That’s right, everyone! You may may have thought Tutti Fruit was a song (by Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and even Queen), or a dessert, or even a place to work. But no, gem gals. I’m here to tell you it’s a necklace! And an absolutely stunning one at that.
This month, I’m doing a series on famous necklaces, and this is one of my favorites. Designed by the iconic Cartier, it’s made up of carved emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. So let’s get to it! Here, in no particular order, are six things about the Tutti Frutti necklace.
1. Originally not Tutti Frutti
Thank goodness, right? Such a silly name for such an elegant piece. Originally called the Collier Hindou (translated as “Hindu collar”), the style was extremely popular in the 1920’s. It wasn’t renamed the Tutti Frutti until the 1970’s. Cartier must have trademarked the term, because similar pieces by other designers are referred to as “fruit salad.” I guess they went with Tutti Frutti because they thought it sounded light-hearted, fun, and colorful.
I’m still on the fence…..
2. It has an Indian design influence.
Cartier, like other designers in the early 20th century, experimented with Indian design techniques and motifs. Besides being huge fans of emeralds and rubies, the Indians were fond of carving their gemstones with designs featuring fruit, berries, flowers, and leaves. Keep in mind that India was in the the age of the Mughal Empire, and the maharajahs (the rulers) were incredibly wealthy. And they loved to show off their wealth with jewelry.
Cartier was in India in 1911 to celebrate King George V’s coronation. In addition to being King of England, George was also being named Emperor of India. I mean, really, how boring to just rule one nation…… Anyway, while Cartier was there, he was inspired by all the gorgeous things he saw, and brought back lots and lots of gemstones to use for his own designs.
I should mention that it wasn’t just Cartier who came away thinking the Indians had some pretty stuff. As travel to India gradually became more common for wealthy tourists, the Indian styles made their way back to Europe. And America.
Even though Cartier designed a lot of Indian-inspired pieces, none became as famous as the Tutti Frutti necklace. The Indian style of jewelry was written up in both Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar as the “very height of fashion.” It was very trendy at the time.
3. Exoticism, and Art Deco design
The late 1920’s and 1930’s are considered the height of the Art Deco period, and nothing was more Art Deco than exoticism. What’s exoticism, you say? Well, it was an obsession with all the culture and art of the East, which Westerners had never seen before, including India, China, and Japan. The famous play, Ballet Russes, ran from 1909 to 1929. It was originally performed in Paris, but eventually made its way throughout Europe, and then to North and South America. The ballet was eye-opening for its use of color. No one had seen anything like the costumes and jewelry worn in the ballet.
The Cartier Tutti Frutti designs continue to be one of their most recognizable motifs. Even today, you can explore online and see plenty of their work. It really is all about the bright color palette.
4. Thank Daisy Fellowes!
Daisy Fellowes was an amazing jewelry collector and in her time, she was also an extraordinary fashionista. Newspapers detailed what and who she wore. It helped that she was extremely wealthy, as she was the heiress to the Singer sewing machine fortune.
She asked Cartier to create the necklace in 1936 from three separate pieces she had purchased earlier – a necklace and two bracelets. When the necklace was finished, it had a total of 785 gems! It was held together with silk chords, as was the style, so you could tighten or loosen as necessary.
From what I’ve read, Daisy loved the attention she received when she wore the necklace.
5. Tutti Frutti pieces command high prices
Just recently, two Tutti Frutti bracelets sold for over $2 million. One in 2013, and one in 2014. One of them belonged to Evelyn H. Lauder, daughter-in-law of the famous Estee Lauder.
A lucky person discovered a tiny Tutti Frutti pin at a flea market in the UK for $60. In 2014, it sold it at auction for $17,550. Nice!
6. The necklace is back with its creator.
After the necklace passed through Daisy’s descendants, it showed up at auction in Geneva, Switzerland in 1991. Although Sotheby’s wouldn’t say, it was supposedly consigned by Daisy’s great-grandson, Amaury de a Moussaye. The original auction estimate was $650,000 to $950,000, but in the end, it was Cartier who purchased the piece. For $2,655,172! That’s one hell of a record price!
Cartier keeps the necklace as part of its private collection, where it travels to museums around the world.
You can own Tutti Frutti pieces too!
Cartier continues to create Tutti Frutti pieces today. Check out their latest design, the Collier Rajastan. There’s a huge carved emerald in the center that can also be worn as a brooch. It took over 5000 hours to make! Wow. I don’t even want to venture a guess as to what this would cost….
What do you think about the Tutti Frutti pieces? Are you a fan? Let me know in the comments below.