Back in 1919, French artistic director Jeanne Toussaint introduced the cat to Cartier's fine jewelry collection. She had a love for the exotic, often showing up to formal events in silk pajamas and turbans with long strings of pearls. The lithe panther soon became her signature motif.
In 1948, the Duchess of Windsor commissioned Toussaint to design a brooch featuring a golden cat with black enamel spots crouching over an emerald cabochon, which marked the beginning of many more feline pieces.
The panther is still one of Cartier's signature designs, and roughly a dozen pieces featuring the panther are introduced each year. For many, the animal symbolizes freedom, elegant femininity and a hint of its wild and dangerous nature.
If you're looking to add a statement piece to your antique jewelry collection, a panther or other wild cat would be the perfect choice. A vintage cocktail ring, bracelet, brooch or necklace featuring the feline could add a touch of elegance and a hint of ferocity to any outfit. Animal-printed designs are a bonus.