Van Cleef And Arpels: The History And The Stones
There are few things grander in the world of fine jewelry than legendary stones, and the history of Van Cleef & Arpels is a true testament of how ”a pear-shaped diamond weighing over 60 carats, mounted in a pendant" can transform the world into a thing of ravishing beauty.
Each collection aims to inspire its wearers through harmonious creations where precious stones and impeccable craftsmanship collide. From natural breathtaking gemstones and legendary necklaces adorned with carnelian, diamond, lapis lazuli, malachite, mother-of-pearl, tiger’s eye, onyx, pink gold, and turquoise to good luck charms made of wood and precious materials, the House of Van Cleef & Arpels is a celebration of boldness and imagination.
The History of Van Cleef & Arpels
The French luxury jewelry brand has been dressing the elite in only the finest of precious stones since 1896. Fueled by their passion for the geometric forms of the burgeoning Art Deco movement along with an ever-lasting love for nature, Alfred Van Cleef and his uncle Salomon Arpels were set to create one of the most prominent jewelry labels of all time. The Alhambra collection, a lavish combination of yellow gold with the pure lines of the Alhambra motif, marked the beginning of the House of Van Cleef & Arpels.
Van Cleef & Arpels First Collection
The collection was a celebration of nature, with precious stones like the mother-of-pearl, turquoise, onyx, malachite or bois d’amourette. How? According to history "The gold is then melted to give form to its pearled setting, and hand-finished by a jeweler. Round diamonds of different diameters cover the surface of the piece, producing a stunning play of light. The whole piece is polished to bring out the luminosity of every detail."
Inspiration and innovation
Throughout the years, Van Cleef & Arpels continued to create some of the most emblematic, cultural-inspired fine jewelry predominantly inspired by the Egyptian culture, as well as Japanese, Chinese and Indian stylings. Van Cleef & Arpels created a platinum and diamond secret wristwatch in 1923, followed by the Cadenas watch, the Minaudière, the Passe-Partout and the Mystery Set.
Although the prominent precious gemstones were enough to make Van Cleef & Arpels true jewelry-making icons, it was really their Mystery Set technique that set them to become one of the most recognizable fine jewelry houses to this day. In a time when most metal closures were visible they created an innovative technique "the Mystery Set technique consists of setting precious stones in such a way that the metal becomes invisible."
Van Cleef & Arpels dressing the elite
Each one of their collections has been worn by style icons such as Farah Pahlavi, the Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, and Eva Perón. In 1956 the Maison became the “Official Supplier to the Principality of Monaco.” From the first brick-link mesh Ludo bracelet and the dual snake chain bracelet to the uniquely elegant Passe-Partout (the first transformable pieces created by Van Cleef & Arpels. It can be worn as a necklace, choker, long necklace, bracelet, or belt) they were set to create fabulously dazzling pieces that stand the test of time.
1949 marked the beginning of the first sophisticated man’s watch collection by Pierre Arpels.
Around 1957 the “Camellia” design was created. A piece that featured alternating rows of circular-cut diamonds and sapphires inspired by the Camellia flower.
The Maharani of Baroda placed several unique orders with Van Cleef & Arpels, including a necklace set with more than 220 carats of emeralds from her personal collection.
The luxury jewelry house continues to be one of the world’s most desirable fine jewelry brands with each one of their former and newer collections revolutionizing what fine jewelry is.