Jewelry outsparkles text in this history of Cartiers; Cartier: Jewelers Extraordinary, by Hans Nadelhoffer. New York: Harry N. Abrams. 293 pp., plus notes and index. Illustrated. $50.

People who watch ''Dynasty'' to admire the fabulous jewels will find similar pleasures in this sumptuously illustrated book by jewel expert Hans Nadelhoffer. Eighty pages of full-color life-sized photographs in addition to scores of black-and-white pictures display a dazzling array of designs: necklaces, bracelets, brooches, tiaras, vanity cases, pens, watches, clocks, buckles, and assorted bibelots in emerald, enamel, lacquer, rock crystal, diamond, sapphire and pearl, onyx, turquoise, jade, gold, and ruby.

There is also a detailed text recounting the history of the firm and some of its famous transactions.

There are chapters about changing fashions in jewelry, tracing the influences that inspired Cartier's designers - from the lavish jewels of India to Faberge's delicate floral creations, from Chinese, Islamic, and Persian motifs to the splendid costumes and colors of the Ballet Russe.

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Cartier's clients included the royal, of course, as well as the royally rich.

This book contains many anecdotes about both kinds of buyers. But the text, though wide-ranging, lacks cohesion. In the final analysis, it is the jewelry that truly sparkles.


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