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Article: Van Cleef & Arpels Brand History

Van Cleef & Arpels Brand History

Van Cleef & Arpels has long been renowned for its masterfully crafted and dreamy jewellery, from delicate flowers to playful animals and flowing ballerinas.

The History of Van Cleef & Arpels

Van Cleef & Arpels has long been renowned for its exquisitely crafted and dreamy jewels, from delicate flowers to playful animals to flowing ballerinas. Van Cleef & Arpels was born to two lovers, Estelle Arpels, the daughter of a jeweler, and Alfred Van Cleef, the son of a stonecutter. After marrying in 1895, the couple launched the Van Cleef jewelry brand, driven by their pioneering spirit and passion for precious stones.

The Maison was founded in 1906 by Alfred and Estelle's brother Charles (later joined by Estelle's other siblings). The two opened a boutique in Paris, directly opposite the Ritz Hotel, on Place Vendôme. This location attracted many European aristocrats who fell in love with Van Cleef & Arpels' creations, and helped to spread the Maison's timeless works around the world. Van Cleef & Arpels continues to use a variety of gemstones in its jewelry, including diamonds, sapphires, and carnelians.

Van Cleef & Arpels has a history of creating exquisite jewels for royalty, celebrities and the extravagantly wealthy: the Maison's jewels have adorned Queen Sofia of Spain, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as today's celebrities such as Mariah Carey and Reese Witherspoon.

Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra Collection

Van Cleef & Arpels' signature collection is the Alhambra, which combines a four-leaf clover, symbolizing good luck, love and health, with a scalloped outline. The clover is set with a variety of precious stones, most notably mother-of-pearl. The collection was launched in 1968 and was inspired by the four-leaf motif found on the Moorish tiles of the Alhambra Palace in Granada. This covetable collection includes rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and watches.

Van Cleef & Sachs Mystery Set

Van Cleef & Arpels is best known for its Mystery Set technique, a method of setting gemstones in jewelry without the use of an awl, established by the Maison in 1933 and still practiced today. Other fine jewelry brands have experimented with this gem-setting technique, but none come close to Van Cleef & Arpels's technique.

This technique is only possible for a skilled jeweler to perform, as it requires perfectly matched gemstones, painstakingly cut to fit together without any gaps. According to Van Cleef, a single clip can take more than 300 hours, so it's no wonder that only a few Mystery Sets are made each year.

Transformable Jewelry

Van Cleef & Arpels has established itself as a master of transformative jewelry, with boundless creativity and technical feats. One of the Maison's first transformable pieces is the Passe Part-Out necklace, made of a flexible gold snake chain and two flower clips. It can be worn as a necklace, choker, bracelet or brooch. The Zip Necklace is another Van Cleef & Arpels coveted transformable piece, with a functional jeweled zipper that can be used as both a necklace and a bracelet when zipped all the way up.

Van Cleef & Arpels' most popular collections

  • Alhambra Ring Hall
  • Cadenas
  • Cosmos
  • Fleurette
  • Frivole
  • Lucky Animal
  • Pele

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