Cartier North America’s new President and CEO, Mercedes Abramo, takes Haute Living on an exclusive tour of their even newer three-story Design District maison. The 7,500-square foot store is reminiscent of a Parisian “hotel particulier” in the 16th arrondissement and was designed by architect Bruno Moinard and built by Callison Architects. Filled with bronze cases, plush blush carpet and a sparkling, two-story chandelier, the store is almost as beautiful as the collection of Cartier jewelry it houses.
For the first time in the southeast, a Cartier store has the entire collection on offer, including collections Trinity, Love, Juste un Clou, Panthère and Amulette, in addition to some historic pieces. “We definitely saw that our business in Miami and our local clientele had grown significantly, so we really needed the space to showcase everything,” explains Abramo. It’s certain that the store will become a destination for serious Cartier fans.
Customers ascend a grand staircase with a French-style black iron railing to reach the second floor, where the brand’s leather goods, eyewear and iconic watches such as the Tank and Ballon Bleu are on display. Abramo points to the Tank, “We introduced this one in 1917 and it was a real departure. People weren’t doing watches in this clean, simplistic style. See how the strap goes seamlessly into the legs of the watch? That was radical,” explains the CEO who joined Cartier in 2008 and ran its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan before working her way up the ranks.
Cartier’s clientele is known for devout loyalty to the brand, with buyers going back to it again and again for their jewelry and watch purchases. It’s not just because only two percent of the world’s diamonds are chosen for Cartier. It has as much to do with the longevity of the designs and how stunningly well historic ones do at auction.
“We’re fortunate that are our pieces also tend to sell at auctions for very significant premium. We really want to transcend fashion, and create something that will stand the test of time,” says Abramo proudly. One needs only look at the record-breaking items in the estates of Elizabeth Taylor and the Duchess of Windsor (including her 19.7-carat emerald engagement ring) to get the idea that Cartier pieces more than hold their value with or without historical context.
“Cartier stays very independent of fashion, we’re much more influenced by our own archival designs. Our designers want to make sure that what they make will be relevant 100 or even 200 years from now, which is a lot of pressure,” says Abramo.
These same precious pieces are later viewed by serious buyers in the private viewing room, which in the Miami store, was deigned to honor the style of Jeanne Toussaint, Cartier’s legendary Creative Director of High Jewelry from 1933-1970. The cozy room features a custom piece of art featuring a Panthere bas-relief by an artisan named Etienne Rayssac. If you get a chance to see it, it means you’re about to have a brand new piece of Cartier that will last a lifetime- and more.