Jewellery maison Van Cleef & Arpels was born out of the marriage between Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef. Both families were already in the jewellery trade; Alfred initially trained as a lapidary, following in the footsteps of his father and later established his own jewellery retail business. Estelle’s father was also a jewellery salesman, and her brothers worked as a diamond broker and a gemstone specialist. Thus, in 1906 when Van Cleef & Arpels opened their first boutique at the Place Vendôme in Paris, it is unsurprising that they saw incredible success from the start with this winning combination.
Van Cleef & Arpels are known for their ability to innovate and transform. In particular, their invention of the ‘serti mysterieux’, or mystery set became one of their signature styles. This was a new method of setting stones where the settings cannot be seen, giving the view of an unbroken sea of colour. Patented in 1933, this required incredible skill and only a select few craftsmen had the necessary ability to create these pieces. Indeed, to this day, only a few pieces are produced each year.
World events were often used as inspiration for their designs, for example a commemorative brooch depicting a moon crater was given to Neil Armstrong on his return home from the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, and their Crater Jewels collection followed soon after. Another much loved theme was that of dance, and ballet in particular and these pieces are much sought after by collectors.
Van Cleef & Arpels have had many wealthy and famous clients over the years, from Eva Peron and Jacquie Kennedy to The Duchess of Windsor, their jewellery was renowned across the globe. In 1956 they were appointed the ‘Official Supplier to the Principality of Monaco’ after Grace Kelly bought her wedding suite from their New York boutique. She would remain a lifelong client, purchasing everything from brooches to necklaces, and even a tiara!
From bold floral designs to impressive bombé cluster rings, Van Cleef and Arpels created an impressive range of styles over the years. If you would like to own your own unique piece of Van Cleef & Arpels incredible history please look on our website for our full collection, or else stop by our shop in Hatton Garden, London.
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Our extensive collection of ancient, early, antique and vintage jewellery can be viewed online or in store. Found the piece of your dreams? Don’t let it get away – secure it with a 20% deposit, the balance payable within 6 months.