Modern Jewellery Icons #9: Boucheron Quatre Ring

In our ninth edition of the Modern Jewellery Icons series, we invite you to discover the boundary-pushing Quatre ring design by French jewellery house Boucheron. Based on four historic motifs discovered in the Boucheron archives, this ground-breaking ring has an interesting past and a bright future. Let’s take a closer look at what makes the Boucheron Quatre ring so significant…

Boucheron was founded in 1893 by Frédéric Boucheron, the son of a draper who envisioned success through creativity and craftsmanship. He found a passion for creating wearable works of art made from the most precious of metals and gems. His passion for jewellery-making became his raison d’être, inspiring him to create jewels for women with free and empowered spirits. Bringing innovation and new ideas to the world of jewellery has guided Maison Boucheron for four generations and has resulted in more than 160 years of fine and high jewellery collections. In 1879, Boucheron turned the high jewellery world upside down with the creation of the Question Mark necklace – an asymmetric piece which removed the need for a clasp, providing a more modern and elegant feel, all whilst maintaining the aesthetic and air of utmost luxury. Some 125 years later, the Quartre ring came to fruition.

Alex Chung wearing Quatre Classic Edition pendants and ring in gold, rose gold and enamel by Boucheron

The birth of the Quatre Ring design

Created in 2004, the first Boucheron Quatre ring was made to celebrate the delicate balance between heritage and individuality. A fusion of four completely distinct rings, each one of which is individually fashioned, they are joined together to create one genderless and urban piece of fine jewellery. The onset of this uniquely versatile piece was spurred by a choice of four archival motifs found in the Boucheron archives. Each of these patterns honours specific facets of Boucheron’s design history.

The first is the Double Godron band, a pattern which first appeared in Boucheron creations in the 1860s. Architectural yet fluid, two thin bands are melded together with a thin division line marking their separate structures, representing the union of two souls in love. The second motif present is the Clou de Paris, in which gold is imprinted with a cobble-stone pattern reminiscent of those found on the roads of Paris’ Place Vendôme. The third band - a thin line of round brilliant-cut diamonds - expresses Boucheron’s love of precious gems. Finally, the fourth band in the Quatre ring design brings the wearer back to where it all began, in the hands of a draper’s son. The Grosgrain motif mimics the ribbed silk fabric used to create ribbons in Haute Couture garments. It is also an ode to the design skill that put Boucheron jewels on the map, creating pieces as supple and delicate as precious fabrics.

Activist Nour Arida wearing a selection of Quatre collection pieces in gold, pink gold, white gold, enamel and diamond by Boucheron

Each one of these is individually designed and then pressed together to create the final Quatre ring design. A firm believer in using technology to complement traditional jewellery making rather than replacing it, Boucheron artisans use a series of machines and mechanisms to create and assemble Quatre rings. Crafting each band requires a level of precision and exactness that the human hand cannot manage, and so they are done using digitally controlled machines that sculpt the gold to shape the inside and outside of the ring’s bands. A press is used to bind the four bands together without glue or solder.

The evolution of the Quatre design

The Quatre era began with a single ring in 2004; however, since then, this singular design has become an evolving and ever-growing collection. Boucheron has now included stackable bracelets into the Quatre repertoire, as well as sautoirs, collar necklaces, earrings and ear clips. Most recently, a hair jewel was introduced in 2023, providing yet another way to wear this versatile design.

Model wearing the original Quatre ring design in gold, pink gold, white gold, enamel and diamond by Boucheron

Boucheron has added various colours and advanced industry materials to its Quatre pieces, too. In 2011, the White Edition was born, in which the Clou de Paris band was coated in white ceramic, creating a fresh new edition. This was then followed by the Black Edition that same year, which repeated the same design in an emboldened black variation. This Black hue was achieved using PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition), a vacuum coating process that fixes the surface colour by evaporation to give a brilliant shine. This was eventually rolled out in more vibrant colour ways, including blue and red, using a unique material called Hyceram®- a hybrid of ceramic and polymer compound that gives an intense and high-quality appearance.

In 2021, adventurous creative director Claire Choisne reached out to Saint-Globain, a French company that specialises in making reflective glass components for aeroplanes and asked to incorporate their materials into the Quatre collection, which led to kaleidoscopic and unique colour variations within a single piece of jewellery. Deciding to further test the ‘precious’ definition of materials, Choisne introduced Cofalit® - a material made of upcycled industrial waste through a unique vitrification process. To date, this is the most recycled matter there is and has been dubbed “final material”. The latest addition to the Quatre design Rolodex is the Quatre Aluminium- a capsule collection created from resin and aluminium, a material eight times lighter than gold, and pavé diamonds, providing a futuristic aesthetic to the Quatre motif.

Boucheron x Saint-Gobain Quatre cuff and Quatre Aluminium ring in white gold, aluminium, enamel and diamond by Boucheron

The 20th anniversary

This year, Boucheron celebrates 20 years of its iconic Quarte motif - two decades of inimitable style. In the words of Hélène Poulit-Duquesne, CEO of Boucheron: “You can’t create an icon. Icons are wrought over time, and they gain that status because they strike a chord with people.”

After 20 years of repeated success and reinvention, the Quatre by Boucheron collection has gained iconic status in the world of luxury jewellery. To celebrate this landmark milestone, Boucheron has decided to redesign the Quatre motif by re-examining each of the four archival codes around which the original Quatre ring was designed. The result is a brand-new collection that maintains the aesthetic of the original Quatre design, however, with the added specifics of fluidity and movement. Each anniversary Quatre design unfolds and bends, much like a flowing ribbon. To create this agile shape, the skilled artisans at Boucheron assembled over a hundred individual parts by hand to create a perfectly articulated link, thereby ensuring that the original aesthetic of the 2004 ring was respected whilst also maintaining even flexibility across the entire piece. This brand-new Quatre collection includes seven pieces – two necklaces, three bracelets, a hair jewel and a precious belt. The collar necklace is created from around 50 repetitions of the four bands, and the new Quatre bracelets together form a spool that can hold up to 12 stacked bracelets, including two cuff bangles and ten bracelets, all of which honour the collection’s code.

A final highlight of the 20th-anniversary celebration is the release of a high jewellery edition of the Quatre jewellery design. An ultra-precious set including a ring, a bracelet and a choker has been released, featuring rows of spessartite garnets along the Double Godron band, followed by yellow sapphires set along the Grosgrain ribbon band.

What is next for the Quatre ring?

The journey of the Quatre collection by Boucheron is far from finished. From its starting shape of textured gold and diamond bands to its evolution to include vibrant injections of colour made from scientifically developed coatings and coloured precious gemstones, the design versatility of the Quatre collection seems to be endless. We can say with certainty that with Choisne’s love of technology and the Maison’s historic aptitude for procuring the rarest and most beautiful gems, there are still great things to be seen from this modern yet historic design.

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