The chimaera, a fantastical and terrifying monster of eastern legend, was a principal design within Cartier's oeuvre during the Art Deco period. According to Greek mythology, the chimaera was a fire-breathing monster with the fore-parts of a lion, its middle a goat and its rear a dragon or serpent, who ravaged Lycia until slain by the hero Bellerophon. It subsequently came to symbolise the monstrous. Cartier was enticed by the imaginative and artistic value of this beast and strove to represent it in decorative terms. In the 1920s, Cartier broke free from the archaeological interpretations of the late 19th century to derive an orientalised portrayal of the animal. The Orient, with its fascinating myths and ancient symbolism, provided an unlimited supply of ideas so that Cartier's chimaera combined the Indian makara, the Chinese qilin, the African variants as well as the tradition of animal arm ornaments of the ancient Mediterranean. Cartier employed this motif principally in bangles that were made in the antique style terminating in creature-heads. The chimaera jewel was then set entirely with gemstones - generally rubies, emeralds, yellow and white diamonds. Revived in the 1960s, the circulation of the few chimaera bangles in existence showed that the style appealed to women of self-assurance as well as refinement.
Hans Nadelhoffer, Cartier Jewelers Extraordinary, Great Britain 1984