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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.

By Merle Robin / December 28, 1984



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.

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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.

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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