VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
A bejeweled history
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