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dinh van, the free spirit of French jewelry

Iconoclast in its inspiration, essential in shapes, dinh van Maison has carved out its own niche in the codified world of jewelry. Inspired by design, especially Bauhaus movement, it has created its own language that is pure and timeless. In 50 years, the world has changed but its jewelry pieces continue to take their place in perfect modernity.

Jewelry revolution

Modernity in movement

In the mid-Sixties, when jewelry was still prisoner of its tradition, fashion like design were exploring new territories. They expressed the revolution of a society that was entering a new age: Courreges designed the first mini-skirt, Cardin created the first line of unisex clothes and Yves Saint Laurent, the little prince of Haute-Couture, invented the ready-to-wear with Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. Thanks to the development of plastics, Knoll began mass production and democratised design pieces of furniture.

First steps

In this atmosphere of bubbling creativity and women's liberation, Jean Dinh Van, jewelry artist, who worked for ten years as craftsman at Cartier, began to dream of a new jewelry. If fashion was brought out onto the streets why wouldn’t jewelry leap out of its safes? The young troublemaker immortalised his first ideas in 1965, distancing himself from tradition to consider a pure approach to design, he reinvented the precious gem and asserted himself as the free spirit of jewelry.

Birth of a myth

His first great success, a yellow gold ring with square shape, where two pearls of different colors were set, was launched two years later. Created for Pierre Cardin, this ring was distributed in fashion shops. The dinh van style was born. Faithful to his iconoclast spirit, Jean Dinh Van left the traditional place of the Rue de la Paix and Place Vendôme to open his first point of sale at the Publicis Drugstore in the Champs-Elysees. Gifted and visionary, he was chosen as one of the four most talented French jewelers to exhibit at Montreal. For this occasion he met Cartier New York, with whom he signed a distribution agreement for North America. The internationalization of dinh van Maison began.

In the spirit of the times

Sculpting the idea

Traditionally in jewelry, sketches launch the creative process. Jean Dinh Van himself started from material to create his jewels. The proportions are modeled in a succession of prototypes just like a sculpture. However he did not claim this was a work of art, the creator sought a balance between the perfect object and the ease to wear it.

Inspirations from daily life and the quest for the essential

dinh van Maison frees itself from traditional jewelry inspirations such as fauna, flora, symbolic motifs to invent its own vocabulary. Objects from daily life, purely functional, became everyday gems. Handcuffs, locks, pins or razor blades, transformed into stylized and meaningful jewels. Playing with positive and negative spaces like a chorus and some shapes, as the square and the circle became dinh van’s signature. The Maison, impervious to trends, drew its energy from daily life. As beautiful on the inside as on the outside, minimalist yet sensual, balancing primary forms and conceptual art, dinh van designs have transcended decades and genders, and remained timeless for more than fifty years.

Tribal pieces of jewelry

dinh van invented the pieces of jewelry of tribes, that can be passed down from one generation to another. Freed from all cultural and historical references, it can be worn by men or women of any generation. Tribal pieces of jewelry. It is shared more than inherited, a sign that all belong to a contemporary aesthetic and all tend to the universal.

Icons in series

Success can be a stoke of luck. When it is repeated, luck no plays a part. Detailed review of dinh van collections that have become cult.

Maillon - The royal square

Is the classic link round? The dinh van link would have a rectanglar shape with a square section and curved angles, much more difficult to model. Created in the Sixties, it has been developped in different pieces of jewelry and became an entire collection. Beyond the fantasy that pushed to use this original geometric shape as a piece of jewelry, the square is also an ergonomic choice: the finger - recalls Jean Dinh Van - is not round. The quadrilateral has given birth to numerous models since the Maison began: the first ring, in 1967, the Square bracelets in 1969. Today, the wedding bands just like the solitaires have this unique form, namely the square.

Menottes dinh van - A clasp turned a piece of jewelry

The design is above all, based on the observation of the world that surrounds us. It was while looking at a key head that Jean Dinh Van had the idea to reproduce it, in 1976, and to interlace it in a second identical shape. The system is simple but the proportion should be perfect so that the two elements fit in each other. Together these two elements constitute an ideal clasp. While clasps are traditionally concealed in fine jewelry, here dinh van has made the clasp the main feature. Attached either to a gold chain, to a row of pearls or on a single string, the Menottes clasp is becoming the Maison signature.

Seventies - Enhancing the ordinary

2001. dinh van entered the XXIst century but has not forgotten the sources of inspiration that gave it success and modelled its image. A new collection was launched twenty-five years after Menottes. This time it took up the idea of the spring ring on the key ring. A subtle a blend of curves and taut lines, the aesthetics of the Seventies collection were a new success that is not denied today.

Serrure - Functional aesthetics

A bangle without mechanism. Flexible enough to open, rigid enough to retain its shape. Incredibly simple, a light blow of the hammer to flatten it and a discreet yet noticeable clasp, adorned with a diamond for the ultimate enhancing touch.

Spirale dinh van - Precious game

In the early 70’s, dinh van took two gold threads and modelled them into two interlacing spirals. Yellow gold, rose gold or white gold, white diamonds or black in the line was reintroduced in 2013, multiplying the possible combinations to infinity. dinh van, faithful to its own codes, combines again geometric rigor and playful mind. The wearer is free to compose her jewelry to match her desires.

Pi chinois - Perfect circle

In reaction to the law authorizing the use of 9-karat gold, dinh van designs the Pi line in 24-karat gold. Dinh van hammers the pieces to add rigidity to the disc shape he has always favored. In Chinese cosmology, the sky is round and the earth is square. Always infatuated with symbols and materials, dinh van turned the timeless symbol into a sensuous pieces of jewelry. Today, this iconic design is available in gold or silver, as a pendant,as cuff links, on cord bracelets, even as earrings. Each hand-hammered piece is unique, because traditional artisan craftsmanship still holds pride of place in the dinh van world.

Key dates

1965: Jean Dinh Van workshop set up in Gaillon Square, Paris

1967: launch of the Two Pearl ring and the first point of sale at the Publicis Drugstore. Creation of the Paco Rabanne's ring.

1975: dinh van designs the trophy for the De Beers–sponsored Diamond Stakes at Ascot in Great Britain. The ring, made of sterling silver, features a two-carat diamond provided by De Beers.

1976: dinh van opens a boutique at 7, rue de la Paix, Paris, and creation of the Menottes keyring.

1977: opening of boutiques in New York and Geneva.

1984: the Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette debuts its jewelry department, which includes creations by dinh van.

1991: in reaction to the law authorizing the use of 9-karat gold, Dinh Van designs the Pi line in 24-karat gold. dinh van hammers the pieces to add rigidity to the disc shape.

2000: creation of the cord bracelet.

2003: 2 Perles ring, along with other pieces, is exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the permanent gallery of contemporary jewelry.

2004: designer Milan Vukmirovic, cofounder of Colette, reinterprets the iconic Pi discpendant in white agate with yellow gold and in black onyx with silver.

2010: collaboration with Italian designer Lapo Elkann, who creates the Pi Independent line using carbon fiber.

2014: opening of the boutique in Madrid.