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Van Cleef & Arpels

Information about French jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels

Van Cleef & Arpels is a French jewellery, watch and perfume company that was founded in 1896 by Estelle Arpels and Alfred van Cleef. They are renowned for their expertise in precious stones and are well known for their groundbreaking gem setting procedure known as The Mystery Setting'. This setting is a technique where there are no visible prongs, instead each stone is hand grooved to fit into a mesh of gold or platinum wire. This procedure has been continuously perfected and evolved by the company with regular patent reviews, most recently in 1990.

Van Cleef & Arpels have a number of milestone creations. These include:-

  • the first watch with a leather strap, made in yellow or white gold (1923);
  • the Minaudière, a small precious box that can hold a powder compact, lipstick, lighter, or keys, inspired by Florence Jay Gould (1930);
  • the Cadenas (Padlock) wristwatch (1936);
  • the Passe Partout (Take-me-anywhere) bracelet (1939);
  • the Zip necklace (1950), which can be opened and closed just like a zip;
  • the Millénaire (Millennium) clip (2000); and
  • the Lotus "between-the-fingers" ring (2001)

The company has remained a family business, being passed down from generation to generation. Van Clef & Arpels jewellery has a high degree of craftsmanship and a traditional flare that is not industrialised. They have always strived to push the boundaries and limitations of jewellery making, pioneering new ideas and methods of production that are still as groundbreaking and impressive today as they were when first introduced.

Van Cleef & Arpels' prestige and eternal success is reflected in their long list of famous patrons, both past and present. In 1946, the firm gained exposure when Marlene Dietrich wore her ruby and diamond bracelet in Hitchcock's film Stage Fright and in 1955 Prince Rainer of Monaco presented Grace Kelly with a diamond and pearl set as an engagement present. The extensive list continues with other famous celebrities, including Elizabeth Taylor, Christina Onassis and members of several European Royal families.

The timeless aesthetic of the Van Cleef & Arpels brand has maintained it's standing and attracted numerous contemporary stars to the magical rings, diamonds and other jewellery it has to offer.

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Van Cleef & Arpels Related Lots

Lot FS17/341

Lot FS17/341: Van Cleef and Arpels. An Emerald and Diamond Novelty 'Elephant' Brooch

Van Cleef and Arpels. An emerald and diamond novelty 'elephant' brooch with emerald and diamond-set eye, the reverse with French control marks and inscribed 'Van Cleef & Arpels 99.128 750'.

Estimate: £1,000 - £1,500
Realised: £1,350