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Designing Zen
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When Joe, a Minneapolis doctor, wanted to buy a ring from award-winning designer Christopher Duquet last year, he didn’t want a wedding ring or a class ring. Instead, he simply wanted a unique ring for himself.

“It was challenging because it just didn’t fall into the sort of normal project classifications that we usually have. Very few men wear a ring just for personal adornment and for pleasure,” says Duquet, whose custom design shop and jewelry studio is located outside Chicago in Evanston. “But it was very fun to make something that was still ultimately wearable by a man, which had some strength of design to it. It really caught my imagination.”

Knowing that Joe, who had come in with another client, was interested in the Zen principles of time and movement, Duquet came upon the concept of ripples in a smooth lake after pebbles are thrown in, in a kind of time-lapsed photography design. “It’s as though it’s 6 a.m. with no wind or rain, nothing to disturb the surface of the lake. Then you dropped a pebble, waited a minute, and then dropped another,” he explains. “You’d have this pattern on the surface, so that’s what we based the shapes on. It’s sort of to give you the evolution of time.”

The 18k gold ring, which Duquet nicknamed “Three Stones in a Lake,” has a three-dimensional quality, with a window-pane effect meant to present the patterns with a sense of time passing. “There’s really almost a meditative quality to the piece. I wanted the wave shapes to really feel and look like they had substance.”

The project offered Duquet the opportunity to create a piece that was much more imaginative than usual. He continues, “A lot of what we do is grounded in classicism or fashion, while this was much more imaginative on a conceptual level.” The formal qualities of the piece, including the fit and the finish are always important, he points out, but the composition, colors, texture, and scale are all what people react to when they try on a piece of jewelry. “It’s very sensual and tactile, but it’s rare that you can make a piece that has a commentary that doesn’t become literal,” he says. “This was a piece that had a story behind it but the story is very deep and interpretive. Once you place yourself on the shore of that lake and throw stones in the water it can take you anywhere you want it to go.”

The ring took nearly six weeks to make, using the Matrix CAD program to create the design. “We did a lot of sketches and we were just trying to come up with things that were visually interesting, patterns that were unique and asymmetrical and would be something that could hold a lot of interest in a patterned piece, since we really didn’t want to use gemstones,” he explains.

To create the final form, Duquet used both milling and fabrication. The center section was milled because it was a straight forward shape, then the sides were added in metal for a nice clean transition and ease of finishing.

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Christopher Duquet
Christopher Duquet
ring from Christopher Duquet Fine Jewelry Design
“Three Stones in a Lake” ring from Christopher Duquet Fine Jewelry Design, (847) 733-0656.