SWEET MYSTERIES Van Cleef & Ar­pels’ new jew­ellery col­lec­tion is a whim­si­cal dis­play of craftsmanship and true artistry

Van Cleef & Ar­pels’ new jew­ellery col­lec­tion is a whim­si­cal dis­play of craftsmanship and true artistry.

VOGUE Living Australia - - Contents - By LAU­REN POWELL Pho­tographed by SAM MCADAM-COOPER

Some of the great­est love sto­ries of the last cen­tury have the fine jew­ellery of Van Cleef & Ar­pels em­bed­ded in their nar­ra­tives. Its new col­lec­tion, Le Se­cret, pays homage to this ro­man­tic his­tory, which in­cludes tales of great sac­ri­fice for the sake of love. King Ed­ward VIII, who ab­di­cated the throne in 1936 so he could marry di­vor­cée Wal­lis Simp­son, com­mis­sioned many pieces from the mai­son. He would spend hours with the de­sign­ers, adding his own touches, and have the unique pieces in­scribed with pri­vate mes­sages for her. Dur­ing the en­gage­ment be­tween the Shah of Iran and So­raya Es­fan­di­ari Bakhtiari in 1950, his bride-to-be be­came ill with typhoid fever and the wed­ding had to be post­poned un­til the fol­low­ing year. Ac­cord­ing to leg­end, each morn­ing dur­ing her con­va­les­cence, the Shah would lay a jewel on her pil­low. The iconic mai­son also be­came part of the love story be­tween Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly, when

the cou­ple se­lected a match­ing pearl set at the New York bou­tique a few months be­fore their wed­ding in 1956. Princess Grace then be­came a reg­u­lar client at the mai­son’s Monaco salon. Fit­tingly, Van Cleef & Ar­pels grew from a love story. It was founded in 1906 in Paris by a young mar­ried cou­ple, Al­fred Van Cleef, the son of a stone­cut­ter, and Estelle Ar­pels, the daugh­ter of a pre­cious stones dealer, and the mai­son is still con­nected to this. “Our inspirations al­ways come from our iden­tity and her­itage,” says Cather­ine Rénier, pres­i­dent of Van Cleef & Ar­pels Asia Pa­cific. “We are not a mai­son with a mar­ket­ing strat­egy think­ing about what is in fash­ion. Ev­ery­thing we do is al­ways in deep respect for our past.” Its most re­cent col­lec­tion, Le Se­cret, launched in late 2017, was two years in the mak­ing and com­bines the mai­son’s sig­na­ture play­ful aes­thetic with its com­mit­ment to in­no­va­tive craftsmanship. There are more than 100 one-off pieces in the col­lec­tion — from neck­laces and rings to clips and bracelets — each with its own se­cret mes­sage or un­ex­pected me­ta­mor­pho­sis to dis­cover. Ev­ery item fea­tures chang­ing colours, hid­den char­ac­ter­is­tics or the abil­ity to trans­form from one ob­ject to an­other. For ex­am­ple, a clip — in­spired by an Alexan­der Pushkin poem — trans­forms from a princess into a swan when the back of the piece is ro­tated, and a set of di­a­mond and pink sap­phire ear­rings has de­tach­able pen­dants that fas­ten to­gether to cre­ate a heart-shaped clip. An­other piece, a di­a­mond, sap­phire and emer­ald ring, rises when turned to re­veal a quote by Os­car Wilde writ­ten in French that trans­lates as ‘a life with­out love is like a sun­less gar­den’. “This col­lec­tion has an ex­tra step in the cre­ations, where it’s not only what you see, but also what’s hid­den within,” says Rénier. ››

‹‹ “And if you own the piece, you can share it with ev­ery­one or keep it for your­self as your own se­cret; that’s the beauty of it.” The mai­son is renowned for its in­ge­nu­ity and pre­ci­sion. In 1933, Van Cleef & Ar­pels in­vented and pa­tented the Mys­tery Set tech­nique, and this re­mains one of the most com­plex pro­ce­dures in jew­ellery-mak­ing to this day. The method in­volves po­si­tion­ing spe­cially cut pre­cious stones onto gold rails to give the il­lu­sion that the gems are free­stand­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Rénier, the Mys­tery Set was ini­tially used for sim­pler de­signs. “It was very flat, maybe a lit­tle curve, but noth­ing too fancy,” she says. “Decades later, we now cre­ate pieces with 3D ef­fects — it’s a tech­nique that has re­ally evolved.” Each in­di­vid­ual creation in Le Se­cret col­lec­tion took up to 10 ar­ti­sans to pro­duce — from de­sign­ers and stone ex­perts, to mock-up artists and jew­ellers, to stone­cut­ters and pol­ish­ers — with one par­tic­u­lar piece tak­ing 850 hours to com­plete. Rénier’s favourite piece in the col­lec­tion is a parrot clip made from ru­bies, pink and yel­low sap­phires, spes­sar­tite gar­nets, black spinels, coral, onyx, grey mother-of-pearl and di­a­monds. It has a move­able wing that lifts to re­veal a baby chick and, says Rénier, it em­bod­ies ev­ery­thing Van Cleef & Ar­pels stands for. “You have na­ture, flow­ers, an­i­mals and a mech­a­nism that opens up onto a baby parrot un­der the wing. It is a pos­i­tive vi­sion of life and it’s very fem­i­nine and grace­ful. And on top of that, it has amaz­ing work with stones and there is a Mys­tery Set — it’s a great sym­bol of who we are.” Visit van­clee­farpels.com

Each in­di­vid­ual creation in Le Se­cret col­lec­tion took up to 10 ar­ti­sans to pro­duce — with one tak­ing 850 hours

clockwise from left: Victoria Re­gia neck­lace; Del­phinium neck­lace; De­meure D’As­te­rion neck­lace; Couers En­lacés bracelet; Colombe Mys­térieuse clip. VAN CLEEF & AR­PELS’ LE SE­CRET COL­LEC­TION

above, from left: Pierre Ar­pels, Estelle Ar­pels’ nephew, who joined the mai­son at the end of WWII, pic­tured with French ac­tress and for­mer Bond girl Clau­dine Augier. Sophia Loren wear­ing Van Cleef & Ar­pels jew­ellery at the 1966 Cannes Film Fes­ti­val.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.