IN BLOOM

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS HELD THE FIRST AUS­TRALIAN SHOW­CASE OF ITS NA­TURE-IN­SPIRED HIGH JEW­ELLERY COL­LEC­TION AT A GALA EVENT.

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - MOTORING - STORY MI­LANDA ROUT K PHO­TOG­RA­PHY DAR­REN LEIGH ROBERTS

Van Cleef & Arpels knows how to make an en­trance. The French jew­ellery house wanted to mark its ar­rival in Aus­tralia by throw­ing a black-tie din­ner show­cas­ing its high jew­ellery col­lec­tion and it cer­tainly did de­liver. Six months in the plan­ning, the party was held at the her­itage-listed $60 mil­lion pri­vate home called Bar­ford in Syd­ney’s ex­clu­sive Belle­vue Hill. A mar­quee was de­signed es­pe­cially to house the 72 guests as they sat at long ta­bles, adorned with hun­dreds of roses, waited on by 30 white-gloved staff and feast­ing on three cour­ses by French Miche­lin-starred chef Bruno Me­nard. And this was all be­fore they got to see the Van Cleef & Arpels cre­ations them­selves.

“This event is quite tra­di­tional in the world of high jew­ellery and is some­thing we do in al­most all the coun­tries where we have a sig­nif­i­cant pres­ence,” pres­i­dent and CEO Ni­co­las Bos tells WISH in one of the mag­nif­i­cent rooms at Bar­ford be­fore the din­ner. “It al­lows guests to dis­cover high jew­ellery in a dif­fer­ent set­ting from the set­ting of the store. You can have phys­i­cal ac­cess to the pieces. It is also an op­por­tu­nity for us to meet cus­tomers in per­son and spend some qual­ity time with them.”

The jew­ellery house, founded in Paris in 1906 by gold­smith Al­fred Van Cleef and his di­a­mond bro­ker brother-in-law Charles Arpels, has opened two stores in Aus­tralia in the past 12 months, start­ing with Mel­bourne on Collins Street last Novem­ber and in Syd­ney on Castlereagh Street in Fe­bru­ary. It is part of a big­ger move in the south­east Asian re­gion and one Bos says the house takes very se­ri­ously.

“It is not be­ing op­por­tunis­tic – there is a rise in tourism and so we open a store as quickly as pos­si­ble to make some money,” he says. “We truly try to find the right lo­ca­tion in the long term, to in­vest in the coun­try and to build a team. It is the same with the com­mu­nity. We have started to li­aise with the Aus­tralian Bal­let [to be­come a spon­sor]. We look at this mar­ket in the same way we look at Paris or New York or Tokyo, cities where we have been for a long time.”

Bos was also pleas­antly sur­prised at how many peo­ple al­ready knew the Van Cleef & Arpels style – fa­mous for dec­o­ra­tive art jew­ellery such as bal­leri­nas, flow­ers and pix­ies as well as the iconic zip neck­lace -when they opened the stores here. “From the very first days, cus­tomers liv­ing in Aus­tralia knew the house quite well and had been ex­posed to it while trav­el­ling, they knew the col­lec­tions, they knew the styles,” he says. “That was a very en­cour­ag­ing sign.”

These pieces were among the 50 on dis­play at the gala at Bar­ford and will stay in Aus­tralia at the Mel­bourne and Syd­ney stores for some time. For Bos, high jew­ellery means in­di­vid­ual pieces that push the level of tech­nique and ex­pres­sion -- in other words, com­plex artis­tic works. For some clients, it is a spe­cial com­mis­sion for a cel­e­bra­tion like a wed­ding. “They want to treat them­selves with some­thing truly ex­cep­tional for the oc­ca­sion,” he ex­plains. “Maybe it is go­ing to be once in their life­time.” For oth­ers, Bos says, Van Cleef & Arpels pieces are an­other form of art: “They look at the jew­ellery the same way an art col­lec­tor looks at their art col­lec­tion.” W

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