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