Throughout the history of Cartier, the chimaera, described in Greek mythology as a fire-breathing female monster with a lion's head, a goat's body and a serpent's tail, has been a recurring theme.
In 1883, the initial model was produced. Very different from the firm's more modern ones, it consisted of the monster - wings, scaly comb etc - set within a diamond crescent, a fashionable motif at the time. Variations are recorded as having been created until 1904.
The Art Deco, with its fascination for the exotic, renewed the vogue for the theme. It appeared primarily in bangles and was an amalgam of the animal-head bangles of the ancient Mediterranean, the Indian "makara" and the Chinese dragon. Coral and lapis lazuli were the most frequently used materials.
The 1950s witnessed yet another resuscitation of the chimaera at Cartier under the direction of Jeanne Toussaint. They became less threatening looking and were set in various materials, including once again lapis and coral. Another popular version was that similar to the present example, set in diamonds and other gemstones.