VAN CLEEF & AR­PELS

A be­jew­eled his­tory

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the world a gate­way to el­e­gance and har­mony. Through a po­etic blend of in­no­va­tion, time-per­fected tech­niques and un­der­stated el­e­gance, ev­ery piece from the Mai­son is an ex­pres­sion of its unique spirit of cre­ation.

It all be­gan with a love story, when Estell Ar­pels, the daugh­ter of a dealer in pre­cious stones, mar­ried Al­fred Van Cleef, the son of a lap­idary and di­a­mond bro­ker, in 1895. In 1906, the cou­ple went into busi­ness with Estelle’s broth­ers Charles, Julien and Louis to de­but the first Van Cleef & Ar­pels bou­tique at 22 Place Vendôme in Paris – the beat­ing heart of French High Jewellery, which re­mains the home of the Mai­son to this day. The in­ter­na­tional es­teem of the High Jewellery Mai­son grew at a re­mark­able pace, aided by a dis­cern­ing cos­mopoli­tan clien­tele: Euro­pean aris­toc­racy, In­dian ma­hara­jas and per­son­al­i­ties from the stage and sil­ver screen.

Recog­ni­tion of Van Cleef & Ar­pels’ ex­cep­tional crafts­man­ship and de­sign led to the high­est ac­co­lades at the Ex­po­si­tion In­ter­na­tionale des Arts Dé­co­rat­ifs et In­dus­triels Modernes in Paris in 1925 and the Ex­po­si­tion Colo­niale In­ter­na­tionale at the Bois de Vin­cennes in Paris in 1931, sig­ni­fy­ing the blos­som­ing of the Mai­son’s in­ter­na­tional fame.

In 1926, un­der the cre­ative helm of the cou­ple’s vi­sion­ary daugh­ter Renée Puis­sant (who would serve as Cre­ative Di­rec­tor till 1942), Van Cleef & Ar­pels en­tered a new era of el­e­gance, fan­tas­ti­cal in­ven­tion and savoir-faire. Julien Ar­pels’ sons Claude, Jacques and Pierre also joined the fam­ily busi­ness. Jacques took over the man­age­ment of the Mai­son in Paris in 1938 while Claude set­tled in New York, where he helmed the open­ing of the Van Cleef & Ar­pels bou­tique at 744 Fifth Av­enue in 1942. Pierre, their younger brother, joined the Mai­son in 1944 and over­saw its jewellery de­sign.

Many of the ground-break­ing tech­niques and orig­i­nal cre­ations that were to be­come iconic pillars of the sto­ried com­pany came into be­ing dur­ing this time: The patented Mys­tery Set tech­nique – in which the metal dis­ap­pears to bet­ter dis­play the

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