Van Cleef & Arpels is a French high-jewellery brand which was founded in 1986 by a Dutch diamond cutter Alfred Van Cleef and his father-in-law Salomon Arpels. They are the pioneers of the famous “invisible setting” or more known by Van Cleef & Arpels as Serti Mysterieux. The true meaning is as a “Mystery Setting”, the style of setting stones without visible prongs. This beautiful setting has been widely used by the brand, most popularly with emeralds, rubies and sapphires. Along with its phenomenal craftsmanship, design is definitely a distinctive asset for the brand. The iconic Alhambra motif resembling a four-leaf clover is what we all picture when we think ‘Van Cleef & Arpels’. The design aesthetic of the brand prances around natures flora and fauna with a mystical touch of fairies and ballerinas. The brand identity apart from design is synonymous with coloured stones; a core of their creative process since 1906.
“Every stone has a soul of its own”Claude Arpels
Some of the most prominent coloured stones seen across the brands collections. In the Alhambra collection: Carnelian, Lapis Lazuli, Malachite, Mother of Pearl, Onyx, Turquoise, Tiger’s Eye, Opals & Chalcedony are primary features. Their high jewellery collections, although laden with diamonds are also popularly known for their tutti frutti style. These stunning pieces boast a delicious mix of Rubies, Emeralds and Sapphires. Other coloured stones seen in their gem-centric collections are Tourmalines, Aquamarines, Garnets, Chrysoprase Coral, and Spinels. Here are five of our all time favourite coloured gemstone designs from Van Cleef & Arpels.
The Héloïse Ballerina Clip
The Héloïse ballerina clip was made in 2008 in white gold and rose gold laden with traditional Mystery Set emeralds and diamonds. It was from the well-known from the Ballet Précieux™ collection. Additionally, we love the Van Cleef & Arpels beautiful ballerina in glorious green emeralds invisibly set to perfection in the momentum of her skirt. According to Van Cleef & Arpels, every emerald is handpicked from Colombia, Zambia and Brazil to ensure pristine quality and consistent hues of green. They choose this gem because of its beauty and emotions, which so rightly emotes itself through the charm of the ballerina.
Columbiad Bleu Clip
Although Van Cleef & Arpels has a wide range of jewellery from necklaces to earrings, bracelets, watches and more, set with a vibrant range of coloured sapphires, our favourite is the Columbiad Bleu Clip from the Les Voyages Extraordinaires collection. The clip is made in white gold featuring a cabochon-cut star sapphire of 6.33 carats from Sri Lanka. The design is beautifully crafted using shades of blue sapphires, black spinels, and diamonds, each set brilliantly to enhance the design. Above all, look closely and you’ll spot a wave of stones, set pavilion up, adding dimension to the design. A beautiful shooting star incasing the star sapphire has multiple marquise diamonds set in its tail. What a gorgeous galaxy!
The Zip Antique Rayon Necklace
The Zip Necklace is an iconic Van Cleef & Arpels style. This couture collection honouring craftsmanship uses various traditional techniques such as filigree and incorporates a wide variety of precious gemstones. Van Cleef & Arpels reinvented the humble zip into an item of luxury. In 1950, the Zip Necklace was an idea born as a result of the innovative suggestion from the Duchess of Windsor in the 1930s when buttons became less popular and were replaced by zips. Of all the zip necklaces, our favourite is the Zip Antique Rayon necklace transformable. This necklace is made in rose gold and set with rubies, pink sapphires and diamonds, whose colours intermingle with the beauty of the rose gold. What is most fascinating is that this jewel is not only a necklace but is transformable into a bracelet as well.
The Ludo Secret Watch
Our next favourite is the Ludo Secret Watch. Van Cleef & Arpels Ludo collection consists of honey-comb like blocks interwoven to form a mesh. The Secret watch is a hidden dial mounted on mother of pearl. It more so resembles a bracelet than a watch. In addition, this exceptional piece comes in three versions of sumptuous coloured gemstones. Stunning contrasting colours of gemstones are used in combination with 18-karat yellow gold or rose gold.
Lapis Lazuli, Diamonds, Mother of Pearl, with alternating pink and blue sapphires.
Chrysoprase, Diamonds, Mother of Pearl, with alternating emeralds and blue sapphires.
Coral, Mother of Pearl, with alternating rubies and diamonds.
Between the Finger Rings™
Between the Finger rings™ have been a Van Cleef & Arpels tradition since the 1970s. This style is so iconic, that ever since, they have launched everyday wearable between the finger rings too. One of our favourites is this stunning high jewellery butterfly between the finger ring adorned with pink and Mauve Sapphires, Orange Spessartite garnets, and a marquise diamond as the body of the butterfly. Moreover, these colours are meant to portray the effervescence of butterflies. Butterflies are also a popular timeless symbol of femininity and elegance in the design style of Van Cleef & Arpels having four wings, fitting in with the concept of the iconic Alhambra motif or four-leaf clover.
In conclusion, it is a difficult choice to choose just 5 stunning designs from the vast collections of Van Cleef & Arpels’ I-conic eye-candy, laden with delicious gemstones, set in glossy gold and crafted to perfection! A commendable use of both precious and semi-precious gemstones, bringing to life designs that speak and resemble nature through their expressions with use of relevant coloured stones and exceptional setting.
Samantha C. Pais, GIA GG
Samantha is a Graduate Gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America. Founder of Curious Carat on Instagram, Samantha has over a decade of experience in the international jewellery industry, which shines through her work for The Gem Monarchy.
Ludo secret watch - VCARO8X900 - van cleef & arpels (no date) 18K yellow gold, Chrysoprase, Diamond, Emerald, Mother-of-pearl, Sapphire - Van Cleef & Arpels. Available at: https://www.vancleefarpels.com/au/en/collections/watches/high-jewelry-watches/vcaro8x900---ludo-secret-watch.html (Accessed: 13 November 2023). Maison Van Cleef & Arpels. (n.d.). Jewelry and high jewelry, Place Vendôme in Paris since 1906. Retrieved October 30, 2023, from https://www.vancleefarpels.com/au Wikimedia Foundation. (2023, September 9). Van Cleef & Arpels. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 30, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Cleef_%26_Arpels