A Brief History of Cartier Trinity | Savoir Flair

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Jewelry
A Brief History of Cartier Trinity
article GRACE KELLY | EDWARD QUINN
by Mimi Droeshout 9-minute read April 23, 2024

A retrospective glance at one of the jewelry world's most iconic designs.

In 1924, Cartier, the legendary French jewelry maison, unveiled a creation that revolutionized the conventions of the craft. The Trinity ring, composed of three intertwined bands of platinum, yellow gold, and rose gold, broke away from Cartier’s traditional focus on precious stones. 

The design's simplicity belied its symbolic strength, with each band representing the profound bonds of friendship, fidelity, and love – a trinity of values that resonate deeply even 100 years later. 

In the decades that followed, the Cartier Trinity style transcended its origins as a singular ring to become a true cultural phenomenon, inspiring entire collections of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. An immediate sensation in the Parisian artistic scene, French poet and playwright Jean Cocteau became one of the ring's most ardent ambassadors. From the Hollywood elite to the international jet set, the design became a coveted accessory, a subtle yet powerful statement of one's affiliation with the cultural vanguard.

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Through daring reinterpretations, innovative material combinations, and an unwavering commitment to craftsmanship, Cartier has ensured that Trinity remains a timeless icon, a piece that continues to captivate and inspire with each passing year. As it celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2024, Trinity stands as a testament to the maison's ability to create designs that stand the test of time, forever etched in the annals of jewelry’s proverbial history books.

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news_item ARCHIVES CARTIER PARIS

1924

It was in this pivotal year that Cartier first imagined the Trinity ring, a piece composed of three intertwined, mobile bands in platinum, yellow gold, and rose gold.

Louis Cartier and his team of skilled artisans embarked on a journey of innovation, daring to break free from the traditional focus on precious gemstones that had long defined the world of high jewelry. The result was a piece that was both strikingly simple and deeply symbolic, a true masterpiece of design and craftsmanship.

Symbolizing friendship, fidelity, and love, bound together in an unbreakable bond, everything about the Trinity ring was daring and avant-garde. The chromatic combination of platinum, yellow gold, and rose gold was unprecedented, a bold departure from the monochromatic norms of the time.  Moreover, the simple design hid plenty of technical complexity. None of the three bands sat above or below the others; instead, they existed in perfect harmony, each occupying a position of equal importance. 

The Trinity ring was an immediate sensation, capturing the imagination of the art world and beyond. Its poetic and technical brilliance positioned it as a true predecessor of modernity, a harbinger of the avant-garde aesthetic that would come to define the 20th century. Cartier had not only created a masterpiece of jewelry but had also established a new paradigm for design, one that celebrated simplicity, symbolism, and the beauty of pure form.

In the same year, Cartier further solidified Trinity's status by introducing a matching bracelet, cementing the design's distinctive codes and ensuring its place as a defining style statement for the Maison. Trinity had arrived, and with it, a new era of modern jewelry design had begun.

news_item JEAN COCTEAU | BORIS LIPNITZKI/ROGER-VIOLLET

1930

In the 1930s, the Cartier Trinity ring solidified its status as an emblem of avant-garde sophistication, thanks in no small part to its celebrated creator, Jean Cocteau. The French poet, playwright, and artistic visionary Cocteau’s personal connection to Trinity imbued the ring with a deeper symbolic resonance, one that transcended mere adornment. To the avant-garde circles he moved in, Trinity became a subtle yet powerful statement of allegiance to the principles of artistic freedom, individuality, and the pursuit of beauty in its purest form.

Cocteau's influence on Trinity extended far beyond its initial conception. As a central figure in the Parisian artistic scene of the era, he became one of the ring's most ardent ambassadors, frequently seen wearing two Trinity rings stacked atop one another on his pinky finger. This distinctive styling choice quickly became a hallmark of Cocteau's inimitable flair, capturing the imagination of his contemporaries in the art world. Prominent figures such as the actor Gary Cooper were seen adopting Cocteau's signature styling, stacking two Trinity rings as a subtle nod to his influence. This organic dissemination of the Trinity's codes further amplified its status as a coveted accessory among those who prized creativity, nonconformity, and the avant-garde spirit.

news_item GRACE KELLY | GETTY IMAGES

1950 - 1960

As the world emerged from the shadows of war, the 1950s and 1960s ushered in a new era of glamour, sophistication, and artistic expression – and the Cartier Trinity ring found itself at the center of this cultural renaissance. During these transformative decades, the iconic design became a coveted accessory among the Hollywood elite and international jet set, reemerging as a status symbol once again.

Trinity's popularity soared to new heights as it adorned the hands of some of the era's most celebrated stars. Grace Kelly and acclaimed actress Romy Schneider embraced Trinity, incorporating it into their casual yet impeccably stylish ensembles, showcasing the versatility of the design. The French actor Alain Delon made the Trinity ring his signature accessory, often pairing it with tailored suits and turtlenecks.

As the decades progressed, Cartier continued to evolve the Trinity collection, introducing new iterations and variations that captured the spirit of the times. In 1967, the Maison unveiled a bold seven-band variation of the iconic bracelet. These daring new designs not only expanded the Trinity's range but also reflected the era's embrace of maximalism and opulence.

Click through the gallery below to see some of the most notable Cartier Trinity muses.

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gallery GRACE KELLY | EDWARD QUINN
gallery ROMY SCHNEIDER | BRIDGEMAN IMAGES
gallery GARY COOPER | GETTY IMAGES
gallery JEAN COCTEAU | GETTY IMAGES
gallery ALAIN DELEON | PATRICE HABANS/PARISMATCH/SCOOP
gallery PRINCESS DIANA | GETTY IMAGES
gallery KATE MIDDLETON | GETTY IMAGES

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news_item LES ATELIERS ABC/ARCHIVES CARTIER PARIS

1973

In 1973, Cartier launched Les Must de Cartier, an innovative collection that brought the iconic Trinity design into the realm of everyday accessories. The team behind this bold move conceptualized the notion of "you Must have," giving birth to the Les Must line. 

Cartier seamlessly integrated Trinity's recognizable three-ring motif into a range of lifestyle products. Lighters, pens, and decorative objects were adorned with the Trinity's distinctive bands, allowing the iconic design to elegantly become a part of daily life. 

The Les Must de Cartier era was a pivotal moment for the maison, as it not only democratized access to Cartier's iconic designs but also played a crucial role in reviving the brand's haute joaillerie offerings. The extraordinary popularity of Les Must attracted a new generation of clients, reminding the world of the enduring importance and desirability of Cartier's exceptional jewelry. Trinity's codes, once reserved for the most prestigious pieces, now adorned functional objects, elevating the mundane and allowing individuals to experience the brand's unparalleled craftsmanship and design in unexpected ways.

news_item DOCUMENTATION CARTIER PARIS

1981

The year 1981 marked a significant milestone for the Cartier Trinity as the maison introduced a new iteration of the iconic design as part of its Les Must de Cartier collection. For Trinity, this meant the debut of a three-band ring crafted in the collection's signature trio of golds – white, yellow, and rose. However, this was no mere reissue; the Les Must de Cartier Trinity ring bore a distinctive engraving on its rose gold band, proudly proclaiming its affiliation with the new line. This engraved detail was more than just a mark of provenance; it was a bold statement of Cartier's commitment to bringing its most revered designs to a wider audience. By emblazoning the Trinity with the Les Must de Cartier name, the maison imbued the ring with a sense of inclusivity and accessibility, inviting a new generation of admirers to experience the magic of this creation.

news_item MARIAN GÉRARD, COLLECTION CARTIER

1990

As the 20th century drew to a close, Cartier cemented Trinity's status as an iconic collection by officially adopting the name "Trinity" for the three-band, three-gold ring design. This formal designation was a testament to the lasting impact and recognition the design had achieved over the decades.

In the 1990s, Cartier reimagined the Trinity ring with distinctive proportions that captured the spirit of the era. The bands were resized and reshaped, reflecting contemporary trends while retaining the essence of the original design. This evolution ensured that Trinity remained relevant and desirable, appealing to a new generation of jewelry enthusiasts.

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2010

The 2010s ushered in a new era of creativity and experimentation for Cartier's iconic Trinity collection. As the brand celebrated the design's enduring legacy, it sought to breathe new life into the classic trio of intertwined bands through bold reinterpretations and innovative material combinations.

In 2011, Cartier introduced Trinity models that explored a darker aesthetic, pairing white gold with sleek black ceramic. This daring fusion of materials once again challenged traditional notions of jewelry design, appealing to a more modern sensibility while retaining Trinity's unmistakable essence.

The following year, the 2012 Christmas collection saw Trinity adorned with an array of precious stones, including pearls, diamonds, and vibrant-colored gemstones. From elegant pearl pendants to dazzling sapphire and diamond-paved rings, Cartier demonstrated its mastery of haute joaillerie. Beyond reinventing the classic Trinity ring, Cartier expanded the collection's horizons with novel designs such as the Trinity scarf necklace. This stylish offering featured three interwoven gold chains – pink, yellow, and white – accented with diamonds, allowing the wearer to drape the iconic Trinity design around their neck.

news_item ANTOINE PIVIDORI/CARTIER

2022

In 2022, Cartier embarked on a rare and exciting collaboration, inviting Chitose Abe, the founder of Sacai, into its hallowed ateliers. This unprecedented partnership marked a departure from Cartier's traditional approach, as the renowned jeweler had seldom, if ever, opened its doors to clothing designers.

For Abe, whose design philosophy centers on deconstructing and reinterpreting classic silhouettes, the opportunity to work with Cartier's iconic Trinity ring proved irresistible. 

Abe's reimagining of the Trinity ring was a bold and inventive affair. She extended two of the intertwined bands, allowing the design to be worn across multiple fingers simultaneously. This unconventional approach challenged the notion of how the Trinity should be worn, inviting wearers to embrace a more fluid and expressive interpretation.

The resulting six limited-edition pieces encapsulated the spirit of experimentation that defined this collaboration. Abe's unique perspective breathed new life into the century-old icon through the reimagined Trinity.

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2024

As the Cartier Trinity celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2024, the maison honors this iconic design with two bold new interpretations and the reissue of the coveted XL bracelet.

First, a cushion-shaped Trinity ring emerges, offering a fresh geometric perspective on the familiar interwoven bands. With the same fluid mobility as the original round design, the bands gracefully slide one above the other in this distinctive new shape. This reinvented silhouette forms the centerpiece of a new collection featuring classic and large model rings crafted entirely in gold or lavishly paved with diamonds, accompanied by a bracelet and pendant.

Taking innovation a step further, Cartier introduces a singularly modular Trinity design. This transformative piece can be worn as a wide, seamless band or unfurled into three separate, interlocking rings at the wearer's discretion. As the bands shift and move, they reveal a dazzling display of diamonds, injecting a sense of kinetic energy into the design. This modern, almost architectural interpretation celebrates Trinity's inherent flexibility and freedom of expression.

But no 100th anniversary would be complete without revisiting an icon from the past. In January 2024, Cartier reissued the legendary Trinity XL bracelet, a true cult creation in a spectacular, maximalist form. Three oversized bands replicate the mesmerizing mobility and fluidity of the original ring design but are scaled to encircle the wrist dramatically. Cartier has amplified the volume of the trio, resulting in a statement piece that underscores Trinity's timeless modernity.

Accompanying this reimagined XL bracelet is an equally imposing XL ring. Its impressive proportions command attention, yet the design remains true to Trinity's essence – the iconic blend of white, yellow, and rose gold bands that move seamlessly in perfect synchronicity.

Honoring its storied past while boldly propelling it into the future, Cartier cements Trinity's enduring relevance. The chromatic trilogy, clean lines, and signature mobility remain ever-present, a testament to the design's unwavering allure across a century of style revolutions.

Click through the gallery below to discover the Cartier Trinity 100th anniversary campaign, featuring Global ambassadors Yara Shahidi, Jisoo, Paul Mescal, and Jackson Wang.

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