Wednesday, November 24, 2010


An astounding five million people visit the small town of Lourdes in France. Since the reported ghostly appearance of the Virgin Mary to a young teenage girl over 100 years ago, devout visitors descend on the town each year. France is also home to featured jewelry designer Jean Dinh Van.

Frankly speaking it took me some time to fully appreciate simplistic form in jewelry design.

Like a moth to a flame, for years I have been drawn to more complex and colorful design patterns.

The elegant lines of designer jewelry from Melissa Joy Manning (USA), Sadie Wang (Korea), and Shona Macaulay Fidgett (Scotland) highlight each jeweler’s love for the purity of simple forms.

It is this predilection that has helped to forward my thinking and I realized that cultivating a simplistic form is not as effortless as it seems.

For a stellar 35 years, Dinh Van’s design approach is acutely geared towards accentuating the wearer. His decidedly pared down aesthetic is somewhat mechanistic in its crisp, sharp geometric lines but the visual language is undoubtedly haute.

Harboring a one-time aspiration to become a mariner, the part French part Vietnamese designer found his father’s lacquer craft a powerful influence. He would later design and produce fine jewelry for renowned brand Cartier before branching out on his own.

Once he established his self-titled brand in 1965, he chose to set himself apart from the popular trend of “massive pieces” that were only worn on special occasions, and meant to “impress those who look at them.”

France’s student revolts of the late 60s, his father’s razor blades, the 70s, and the handcuff design of his Menottes Collection are among Dinh Van’s sources of inspiration in which sleek gold diamond earrings, white gold rings, and gold pendants emerge.

“My creations mirror the women who wear them. Necessity of appearance and discomfort is not a part of my ambition,” says Dinh Van. “The entire dimension of these sensual, essential pieces of jewelry is revealed as they become one with those who wear it.”

His smooth design style is immaculately fluid and the satiny black carbon pieces from his Pi Independent Collection add a striking yet understated contrast to the high gloss and hammered metals of sterling silver and 18-karat gold.

His collection of universal symbols that include a heart, key, star, cross, turtle, and clover are nonspecific in their rudimentary, child-like appearance.
It is an intriguing design choice as the oversimplification of these particular renderings are uniquely his.

“My designs offer pure, simple, and gentle shapes to women, men and children making my pieces less formal and more personal.”
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Sur-Impression Chain Pendant Necklace with Red Coral
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Seventies RingPhoto 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Double Sens Bracelet
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