From nails to screws, and cacti to wildflowers, Cartier has a long history of transforming everyday objects into stunning jewellery. The house’s latest sparkling collection, Grain de Cafe, takes its inspiration from an item that is central to the lives of many urban dwellers today — the coffee bean.
Under the stewardship of then creative director Jeanne Toussaint, the coffee-bean motif first popped up on a brooch at Cartier in 1938. However, it was in the ‘50s and ‘60s that it really took off, undoubtedly partly because of celebrity fans like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. In fact, Kelly received a Grain de Cafe set for her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. The late style icon and actress remains such an inspiration for the collection that the new Grain de Cafe campaign, starring Elle Fanning, pays homage to her.
The new Grain de Cafe collection stays true to the design language that has defined these playful pieces over the decades. Comprising a range of rings, pendants, earrings and brooches, the designs are chiefly made from yellow gold — which, incidentally, is having a major moment in the world of bling — that is lightened up with diamonds and touches of white gold.
Each delightfully plump coffee bean is actually a hollow grain composed of two parts — one arched and one curved, so as to minimise contact between the beans, which are mostly arranged closely in a row or in clusters. These surfaces are either smooth or gadrooned (carved with parallel rounded strips), and they are all polished for an appealing lustre.
These beans are accented with a diamond set in white gold, and mounted on substantial, twine-like “palm tree” chains in yellow gold and white gold. Arranged in single or double rows or set in clusters, the beans move slightly with movement. Their smooth tactility, however, will undoubtedly tempt the wearer to keep fiddling with them.
While most of the pieces are made of yellow gold as well as diamonds and white gold, the collection includes a few variations: There is a necklace and a ring, for instance, that are made from rose gold, and feature the use of obsidian on the surfaces of alternating beans. Deep, juicy pops of pink make an appearance in exceptional pieces — a ring and a bracelet are studded with rubellite beads resembling coffee berries. How’s all that for a pick-me-up?