Cartier’s crocodile motif has an intriguing tale behind it. The setting was Cartier’s Rue de la Paix, Paris, the boutique in 1975, when Mexican actress María Félix walked in with a strange companion; a baby crocodile in an aquarium.
Felix wanted the brand’s jewelers to inculcate the crocodile’s face, head, body, legs, and tail as close as possible in a custom-made necklace for her. The result: a necklace consisting of two articulated crocodiles that hugged the neck and that also could be removed from the neck and worn separately as brooches.
When it’s Cartier, simple is passé and glam is in. Out of the two crocodiles on the neck-piece, one was crafted in 18-karat yellow gold and meticulously set with more than 1,000 brilliant-cut fancy intense yellow diamonds weighing 60.02 carats. The second crocodile was sculpted in 18-karat white gold and was set with 1,060 emeralds totaling 66.86 carats. Even the reptile’s eyes were embedded with rubies for one and emeralds for the other.
Obviously, Maria Felix loved the necklace and wore it for years. Today, the original necklace forms part of Cartier’s Collection of exquisite historic jewels. Inspired by Felix and the piece, Cartier has paid homage by releasing a four high-jewelry Cartier Maria Felix collection. In order to maintain utmost precision, the same sculptor was roped into curate the new collection that comprised rare emeralds from Colombia.
For our jewelry-lovers, this tribute-to-nature collection entails drop earrings, a bracelet and ring wherein the crocodile’s body (made of diamonds and emeralds) wrap around the wrist or finger, and a necklace that reflects the original –with crocodile tail ending in three strands of emerald beads that the crocodile clutches. The necklace alone was sculpted of gold, set with diamonds and cabochons and meticulously finished –all to the tune of 1,875 hours of hand craftsmanship. Similarly, the smaller cuff bracelet took Cartier’s master craftsmen more than 1,000 hours to create.