Van Cleef & Arpels goes for beautiful, wearable luxury with its latest collection, Seven Seas, writes Emilie Yabut-razon
The rhythmic rolling of sparkling waves rendered brilliantly in a diamond necklace, a stream of white pearl bubbles forming an elegant bracelet, and a brooch bearing a sparkling mermaid perched on a chalcedony reef are just some of the spectacular pieces that Van Cleef & Arpels has created as part of its first cruise collection, Seven Seas.
The Place Vendôme jeweller wanted to capture the spirit of fashion’s resort lines with luxurious yet wearable pieces that can be worn while travelling. According to Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos, the jewels in the collection are lighter, easier to wear and more comfortable than the maison’s usual high jewellery. “The definition of high jewellery doesn’t only apply to exceptional, sometimes very overwhelming pieces; it is also a category that can incorporate jewellery that is more wearable and less formal,” he says.
The maison is the first haute joaillerie brand to express a desire to offer more accessible pieces and to highlight—using fashion terms—resort style rather than haute couture. According to Bos, the objective was to create pieces at the same level of craftsmanship and technique as high jewellery, but with designs that can be appreciated more and worn frequently rather than end up living in safes. “It is very important for us to convey
this message because high jewellery is often seen through a lens of amazement,” says Bos. “But it is very important that high jewellery is relevant for not just 200 people in this world, but for many more.”
The theme, Seven Seas, was meant to stretch Van Cleef & Arpels’ designers’ imaginations, from the warm waters of the Pacific to the chilly depths of the Atlantic. For colonial-era sailors, crossing the seven seas meant achieving the unimaginable feat of travelling to the world’s end and back again. Bos explains that during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, people were just beginning their explorations of the earth through its oceans, and no one really knew if mermaids or other sea creatures were real. The theme was developed around the idea that travel is as much a part of your imagination as it is a reality.
It’s apparent that Van Cleef & Arpels is redefining the boundaries of high jewellery, not via hundreds of carats of precious stones, but through a combination of design, inspiration and craftsmanship. “Innovation is at the heart of the workshop,” says Bos. “What’s essential for us is this permanent search for improvement and excellence, expressed through techniques like the Mystery setting. We’ve created two types of the Mystery setting that are actually quite different from the original one, both patented. The one that we are using in this collection to create the Sirène Mystérieuse clip is like stained glass—a double-faced setting that you can see from the front and the back, the stones seemingly held by magic.”
High levels of technique and attention to detail have allowed Van Cleef & Arpels to evolve through the years. The maison is still an expert at telling stories with jewellery, though, and Seven Seas is no exception—with more than 350 pieces showcasing different
THE THEME, SEVEN SEAS, WAS MEANT TO STRETCH VAN CLEEF & ARPELS’ DESIGNERS’ IMAGINATIONS, FROM THE WARM WATERS OF THE PACIFIC TO THE CHILLY DEPTHS OF THE ATLANTIC
sea creatures, wave shapes and the movement of the oceans, while making use of various types of finishes, settings and cuts.
There are many brooches in the collection, including the Vagues Mystérieuses clip, which is shaped like rolling waves, with Mystery-set sapphires forming the water and the edges set with diamonds, sapphires and Paraíbalike tourmalines. The Étoile des Mer clip is a starfish in pink gold with pink sapphires and diamonds, and the Trois Tortues clip features three diamond-set turtles with mother-ofpearl shells swimming on a current of white gold and diamonds.
The Red Sea is best represented by the Coquillage Mystérieux ring, which is set with rubies and diamonds forming a shellfish, while the Black Sea range includes the Rose des Vents long necklace and timepiece, designed with diamonds, black spinels, sapphires and onyx beads mixed with pearls.
A breathtaking piece from the Mediterranean Sea range is the Flamant Corail necklace and earrings with diamonds, pink sapphires, peridot, and pink and red coral, while from the Caspian Sea comes the Bleu Absolu necklace with a 14.22-carat pear-shaped D-coloured internally flawless diamond and five sapphire drops weighing a total of 85.86 carats.
A fascinating selection of jewellery, Seven Seas is a lively and joyful representation of nature’s richness and diversity—in brilliant, wearable form.
SEA SIRENS From left: Models wear the Lagune Précieuse necklace and earrings; Flamant Corail necklace and earrings; and Pangée diamond necklace and earrings, Fleur des Mers ring and Mert de Vent brooch, all by Van Cleef & Arpels
OCEAN’S DEPTHS Clockwise from far left: Lagune Précieuse earrings with diamonds, sapphires and aquamarines; Pangée diamond necklace; Ancône turquoise and emerald ring; Mer des Étoiles sapphire and diamond ring
GEM ARTISTRY Clockwise from top left: Stone setting on the Flamant Corail necklace; illustrations of the Sirène Mystérieuse clip and Coquillage Mystérieux ruby ring; Flamant Corail earrings; Goutte de Spinelle ring with 14.34 carat spinel; Vagues Mystérieuses clip