Three Cuff Bracelet
The car racer and jewelry designer Nick Boulle, on how men’s jewelry can mark occasions spectacular or subtle
Design, in my eyes, is one of the most complex and personal sides of the jewelry business. You have to look inside at what brings you inspiration — and around at your world — for something you feel can be shared by, and enjoyed by, the people you serve. For a writer, a book or a story requires a particular voice, depending on its purpose. Often, the difficult and time-consuming portion of any design process — be it for jewelry, watches, interiors, cars, architecture, anything — is the time spent finding a voice. Design is something that touches everyone’s life. Design is everywhere we go. With jewelry, design certainly determines the look of a piece, whether it’s something worn every day or if it’s for making a statement during the most special of occasions. The person and the occasion need to share a voice in that moment. It is this complex idea that makes design such a personal idea. For me, jewelry and watches carry the unique ability to mark the most important moments in life. Those moments can be all too short — so, the right piece is not only a way of celebrating a moment, big or small, but also of extending one.
Boulle’s Biggest Inspiration
I’ve grown up marveling at my mother’s motivations and inspirations in the world around her. She has found it in the far reaches of the planet, and in the earth’s most magical and rare animals. She has certainly found it in many of her own pets. But, she, herself, is an inspiration to me, not only because of the hardships she has endured — immigrating to the United States with no close relatives, battling cancer — but also because she has worked so hard with my father, Denis, to build the business we all work on together today. I consider myself privileged to be working with her on the deBoulle Collection, to continue expanding our men’s line.
When we begin on a design, we usually have a place, a mood or a situation in mind. For what became the Three Cuff Bracelet, I was struck by a vintage photograph of Steve McQueen riding a motorcycle in a racing paddock. He had not one but two female passengers on the back, as he cruised to the start of the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans car race. My experiences before racing at Le Mans have been very different, to say the least, but that photo made me think about what kind of piece a guy might want to wear in a moment like that — when his only thought is race day — and what that piece would look like. For me, it turned out to be a simple gold cuff, augmented along the edges with subtle patterns of the number 3 repeatedly overlaid on itself. In this way, the number 3 happens to also resemble the letter B — a letter most important to de Boulle. From there, we’ve worked on belts, money clips and more, each subtly decorated to recall, just slightly, our company logo. The goal? Leave a small mark, ensuring that the piece speaks most of all to its lucky wearer. Our men’s collection pieces are perfect for engraving with initials or a special date — to make sure the occasion they stem from is remembered forever, and that each piece is proudly passed down. That is what jewelry — and design — can do.
“Design is one of the most complex and personal sides of the jewelry business. You have to look inside at what brings you inspiration, and around at your world.”
– Nick Boulle