The House of Cartier was founded in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier and initially gained prestige as the purveyor of jewelry to the French imperial family and bourgeoisie. The discovery of diamond deposits in South Africa in the 1860s also enabled Cartier to use more diamonds in its pieces. In 1899 Cartier moved to the rue de la Paix where the flagship store still remains today.

Cartier pioneered the use of platinum in creating graceful jewelry of filigreed design (the Garland Style), a trademark of Cartier pieces. During the Art Deco Period (1920-1930) Cartier became noted for its pieces which had many carved stones in bold color combinations. The style became known as "fruit salad" or  "tutti-frutti" and consisted of carved pieces of jade, emerald, ruby and blue sapphires accented with diamonds. Today Cartier’s pieces from the Art Deco time period are highly prized and fetch hefty prices at auction.

Cartier continued to be run by the Cartier family until 1964 when a group of investors acquired Cartier Paris, Cartier London and eventually Cartier New York. In 1979 Cartier's three separate branches were united as "Cartier World." Today the Cartier headquarters is in Paris and the firm is a wholly owned subsidiary of Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, a Swiss company specializing in high end luxury goods.