Knowledge Centre > Jewellery History > Famous Jewellery Houses

Van Cleef & Arpels: Founded from Family, Built Upon Love.


Van Cleef & Arpels diamond emerald cut ring hatton garden
Van Cleef & Arpels diamond emerald-cut ring, French, circa 1970.
Ref: 27793

The jewellery house of Van Cleef & Arpels has resonated throughout history, gifting us with their innovative designs and striking adornments. Here at Berganza, we wish to pay homage to their exquisite talent and flair.

Birthed from an event of true love, their story began once Estelle Arpels, daughter of a precious stones dealer, and Alfred Van Cleef, son of a lapidary, joined in marriage in 1895, Paris. Their enthusiasm for their craft and strong adoration for each other led them to open Van Cleef & Arpels in 1906. Since their founding, they have ‘sustained a continuous focus on high-quality materials, workmanship and design’.

VCA truly functioned as a family business, with the married pair going into business with Estelle’s brothers and nephews, and later assigning their daughter as artistic director. For this reason, love, family, and connection, became a strong theme throughout VCA’s jewellery collections. Their first ever jewellery piece resembled a heart crafted of diamonds, with later designs incorporating motifs of lovebirds, florals, and fairies.

In following years, VCA designed for esteemed clientele, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco, and Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran.

The couple designed some magnificent pieces, such as the Alhambra necklace which became an icon in the world of jewellery. Their patented ‘Mystery Set’ allowed precious stones to be set in such a way which hid their metal settings. This setting enabled a seamless mosaic of colour and brilliance, uplifting their jewellery above others with master craftsmanship.

VCA utilised and incorporated incredible, rare gemstones within their pieces which are scarcely found today. Bold in colour with undefeated quality, their pieces feature the finest natural jewels showcasing vivid hues from mines long since exhausted. Rich Burmese sapphires and impressive Colombian emeralds were set in tow against scintillating diamonds. Consisting of colourful arrangements and impressive displays, these jewels now present themselves as investment pieces within today’s jewellery world.

With VCA still prospering after over a century, their antique pieces are highly sought after for their famed beauty and exquisite design. We are incredibly fortunate to have an extensive collection of Van Cleef & Arpels pieces, all of which you can view within our showroom. Each with a unique historical charm, they are true masterpieces which are a must for your jewellery collection.

Sources: Coffin, S., 2011. Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef and Arpels. United Kingdom: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

Van Cleef & Arpels three row diamond ring, American, circa 1970s.
Van Cleef & Arpels three row diamond ring, American, circa 1970s.
Ref: 26091
Van Cleef and Arpels lapis lazuli and diamond ring hatton garden
Van Cleef and Arpels lapis lazuli and diamond ring, circa 1970.
Ref: 27130
Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond ring berganza hatton garden
Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond ring, circa 1945.
Ref: 27578
Van Cleef & Arpels Burmese Sapphire Ring, French, circa 1930. Hatton Garden
Van Cleef & Arpels Burmese Sapphire Ring, French, circa 1930.
Ref: 24439
Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond ring berganza hatton garden
Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond ring, French, circa 1960.
Ref: 24644
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Updated 18/06/2024 at 4:34PM

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