VAN CLEEF & ARPELS “L’ARCHE DE NOÉ” HIGH JEWELLERY COLLECTION
Van Cleef & Arpels are known for their wonderfully whimsical creatures and exquisite brooches and clips. And you know how much I love animals and jewellery. So this recreation of Noah’s Ark and the continuation of a Van Cleef & Arpels tradition fills my heart with glee. Featuring 60 animal clips (that have two pins as opposed to a brooch that only has one), paired off in twos (presumably male and female, if we are to stay true to the Noah story) are at once romantic, endearing and symbols of love, harmony, and hope. Imagined through the glitter of diamonds, coloured sapphires, fiery opals and lustrous onyx and turquoise, each creation takes shape through a bounty of precious stones, each carefully selected to give life to the piece.
Check out my visit to the Van Cleef & Arpels’ exhibition opening in Paris here.
“The concept of staging sixty or so animal pairs in connection with Noah’s Ark originates from a painting by Jan Brueghel the Elder exhibited at the J. Paul Getty museum in Los Angeles”, explains Nicolas Bos, CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels. “I will never forget the shock I felt as I stood gazing at the painting The Entry of the Animals into Noah’s Ark, and the journey it embarked me on at once.”
Each piece starts out as an artist rendering of the intended animal, like my favourite here of Pegasus. This particular clip captured my imagination with its Mystery Set rubies. This speaks to my point earlier about loving discreet, masterful design. This emblematic technique is incredibly beautiful and was patented by the Maison in 1933. It allows the stones to be set in a way that hides the supporting metalwork beneath. I love it!
Van Cleef & Arpels have captured this mythological character in a majestic posture and clothed it in a body of Mystery Set rubies on pink gold that extend all the way down its tail. Exquisite! The intricately crafted hooves and feathers of coral are painstakingly adjusted one by one to give Pegasus flight. The attention to detail is divine! From the varied gem cuts – round, baguette, rose or buff-topped marquise – each plays an important role in shaping the character of this classic creature.
What an incredible transformation from conception to the final jewellery piece! Seeing the before and after presents another level of understanding of just how much skill and craftsmanship goes into each outstanding item.
The crowning stone in this clip is a white opal cabochon of 46.22 carats. It simply glows with fire and life! Then you glimpse the charming squirrels who seem too distracted by their love for each other to care!
Warm and lively, this piece is an assortment of passionate colours that accentuate the reds and greens emanating from the dazzling opal. Polished yellow gold and diamonds, yellow sapphires, spessartite garnets add to the fire and romance of this clip, and the passion that these partner squirrels share.
First depicted in the 1940s, the Van Cleef & Arpels unicorn is a fabulous medieval creature that is traditionally shown in profile, like it is here. This enchanting unicorn gives off a playful air that is once flirty and coy, but always graceful.
Mystery Set sapphires enrobe this mythical creature, giving it a striking effect of colour and relief. Stones, like these deep blue sapphires, are recut in situ to achieve the desired effect of grace and movement. The matching baguettes in the unicorn’s mane and tail give the piece fluidity and unity, while the turquoise hooves seem poised for frolicking in the woods!
The interplay between these two lovely zebras is a dialogue of onyx and lapis lazuli, that glistens with alternating diamonds. Opposing colours sets each zebra apart, while matching stripes bring the two together in everlasting harmony.
This colourful design is echoed in the muzzles and a variety of diamonds cuts – round, square and triangle – add a different visual element to this geometric design. It is a duet played out in onyx and lapis lazuli.
My totem animal, the giraffe gets its name from the Arabic word for friendly or graceful: zarafa. The elegant, slender charm of these Savannah animals is depicted in yet another technique by Van Cleef & Arpels, known as a massed setting. Stones are pressed directly into the precious metal, which gives it an even, smooth feel.
Diamonds and coloured sapphires wrapped in gold and cut in a variety of shapes – round, square, marquise and baguette – give the illusion of the unique patchwork design of a giraffe’s coat. It’s the perfect technique for this animal. I love how the black spinels in the mane and hooves give contrast to the piece. The diamond tails, a highlight that pulls the pair together.
“l’Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels” exhibition from September 3 to 26, 2016. Free admission from 12:00 to 8:00. Hôtel d’Évreux, 19, place Vendôme.
“A journey through Van Cleef & Arpels animal creations” exhibition from mid-September to mid-November 2016, Heritage Gallery at 20, place Vendôme.
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