Cartier and Cocteau: the Innovators of Pink RingsLouis Cartier and Jean Cocteau are the innovators of pink engagement rings. They were responsible for their popularity in the early 20th century.
Not to be outdone, following my vintage themed dinner party, Bridget decided to have a ‘pretty in pink’ party last weekend. I have to admit that, despite winding F up no end, her competitive nature really does come up trumps sometimes.
It was a great party, even if only for seeing the guys all done out in various pink wigs, bowties, chinos and even wellingtons! Pink is not necessarily my colour either, but there is a little pink in every girl and it was quite liberating to have an excuse to let that much hidden side of me out.
I even had a pink dress ring of my mother’s that I wore, which attracted lots of comments throughout the evening. Perhaps a pink engagement ring could be a possibility for us after all.
In contemporary society, pink engagement rings are only one of many options available to couples. While not the most popular option, pink engagement rings have been found their niche, fuelled by modern society’s desire for individuality and a love of vintage.
Pink engagement rings have been in existence for roughly 200 years, although this unique colour only became popular in Western Europe less than a century ago. Originally appearing in Russia sometime in the 19th century, pink eventually spread to other cities in the Western world at the beginning of the following century, attracting the attention of people, both in the wealthier and less wealthy rungs of society.
Louis Cartier Made the Case for Pink
This increase in popularity can be attributed to Louis Cartier and Jean Cocteau, who together, despite their seemingly divergent personalities (one a jewellery designer, the other a novelist and playwright), can be considered the innovators of pink engagement rings, or at least responsible for promoting them on the engagement ring stage.
Cartier, the famous watchmaker, whose name and collections continue to be held in high regard by watch enthusiasts and designer jewellery fans alike, was the innovator behind pink’s rise to fame.
It was the Frenchman who, in the 1920s, first applied pink or rose gold to an engagement ring band, in what he dubbed the ‘Trinity’ collection. Bands in this design were characterised by their incorporation of three distinct types of gold that we know as pink, white and the traditional yellow.
I also discovered from Millie that the bands were fashioned in a triple configuration, which gave the jewels a unique and innovative look as well as a threefold meaning, with white gold standing for fidelity, yellow gold for friendship and rose gold for love.
And Where Does Jean Cocteau Come In?
There is little doubt that Cartier’s Trinity collection captured the imagination of brides and grooms of the time, but much of the popularity of pink engagement rings in the following two decades can be attributed more strongly to Jean Cocteau.
A prominent name on the French cultural scene, the author who wrote a number of well-known novels, plays and poetry collections and was also a film director, declared himself a fan of pink gold, and wholeheartedly embraced and endorsed the Trinity collection.
With his support, Cartier’s already popular collection reached deeper into French society, launching a spell of popularity for coloured gold jewellery, which did not subside for several decades. In fact, as Bridget pointed out, only recently the Cartier brand put out a special Trinity ring, with an updated design, precisely in honour of Jean Cocteau.
I have to say that I had no idea of the story behind the pink engagement ring and while pink was not a colour that currently featured at the top of our list, that pink party opened my eyes to aesthetic delights of a colour I had often overlooked.