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Books That Sparkle

Books That Sparkle

Francesca Cartier Brickell’s Favorite Jewelry-Inspired Tomes

About a decade ago, Francesca Cartier Brickell went looking for a bottle of Champagne as her family celebrated the 90th birthday of her grandfather, Jean-Jacques Cartier, at his home in the south of France. While rummaging through the wine cellar, she stumbled across a trunk full of old letters that revealed how four generations built the Cartier jewelry business.

Francesca Cartier Brickell, has been influenced by everything from novels to historical tomes
Francesca Cartier Brickell, has been influenced by everything from novels to historical tomes.

The discovery ultimately led to her book, The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire, published in November 2019. Cartier Brickell undertook a globetrotting research trip, tracking down key players and uncovering details about how the Cartier brothers kept their business thriving through wars, revolutions, and economic upheaval. “I felt inspired, and even duty-bound, to keep the story alive,” she says. Reside® caught up with the author to find out about her favorite jewelry and fashion-related reads.

1. Diamond Jewelry: 700 Years of Glory and Glamour by Diana Scarisbrick

“Through many, many diamond jewels (and the illustrations are wonderful), Diana Scarisbrick takes us on a dazzling journey through time. A veritable feast for the eyes, and a truly illuminating lens through which to view history.”

Diamond Jewelry: 700 Years of Glory and Glamour
The Glitter and the Gold

2. The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt

“I love this peek into the life of Consuelo Vanderbilt. Like many ‘dollar princesses’ of her time, Consuelo was shipped over the Atlantic with her dollars, dreams, and cases of dresses and jewels in the late 19th century (rather against her will) to marry an English duke and prop up his family’s finances. The Vanderbilts were big jewelry buyers, and those mind-blowing gems feature in her Golden Age memoir. More than that though, Consuelo offers an incredible window into the life of a Belle Epoque Duchess. A great read.”

3. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“This is a novel rather than a jewelry or fashion book, but I made an exception as there’s nothing like hearing about the Roaring ’20s—all that seductive glamour, style, and energy­—from someone who was actually there. [It’s] set in Paris and the Riviera at a time when, just around the corner from where the protagonist Dick Diver is holidaying, Louis Cartier was coming up with those elegant Art Deco jewels that remain so sought after today. Oh, and there’s also a rather dramatic duel which—bizarrely—echoes a real-life 1920s Cartier/Rothschild duel I discovered was proposed by a hot-headed Louis after he had been snubbed at a party.”

Tender Is the Night
The Royal Jewels

4. The Royal Jewels by Suzy Menkes

“This is a classic—absolutely crammed full of images and stories and unexpected insights about the English royal family and their jewels. I’d heard about the designs and making of some of Cartier royal gems from my grandfather (and the odd anecdote like how he had fallen asleep in Buckingham Palace waiting to see the royals and had to be woken—mortified—by the Queen Mother herself!) but this book placed that all in colorful context.”

5. Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court by Stefano Papi

“One of the most fun parts about researching jewels for my book was following their trail through time. So many of those that passed through Cartier’s hands in the 20th century—and ended up on famous film stars or royals or heiresses—started out in the treasure troves of the Romanovs. This book is filled with those staggering jewels and the regal figures who wore them.”

Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court

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