As a newly engaged person, I’m making a concerted effort to de-escalate the wedding hoopla, and I like to think I have enough self-awareness to know that the whole world does not revolve around me just because I’m getting married. I see your TikTok rants about selfish brides-to-be who expect you to drop thousands of dollars on their outrageous bachelorette party, and I couldn’t agree more — the entire industry has gotten out of control. However! If Cartier calls with an invitation to try on wedding bands, I’m going to answer (and share my experience with anyone who will listen). I’m just a girl, after all.
The email landed in my inbox a few weeks ago, alongside news that the esteemed French luxury house opened a third New York City store at 102 Greene Street in Soho on November 18. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to visit the boutique and tour the third-floor bridal suite.
Upon arrival, I was struck by the stark contrast between the new Cartier location and the iconic Fifth Avenue one. Aside from the 14-foot iron door designed by William Tarr, the Soho boutique is quite subtle and blends right in with its neighbors: Felix Roasting Co. and MCM. Cartier Fifth Avenue, on the other hand, is an Italian Renaissance–style building — aptly named the Cartier Mansion — adorned with distinct red canopies and large windows. The equally grandiose interior features a sweeping central staircase, red carpets, and floor-to-ceiling display cases. The store is often bustling with tourists, and there is usually a line out the door. If you know exactly what you want to buy and you’re craving a quintessentially New York City experience, the Fifth Avenue location will deliver — especially now during the holiday season, when the store is wrapped in a giant red bow and decked out with Christmas lights. But if you want to browse in peace, it can be very overwhelming. Enter Cartier Soho: a less intimidating and more low-key spot that seemingly caters to native New Yorkers.
The restored apartment building feels surprisingly cozy, casual, and intimate, considering the near-priceless jewelry housed inside. The first floor is a gallery dedicated to Cartier icons, home accessories, and care services. It features a modern seating area, multiple murals (including one that pays homage to Cartier’s emblematic panther), and a winding staircase that invites guests to the second-floor speakeasy, where coffees, teas, juices, and mocktails are served right alongside Cartier diamonds for the ultimate sip-and-shop experience. The concept alone is quite impressive, but the bar itself — which is cut from exquisite green marble that was also used for the elevator floors — is what really caught my attention. It boasts an open floor plan with booth seating, creating a communal environment that makes customers feel at ease and removes some of the anxiety that comes with making a big purchase. While touring the space, I thought back to times I felt pressured into buying luxury items I didn’t actually want, simply because of the seriousness and formality of high-end designer stores; the Cartier Soho speakeasy is the antithesis of that without lacking in style. And in my opinion, it will foster well-thought-out purchases that customers feel confident about.
I then made my way up to the fourth-floor terrace and rooftop garden, which will open to select guests in spring 2024. There are no products on this floor; it will be used solely for entertaining purposes. And if I were a true Cartier VIP, the private indoor-outdoor space is exactly where I would want to be for a summer happy hour or sunset cocktail party.
Next up? I went back down to my new favorite happy place: the third-floor bridal suite. I was pampered with an Americano and a three-tier tray filled with sweet treats and small bites. My sales associate and I chatted about my relationship, engagement, personal style, and wedding plans for nearly 30 minutes. She really got to know me before selecting a variety of rings for me to try on — from the iconic LOVE wedding band to a set of simple yellow-gold bands that could be layered for a stacked look, each one even better than the last. My favorite, though, was the Broderie de Cartier white-gold wedding band that features 2.60 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds. Next to my thin engagement ring, the wide diamond band created a flattering and eye-catching contrast.
I did not leave with a new wedding band, unfortunately. But when my appointment was over, I waltzed down the winding staircase — alongside the Cartier jaguar mural — with a new outlook on all things bridal. The entire experience was so special. Even though my fiancé was not able to join due to a work conflict (don’t worry, I sent him about 15 photos and videos, along with product names, detailed descriptions of every band I tried on, and my definitive ranking of favorite to least favorite so he wouldn’t feel left out), ring shopping at Cartier Soho inspired me to embrace my bridal era and freed me from my fear of being the most annoying person you know. I am engaged to the love of my life, and how fun is that? If I want to celebrate by posting a monthslong countdown to my wedding on Instagram Stories, then so be it. (Kidding … maybe!)