Maurice Coüet (1885-1963) was famous for his invention of the Cartier Mystery Clock. At the age of twenty-six he came to work exclusively for Cartier and later, in 1919 established their workshop at 53 rue Lafayette. It was here with 30 specialists including designers Charles Jacqueau (a pioneer of Cartier's Art Deco style) and Georges Rémy that Coüet would create masterpieces such as the 'Egyptian' temple clock and on rare occasions objects such as the desk-set illustrated here.
It is an excellent example of the strength of design and colour for which Cartier was renowned in the Art Deco period. The powerful geometric form is paired with an unusual combination of materials - in the bold use of the greens and blues of nephrite, malachite, lapis lazuli and sapphire - to produce a remarkable design.
The importance of this desk set is further highlighted by the applied crown motif. Although it has not been possible to assign this crown to a specific provenance, it clearly indicates that this was ordered by an important royal house, worthy of such a colourful and formidable commission.
Cf. H. Nadelhoffer, Cartier Jewelers Extraorinary, Great Britain, Thames & Hudson, 1984, pp. 143, 146, 247-249