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French Jeweler Dinh Van Launches Limited Edition, Eyes U.S. Development

PARIS — French jewelry brand Dinh Van wants to lock its heritage in, with a limited-edition take on its signature “Menottes Dinh Van” handcuff design.

Six versions have been created for the occasion, named after their diameter in millimeters. There are four R10 necklaces with a round cut malachite, coral, lapis lazuli or chrysoprase stone floating at the center, in a nod to a 1967 ring created for Pierre Cardin featuring two pearls that could spin in a gold frame.

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The reversible R35 necklaces feature a slice of hard stone on each side, with lapis lazuli paired with mother-of-pearl and malachite with onyx. Available from Thursday in Europe, the range is slated to land in the U.S. in April.

Beyond the new designs themselves, this is an occasion “to talk about the house further and most of all, the vision of Jean Dinh Van,” said managing director Corinne Le Foll, a Cartier veteran who joined the Paris label in January 2022.

Integral to the brand’s identity is that it is “not an occasions-only brand but one for every day,” said Le Foll, congruent with the founder’s desire to see jewelry come out of bank vaults.

“We are very present in important moments and these clients are faithful, returning for further occasions. And due to our history, we are a brand that clients turn to when they want to indulge,” she continued.

For the executive, it was high time to capitalize on this modern heritage that had continued to appeal to a broad clientele in France and take it to the global stage, particularly with the brand’s 60th anniversary coming up in 2025.

Jean Dinh Van, who died in July 2022 at the age of 94, started in 1950 as an apprentice at Cartier, where his father had been a lacquer artist. He launched his own brand in 1965 and although he was a graduate of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, eschewed tradition by not drafting his designs in drawings, preferring to sculpt them directly in gold.

Looking for ways to get his name out there, he created designs for Cardin and Paco Rabanne. In a further sign of his acumen, he even signed a 1967 deal with Cartier New York that saw his pieces co-signed “Cartier Dinh Van” for a decade.

By the time the French jeweler sold the company to a private French investor and subsequently stepped back from the brand in the late ’90s, Dinh Van had become known for its iconoclastic moves, which ranged from mixing gold and steel to being the first to sell Swatch watches in 1980, when they were seen as plastic novelties.

His inspiration stemmed from ordinary objects or from the artists he was acquainted with. To wit, the handcuff design came from keychains chained together and the Maillon collection that was brought back last September owes its square links to the barriers around the Paris Opéra Garnier, near his office.

Earlier in March, the brand also offered a new take on its 1972 Lame de Rasoir (or “razor blade,” in French), inspired by Gillette blades and the founder’s memories of his father’s morning grooming. This punk-inflected gold design was famously worn by French actor Jean-Paul Belmond, and will now be available in three sizes, from the original necklace to smaller versions on cord bracelets.

Now comes the Menottes Dinh Van design, which Le Foll plans to cement as a brand signature and which adds a notion of the founder’s appetite for colored stones, which are given an outing in the limited-edition designs.

This design family continues to grow strongly, with a 40 percent rise compared to pre-pandemic figures, according to the company, which declined to reveal its sales figures.

The R35 Menottes Dinh Van version is also a sign of the company’s strategy of upscaling and its desire to reoccupy its historic territory at the higher end of fine jewelry. It’s already paying off on pieces priced over 5,000 euros, which jumped 52 percent against its 2020 figures, and an overall 45 percent rise on the same period, said Le Foll.

Le Foll credited the brand’s “social cachet” and enduring success among all age groups to an always-contemporary aesthetic. There are already inroads for the brand with a younger, digitally savvy clientele. Take TikTok, where it does not have a formal presence but still counts some 6 million views, said the executive.

The wider ambition is to double sales within the next three years, buoyed by international expansion.

France remains its biggest and most mature market at the moment. Le Foll said the brand would reinforce its heritage and put the accent on the Cube Diamond and Pulse collections. Plans are also to consolidate Europe, starting with Belgium, the second-largest market, where a flagship is due to open in Brussels in May.

A priority is the U.S., a market the brand intends to grow to a “very significant” proportion of its business in that same three-year timeframe.

To date, Dinh Van counts some 30 retailers and department stores including Saks, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s as well as e-commerce. For North America, there are also another 10 doors in Canada. Owing to a core American clientele that’s between 30 and 60 years old, the brand sees an appetite for pieces over 5,000 euros but also sells pieces identified as graduation or birthday gifts from its entry level ranges.

A major axis for its U.S. development is to install the Menottes Dinh Van as a lasting signature and create community in the areas where the brand is currently strongest, including New York, Los Angeles and Texas. While there are no immediate plans for flagships, they will come, according to the executive.

In the meantime, she said Asia is already on the horizon, particularly Korea and China, where the brand aims to open two stores this year.

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