Jean Dinh Van for Cartier

An 18ct Gold Ankh Ring

A stylish 18ct gold ring by Cartier c.1970s, designed by Dinh Van as part of his collaboration with Cartier during the late 1960s and early 1970s, the ring formed of one continuous length of rounded gold wire wrapped twice around the finger and finished at one end with a rounded loop sweeping up the finger and at the other end a curved tail, both of which have been flattened to increase the width and contrast with the main body of the ring. The ring is a stylised version of the ancient Egyptian Ankh or key of life symbol. It was one of the most common decorative motifs in ancient Egypt and has been used ever since, adopted by other cultures and religions and becoming a popular symbol in the West with the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

Further Details

Condition ReportVery fine
Setting18ct gold signed Cartier and Dinh Van and marked 18k
Weight description6 grams
DimensionsUK finger size M, US size 6.25

Directors Notes

Born just outside Paris in 1927 to a French mother and Vietnamese father, Jean Dinh Van is regarded as something of a revolutionary in the history of 20th Century jewellery design. After studying drawing at the École des Beaux-Arts he went to work for Cartier where he spent many years at the workshop bench, first training and eventually creating jewellery for high profile clients such as the Duchess of Windsor. However, the spirit of freedom that permeated the 1960s was calling to him and he began to feel increasingly frustrated by what he perceived as the overly formal constraints placed upon jewellery design. He felt jewellery was becoming a ‘prisoner of tradition’ and he dreamt of designing bold, sleek pieces that would reflect what he saw happening in other areas of contemporary design, such as clothing, art and furniture. He wanted to redefine luxury jewellery to mean pieces that were simple and bold, pieces that women could wear all day every day, not just for special occasions. In 1965 he established his own workshop in Place Gaillon in Paris and collaborated with designers such as Pierre Cardin for whom he designed the now iconic ‘Two Pearl’ ring in 1967. The gold jewel was remarkable for its square shaped shank which housed a pair of differently colours pearls able to spin freely within their partially enclosed setting. The shape of this ring would inspire many variations over the years and is now deemed so significant that it is part of the permanent collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Further collaborations with clients as diverse as Paco Rabanne and De Beers followed and, most significantly, with his old employer Cartier. Today, pieces that carry both the Cartier and Dinh Van signatures are particularly collectable.


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