The Beauty that Begins as Beast: Cartier Carat

Apply accordingly for the impact you want this scent to make

There are truly no fragrance categories I dislike, but there are some I like more than others. “Floral” is one of these categories. There are heaps of average quality florals out there, at every price point, and they’re generally pleasant if nothing special. I received lots of floral samples and even full bottles in my time at Fragrantica, and while many were scents for which I wouldn’t have shelled out my own hard-earned cash, I was happy to wear all of them from time to time. Most florals are good for office/daytime wear and some are excellent for romantic date nights, too.

A blue flower with a yellow center, covered in rain drops
Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 on

Did you know Cartier made solid fragrances? I didn’t, until I stumbled across them on Ebay. There are some fancy little containers with Must and Delices solids, but others looks like they were probably part of a gift set or a gift with purchase. (Thank goodness for enterprising Ebay sellers who break up those sets and sell off the individual components! It’s a win for those of us who know we’ll never use the giant bottle of lotion that usually comes in those.)

I have never personally owned a Cartier scent. I’ve enjoyed plenty over the years–especially Delices and Le Baiser du Dragon, but none were ever compelling enough for me to purchase. Cartier Carat was released in 2018, but I don’t recall hearing much about it and it was a blind buy for me when I found the solid on Ebay. Had I sampled it beforehand, I’m not sure I would have sought it out for purchase, but I consider it a successful blind buy. I like the fragrance and have enjoyed wearing its big, beautiful floral bouquet this summer.

Cartier Carat solid perfume in a small glass jar with metallic lid, next to a gray Cartier Carat box, atop a blue floral print background

Cartier Carat Solid Fragrance Review

Size: 0.17 oz./5 g

Packaging: Carat‘s stunning faceted bottle is a major selling point… for the liquid, but the solid is actually packaged in a simple glass jar with a metallic lid. The jar arrived in a small gray cardboard box bearing the brand, name and Cartier logo. The jar is reusable/zero waste. The box appears to be recyclable.

Base: Polyamide-8, isopropyl palmitate, isononyl isonona…. umm, it’s a bunch of chemicals.

Vegan-friendly: Probably, but unknown. The Paula’s Choice website indicates isopropyl palmitate can possibly come from animal sources.

Cartier Carat is a gel-based perfume, with a hint of sparkle

Color and Texture: The fragrance is unique in my collection so far–it’s a gel-based solid that looks almost like a hair care product. However, it’s a very firm gel–there’s no “give” when I press it with a fingertip. The gel itself is a clear pale yellow with some calcium sodium borosilicate flakes, presumably for a diamond-like sparkle, though they’re very fine and largely invisible on skin. It melts upon contact with a fingertip and is easily swiped for application.

Natural perfume or mixed media: The ingredients list includes the catch-all “parfum” and a number of known natural isolates (geraniol, linaool, benzyl benzoate, etc.) The fragrance is likely mixed media.

Fragrance description and notes: “Carat, the new fragrance from Cartier, bottles the seven colors of a prism that converge into a single pure scent, akin to a diamond,” as noted on the Cartier website. Wow, that’s a pretty vague description. So what does it really smell like? Fragrantica sheds a little more light: “The composition represents the colors of the rainbow in the form of flowers; violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red are captured with the notes of violet, lily, hyacinth, ylang-ylang, narcissus, honeysuckle and tulips.” Ah, that’s better. The Fragrantica pyramid also lists some other notes like pear, lime, green notes and musk.

Longevity: Decent, in the 4-5 hour range, though it’s largely a skin scent after two hours. I’ve worn this one only in summertime and I anticipate better results in cooler weather. I will update this review if there’s a noticeable difference.

Sillage: Solids are generally a little softer in the sillage, but a few would qualify as “Beast mode,” to borrow a term used by my male fragrance peers. Carat is a “Beast mode” floral solid for the first 30-60 minutes, with a big projection. It settles comfortably after that to within-arm’s-length range and is a skin scent by the two hour mark. Know this and apply accordingly for the impact you want this scent to make.

The experience: In classical terms, Carat is a hyper-feminine floral. (As I’ve noted before, gender is somewhat a dated concept in fragrance, so if you don’t identify as female but love floral scents, go for it.) If florals aren’t you’re thing, give this one a pass. If you dislike hyacinth in particular, this one will be a no-go as that is the dominant note.

The advertising for this scent features a beautiful young woman with an edgy platinum sci-fi bob, dancing on a rooftop in a hip little romper. I don’t get that “mood” from this fragrance at all. Perhaps this was an aspirational market for Cartier, whose scents (and jewelry) tend to skew mature, classic and tasteful. If you’re a young person who loves florals, you may appreciate the beauty of this one, but you’ll likely reach for your Tocca or Kilian or something from Victoria’s Secret before this one. If you’re over 30 and want to add a dose of femininity while wearing your power suit, or you’re putting on a dress and lipstick for your first date night with your S.O. in a few months, Carat is a good choice.

Upon application, it’s one of the loudest solids in my collection, settling down to an office-safe level after an hour or so. I don’t smell anything in this one to distract us from the flowers–no fruits, no green notes, no musk. Carat comes down on the chic, cool end of the floral spectrum–it’s a pricey florist’s arrangement fresh out of the refrigerated case, rather than hand-picked flowers still warm from the field.

Carat is both classy and unabashedly pretty. It’s arguably a safe blind buy for someone who loves traditionally feminine floral scents. The fragrance is not groundbreaking in any way, but overall, it is nicely done and the notes are expressed well in the solid format. The gel format doesn’t last as long on my skin as the wax-and-oil based solid scents I’ve tried, but perhaps the gel base was chosen to give Carat‘s delicate floral notes a little more lift.

Where to buy: I purchased mine on Ebay, which has plenty of them on offer. My box was labeled “Gift – not for sale,” which suggests it was part of a gift set or gift with purchase. Check the Cartier website and department stores around holiday time to see if the solid makes a return this year.

All photos except flower by me.

By Jodi at Solidly Scented

A lover of all things fragrant