Van Cleef & Arpels: Simplicity and Grace
Van Cleef & Arpels, nominated for a Luxist Award for Best Jewelry Line, is known for its handcrafted fine custom pieces. The company was founded in 1906 on the famed Place Vendôme in Paris by Alfred Van Cleef and his brother-in-law, Charles Arpels. The company first opened its doors at the New York flagship in 1939 and has continued to expand to the world's most exclusive locations. For more than a century, the company has fused inspiration and technical prowess into beautiful creations.
Van Cleef & Arpels has long been known for striving to capture nature at its most beautiful. This is evident with several collections, such as the classic Snowflake Collection, as well as "Birds of Paradise", the new creative jewelry collection comprised of whimsical and figurative birds in flight and fancy.
The company is known for its many innovations and technical creativity in its storied ateliers, one of which is the Mystery Setting. The Mystery Setting is an exclusive and patented technique in which prongs are concealed beneath the gems they hold. The technique allows the creation of voluptuous, gem-encrusted, three-dimensional shapes that shimmer with simplicity and grace that allow the precious stones to take center stage. The process was introduced by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1933 and is still used in many of the jeweler's finest unique pieces.
Another innovation by Van Cleef & Arpels was the Minaudiere. In the 1930's, when Charles Arpels caught Florence Jay Gould slipping her lipstick into a white tin box, he was astonished that such a fashionable woman had nothing in which to store and carry her cosmetics. As a result, he invented this ultra-sophisticated version of the vanity case that allows the cosmopolitan woman to tuck away her lipstick, handkerchief and powder puff without being encumbered.
The company's Zipper necklace, which was first commissioned by the Duchess of Windsor, took over a decade to realize in its workshops. The necklace is one of Van Cleef & Arpels most iconic, innovative pieces. The necklace zips, literally, just as a zipper does.
Van Cleef & Arpels launched its famed Alhambra Collection in the late 1960's, reflecting the pop culture of the time. The Alhambra is still one of the company's signature lines and has since grown into a larger collection featuring a variety of precious stones, charms and variations while staying true to the original meaning of the clover motif. The iconic quatrefoil is the time-honored symbol of health, wealth, true love and luck, at once an embodiment of simplistic elegance. The Alhambra has become a most-desired addition to the jewel boxes of legends of the screen and stage, members of the royal set, exquisite tastemakers and jewelry lovers throughout the world.
Annually, Van Cleef & Arpels produces one to two collections of high jewelry, which are unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that are handmade in its workshops in either Paris or New York. These pieces, which are never to be replicated, are thematic, creative and romantic--always based on the idea of one of the founding blocks of the company: nature, fantasy, couture and the arts. Its most recent high jewelry collections include "California Rêverie", "Les Jardins", "Ballet Precieux", "L'Atlantide" and "Une journée à Paris".
In addition to its jewelry, the company has an extensive collection of timepieces and fragrances. Van Cleef & Arpels has two flagship boutiques: one in New York and the other in Paris. At 22, place Vendome, and since 1939 at 744 Fifth Avenue in New York in addition to select locations throughout the rest of the world.
Cast your vote for the Readers' Choice Awards at http://www.luxist.com/awards-vote/accessories-awards.
Gallery: More from Van Cleef & Arpels