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Van Cleef & Arpels and the royal family who wore it

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Van Cleef & Arpels’ incredible history is intertwined with some of the world’s most prominent and illustrious women of the time, as Alison Class discovered.

In 1895, the daughter of a jeweler, Estelle Arpels, married Alfred Van Cleef, a jeweler and son of a diamond broker. The pair shared the same values ​​of family consciousness, spirit of innovation and passion for jewelry. This marks the beginning of a jeweled fate, with the birth of the Maison, named both Van Cleef & Arpels, at 22 Place Vendome in 1906. The boutique remains at this legendary address to this day.

22 Place Van Cleef & Arpels boutique in Vendome.

The business included the experienced jewelers Estelles Brothers, Charles, Julien and Louis. From aristocrats to European and American business tycoons, the exquisite jewels of the house quickly crossed the continent at the Maison’s location opposite the fashionable Hotel Ritz, which boasts wealthy customers. Soon, major women from all over the world were fascinated. From the elegant 1920s to the early 70s Jetset era, Van Cleef & Arpels has won some of the most legendary names as a patron and they are in the history of the most spectacular works that jewelers have continued to recreate. A year that made each individual style forever immortal. Introducing the five women who shaped the world of high jewelery through Van Cleef & Arpels.

Empress of Iran The Empress of Iran at the Coronation of Faraf Parravi

For centuries, only Iranian male rulers were crowned, but on October 26, 1967, in favor of the White Revolutionary Order on the Liberation of Women, Iranian King Mohammad Reza Pahlavi named Faraf Pahlavi. Declared to be the first empress of Iran. But there was a problem. There was no coronation suitable for the coronation, as the Empress of Iran had not been crowned for centuries.

The prestigious mission of creating a new crown was given to Van Cleef & Arpels in 1966, when the Iranian government chose the Maison design from 50 proposals. It is one of the most prestigious committees in the history of housing. But there was another challenge. Crown and coronation jewelery gems have traditionally been chosen from the loose stones of the Imperial Treasury Vienna, and items from the vault never left Iran.

Completed crown of Empress Faraf, Empress Pierre Alpel with a sketch of the crown and jewels

Pierre Alpel (Julian’s son) spent six months between Paris and Tehran before picking jewelry in the basement of the Central Bank of the Islam and setting up the entire workshop in the treasury room with a team of Maison craftsmen. And traveled 24 times. Unusual order.

The Maison is finally in green velvet white gold with two spinels, 38 emeralds, 34 rubies, 105 pearls, 1,469 diamonds and a hexagonal emerald with a 150 carat engraving in the center. I gave the crown to the empress. Van Cleef & Arpels has also created additional coronation jewelery, including matching earring pairs and large gold and platinum necklaces. The latter featured a large engraved emerald as a central pendant, further decorated with emeralds, pearls and white and yellow diamonds.

HSH Princess Grace of Monaco Princess Grace wearing a suite presented by Prince Renier in portrait

In 1956, American actress Grace Kelly was elected Princess of Monaco when she married Prince Rainier III. To celebrate their union, the prince visited a Van Cleef & Arpels boutique in New York and met Louis Arpels. Louis Arpels was convinced that the elegant pearls deserved the beauty of his fiancée. The exquisite suites chosen include a gorgeous 3-strand pearl necklace with a diamond swirl, a 3-strand pearl bracelet with a diamond flower motif, and pearl earrings with baguette and marquise-shaped diamond swirls. Included a pearl diamond blossom ring. A few months later, the jeweler was nominated as a patented supplier in the Principality of Monaco. The princess was seen wearing this royal pearl parure many times throughout her life.

Three-strand pearl necklace with diamond swirl Three-strand pearl bracelet with diamond flower motif Pearl earrings with diamond swirl

A pre-engagement client of Van Cleef & Arpels, Princess Grace has long enriched her collection with Maison’s high jewelery such as bracelets, tiaras and clips. For casual occasions, I also loved wearing adorable animal clips from the La Boutique collection and homework such as the Alhambra necklace, which was made from a variety of valuable materials such as coral, malachite, and lapis lazuli.

Princess Pfizer of Egypt Princess Cairo wearing a necklace in the 1948 Tafra Palace Ball (right)

Born November 8, 1923 at Abdeen Palace, Egyptian Princess Pfizer was considered the most attractive of King Fauzi’s five sisters. The vibrant, witty and rebellious royal family was known for its wonderful taste of clothing and jewelery, favoring Parisian haute couture and jewelery. Needless to say, Van Cleef & Arpels was her favorite jewelery maison.

Princess Pfizer owned many notable works created by this house. One of the most spectacular is the Platinum Art Deco Necklace with 10 drop-shaped Colombian emeralds totaling 165 carats set with diamonds of various shapes and sizes. Designed in 1929, modified in 1937, and acquired for her in 1947 by a representative of an Egyptian court in France. The striking exhibit was worn by a hipster princess as a jewel in the court and was her property when she and her husband went into exile in Europe after the 1952 Egyptian revolution. After the divorce, the princess brought a necklace when she moved. To California, where her mother, Queen Nazuri, and her sister, Princess Fascia, lived.

Featuring five Pear-shaped Colombian emeralds, the 2020 Merveille de Melodes Diamond Necklace pays homage to Princess Faisas’ necklace. 1946 princess bracelet with round diamonds, baguette diamonds and emerald cut diamonds.

Another famous Van Cleef & Arpels work owned by the princess is the 1938 Double Clip Pivoin. It features two peonies set in the famous Celty Mystery or Mystery setting inspired by 19th century Roman micromosaic technology. This method, patented by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1933, revolutionized gem setting technology by allowing gems to be fixed without the need to see the mount, allowing the gem to be finished with optimal brilliance. .. The petals are set with 706 square-cut red rubies and 239 circular-cut and baguette-cut diamonds. Princess Pfizer sold both brooches separately, years before her death in 1994. One of them is currently in the Van Cleef & Arpels archive, but the location of the second brooch is unknown.

Equally striking is the 1946 diamond bracelet, set with approximately 58 carats of round diamonds, baguette diamonds and emerald-cut diamonds. Created to resemble a belt, this remarkable piece features a channel set diamond that mimics a flowing fabric.

Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Simpson wearing a ruby ​​and diamond clavate necklace at a party with the Duchess of Windsor

An important client of Van Cleef & Arpels with a very sharp taste, Wallis Simpson, an American socialite, preferred a simple, clean couture outfit that provided the perfect backdrop for her enviable jewelry collection. Over the years, her husband, the Duke of Windsor (Edward VIII, also known as the former King of England), purchased and customized many pieces as a testament to her love from the Maison. .. Among these are “Holdtight 27.III.36” (a gift given to Simpson a few months before his abdication) and two clips featuring rubies and diamonds from the mystery set on Christmas 1936. There was a carved diamond and ruby ​​bracelet.

2020 zip couture delicate button necklace in white gold and rose gold with emeralds, tsavorite garnet, lapis lazuli and diamonds.

The Duchess of Windsor also commissioned Van Cleef & Arpels to create a ruby ​​and diamond clavate necklace for the Duchess’ 40th birthday in 1936. The clasp was engraved with My Wallis from her David on June 19, 1936. Simpson is believed to have redesigned the necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels prolific jewelery designer Rene Simlacase and incorporated additional stones. The new platinum setting features rows of intertwined rubies and diamonds, which ended with a spectacular cascade of even more rubies.

The Duchess is also said to have been the inspiration behind the house’s iconic zip necklace. Her favorite fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli, has begun to add visible zipper details to her work. The Duchess proposed a practical item equivalent to Lenny Puisant, the daughter and artistic director of the founder couple of Van Cleef & Arpels during the Art Deco era. Designed to be worn open around the neck or closed to decorate the wrist as a bracelet, the necklace, which later became synonymous with the Maison, was realized in the late 1930s.

Elizabeth Taylor, actress Elizabeth Taylor’s deformable 1971 Barquerolles necklace

The 1971 Barquerolles necklace was inspired by the Venetian and knocker, which has a lion’s head and a diamond-set mane forming a collar. A sparkling piece set in yellow gold transforms into two bracelets and a brooch. Presented to Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Burton. Elizabeth Taylor writes about the moment she first saw this work. When I saw this set, my heart was clicking and my heart was clicking like a castanets, so I always know when something is right. Richard loved it to me and he said, awesome! You are so beautiful, no one intends to believe you as a grandmother.

(All images: Van Cleef & Arpels)

This story was published in the March 2021 issue of Prestige Singapore.

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