our second conference on 11 – 12 October 2019, we bring you some interesting anecdotes that were shared by our expert speakers in 2017.  

lisa hubbard

Lisa Hubbard speaking at The Timeless Legacy of Indian Jewels conference in 2017.

International jewellery specialist Lisa Hubbard’s lecture, titled “Is All That Glitters Really Gold? Jewels Worth Collecting,” explored, among others, pieces from the Duchess of Windsor’s collection – including an onyx and diamond Panthère bracelet made by Cartier in 1952. Hubbard described this bracelet as, “Totally articulated from head to toe, a supple animal made from platinum – the hardest metal – and diamonds, the hardest precious stones. It was, and it is, a marvel of the jeweller’s art.”

The iconic Panthère series was created by Jeanne Toussaint (1887-1976), who was the director of Cartier’s luxury department from 1933 to 1970. She was first introduced to Louis Cartier in 1913 through the French illustrator George Barbier, who was working on an advertising campaign with the brand. By the end of 1913, Cartier had employed her, and later affectionately nicknamed her “la Panthère,” for Toussaint was infatuated with panthers and decorated her apartment with animal skins and jewels influenced by her favourite feline. In the 1940s, she pushed her team to create sculptural designs featuring the animal, supported by the technical skills of Peter Lemarchand, who “spent countless hours at the Vincennes Zoo studying the expressions and movements of panthers.” 


Lady with Panther by George Barbier for Cartier, 1914. The display card commissioned by Louis Cartier in 1914 was later used as advertising for the firm. It depicts a woman in a fashionable gown with a panther at her feet. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1933, the Duke of Windsor came to Toussaint at Cartier, and this commenced a long patronage. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were regular customers, commissioning more than six pieces from the sleek Panthère series, among many animal-themed and other jewels, over a period of 20 years.


Jeanne Toussaint in 1920. Photograph by Adolf de Meyer. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

For the 1952 bracelet, Toussaint designed a detailed and highly articulated body that featured linking elements causing an elegant movement that imitated the silken movements of a panther. The entire body of the panther was set in platinum with onyx and diamonds, with distinctive eyes set with marquise-shaped emeralds. The extraordinary star power of Cartier, Toussaint, and the Duchess of Windsor meant that after the Duchess’s death in 1986, the bracelet sold at a 1987 auction for $1.27 million, and again in 2010 for $7 million.  

Cartier has described the feline inspiration for this series as:

“A truly wild animal, the panther is more than a mere symbol for Cartier. It is a timeless icon that is both predatory and elegant, restrained yet always ready to pounce. Roaming free with emerald eyes, onyx muzzle and diamond-set coat, the creations from the Panther collection make their mark on the world of jewelry.” 

Bold, sleek and timeless, the Panthère de Cartier line today includes a repertoire of rings, necklaces, bracelets, bags and watches for both women and men.

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A wild kind of beauty. @NadineLabaki looked stunning in a white gold #PanthèredeCartier bracelet with emeralds, onyx and 706 brilliant-cut diamonds. #Cannes2019

A post shared by Cartier Official (@cartier) on


Lisa Hubbard will return to speak at the second edition of Saffronart’s Jewellery Conference, where her talk will explore the conception and success of the recent auction “Maharajas and Mughal Magnificence.”


The second edition of Saffronart’s Jewellery Conference, titled Mapping a Legacy of Indian Jewels, will take place on 11 – 12 October 2019. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting interesting articles in conjunction with the conference. Stay tuned!

Cover image: Panthère de Cartier, courtesy Cartier.

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