A creative spirit and an interest in exceptional art, antiques and jewelry propelled Olivier Bachet along his career path as a jewelry, art and antique expert. Based in Paris, he got his start as an antique dealer specializing in buying and selling antique jewelry and 20th century showcase objects. Bachet has a particular interest and specialization in Cartier and he is the author, along with Alain Cartier, of the book “Cartier: Exceptional Objects”. Bachet is a member of France’s prestigious Compagnie Nationale des Experts (CNE). Founded in France in 1971, the CNE is a group of 190 experts specializing in various areas of arts and antiques, who evaluate precious items. Bachet is also, director of the newly launched International Antique Jewelers Association (IAJA) Expertise. The IAJA Expertise is an assessment of a piece of jewelry, or object, based on careful examination and scrupulous research. Upon successful completion of this process, a Letter of Expertise signed by an IAJA expert is issued for the piece.
Why do you particularly like Cartier?
I became a Cartier specialist because I like what the Maison has created since its move to rue de la Paix. Many of the design houses have made magnificent jewels and I’m not just talking about the companies that most people know, such as Van Cleef & Arpels or Boucheron, I’m referring to the houses that are lesser known to the general public such as Janesich, Lacloche Frères or Marchak. However, Cartier remains my favorite. Cartier’s work is instantly recognizable to anyone with a trained eye, do you know why? It’s because they have been designing since the beginning of the 20th century, which is unique in the jewelry world. Since 1910 there have always been ten designers working full-time at rue de la Paix.
Additionally, Cartier has an enormous advantage. The Maison has produced a tremendous number of pieces and offers a wide range of precious objects — jewelry, watches, showcase objects. Cartier is one of the few design houses that produces a range of objects in a diversity of unique styles that are iconic to the house. Their work spans time from the Belle Epoque and Art Deco eras to now. Cartier has a creativity and diversity that no other house is able to offer.
I am a history buff. I appreciate the fact that Cartier, before other companies, was aware that it was necessary to preserve and enhance its heritage and its archives. They also knew it was important to present a collection of emblematic pieces. It was easy to learn about Cartier thanks to the fabulous exhibitions and the marvelous catalogs they put together and published. No one else has done anything like that. Everyone is getting into it now, but Cartier did it long before anyone else.
How did you become an expert for the Compagnie Nationale des Experts?
In order to do a quality expertise and to be recognized as an expert, you have to be part of a company of experts. I believe that this is specifically French, probably due to the history that links France and the Arts. In any case, being a member of the National Company of Experts is a kind of guarantee for the people who contact us to provide an expertise. To enter the Company, you have to be invited and you must prove your expertise on the topic, in our case jewelry.
Can you tell us a little bit about the process of evaluating a piece of jewelry?
The essential prerequisite for carrying out a successful expertise is that you must have the jewelry, or object, in hand. Once you have the piece to examine, you have to know how to look carefully and you have to know what to look for. It is important not to overlook anything, don’t forget a maker’s mark that would give clues to the maker, or a letter that accompanies a number, for example. Depending upon the information, the specifications of a piece can change, the date, the city — Paris or London for example.
Then there is all of the knowledge and information that we have learned and that we have in our heads, that knowledge is still our main database. When you’ve seen hundreds of Cartier pieces you start to know what a gallery looks like, how the security clips are made, or pins, how stock numbers are hit, experience counts for a lot. For example, you know that if you have an Art Deco jewel in your hand that bears the signature of Cartier Paris, but it is poorly made, then you can be sure that it is not authentic. A poorly made Cartier Paris jewel made in 1925 does not exist!
Finally, there is literature. In his book “Cartier”, a magnificent book that is essential to read, Hans Nadelhoffer made a mistake by showing maker’s marks that are poorly represented and false. “False” is a misnomer, they are true in the sense that they are made by jewelers named “Cartier” who are working in Paris and while they have the same surname, they are not the Cartier family and business that we are referencing. These hallmarks continue without question to be published and used, including by counterfeiters who either fraudulently stamp, or engrave, jewelry and objects with the hallmarks of Cartier’s namesakes, just as objects or jewelry legitimately stamped with these same homonymous hallmarks, or with an apocryphal signature “Cartier Paris London New York”.
What do you like to do when you are not evaluating jewelry?
When I am not evaluating jewelry, I spend much of my time painting. I have been painting for a long time and I have been influenced by Extreme Oriental calligraphy. What was initially a simple personal pleasure took another turn. Today, I receive commissions for paintings that I don’t have time to fulfill.
Schedule a meeting with Olivier Bachet at the Original Miami Beach Antique Show, January 19-23, 2023, or contact him regarding a Letter of Expertise at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on What’s App +133622418674.
Featured image (top of page): Olivier Bachet
Authored by Amber Michelle