What an honour it was to be the only blogger/influencer in the world to be invited to preview Van Cleef & Arpels’ new high jewellery collection and L’Arche de Noe exhibition in Paris. Together with an esteemed company of jewellery editors, experts and luxury journalists, I was headed for the City of Love in true Van Cleef & Arpels’ style to discover a Noah’s Ark of bejewelled and beguiling animals! Check out my visit to the Van Cleef & Arpels’ boutique opening in London here.

I checked the beautifully laid-out itinerary from Van Cleef & Arpels one more time to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Meticulously planned and so thoughtfully arranged, it listed an exciting line-up packed full of luxurious jewellery adventures.

The hotel they had booked just so happens to be one of my favourites – the Mandarin Oriental on Saint Honoré where I celebrated my birthday last year. It is within walking distance of the Van Cleef & Arpels’ boutique and La Tour d’Argent, a Michelin restaurant where we would be dining later that evening. The press review and Noah’s Ark exhibition were being held at the luxurious Hôtel d’Évreux on Place Vendôme, right next to the re-opened and sparkly Ritz Paris Hotel. What an amazing experience Van Cleef and Arpels had planned. I was dreaming!


It’s become a bit of a tradition with me, but I can’t walk down Saint Honoré without stopping at Michel Cluizel’s for my favourite chocolate orange. On this particular occasion, I was struck by how stunning the Place Vendôme appeared in this beautiful light, and couldn’t resist taking a shot of Mansart’s masterpiece.

The Place Vendôme was built in the 18th century and Van Cleef & Arpels was one of the first jewellers to settle in here. It’s a hotspot for high jewellery and the perfect place for their jewellery school, L’École Van Cleef & Arpels, where I took classes during my last trip. If you have a spare weekend this September, book a class on jewellery history or gemology and of course, be sure to check out the Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition. It is important to take time for yourself, cherish and make your desires and dreams to come true.


Back at the Mandarin Oriental, I got all dressed up in a gorgeous Emilia Wickstead dress and Aquazzura shoes, and added layers of Alhambra in anticipation of the Van Cleef & Arpels dinner at La Tour d’ArgentAlhambra is the iconic Van Cleef & Arpels four-leaf clover that they launched in 1968. It is a symbol of good luck said to bring love, health, fortune, and luck to its owner. I am testing it out tonight! Already it feels like it’s going to be a magical evening.



Known for its breathtaking views from the fifth floor, La Tour d’Argent has been gracing 15 Quai de la Tournelle since 1582. It is elegantly romantic with wraparound views of the Seine and Notre Dame. Even the food is romantically designed in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and delightfully delicious! You can see why Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are often seen dining here!

After dinner, guests were treated to a history of the La Tour d’Argent given by André Terail, who is the proud third generation owner of this historic place. He told us why the fifth floor is reserved for dining and how the restaurant is home to an impressive wine cellar with more than 450,000 bottles of wine.


Back at the hotel, filled with dreams of Paris in 1582 and the Seine lit up at night, I drifted off to sleep excited for tomorrow’s jewellery adventures. I was eager to meet Van Cleef & Arpels’ creative director, so after breakfast at the Mandarin Oriental, I wasted no time in heading to the Hôtel d’Évreux on Place Vendôme for the press conference with Robert Wilson and Nicolas Bos and the first viewing of L’Arche de Noe Exhibition.


There’s something enchanting about Paris. Its history evokes so many thoughts that came to me now as I soaked up the historic luxury of Hôtel d’Évreux. I was lost in thought thinking about how men and women for ages had worn gemstones sewn into their clothing as jewellery.


Nowadays jewellery is seen as a feminine object only worn by women. Sadly, it has lost its historic context as a symbol of protection and good health and is now looked upon as a badge of social status, and a symbol of your husband’s wealth and power.


Further back in history, many laws have existed regulating the use of gold and gemstones. Reserved only for royalty and the church, jewellery was forbidden among the masses as decreed by King Edward III in England in 1363. Any artisan or peasant and their families who were found wearing gold or silver would be punished and perhaps executed. Thankfully, we don’t live in those times anymore. Jewellery now is much more accessible and universally enjoyed by everyone. Would love to hear your thoughts on the subject, so please leave a comment in the section below.


Fortunately, there is still a place for high jewellery thanks to the creativity of jewellery houses like Van Cleef & Arpels and their timeless designs. Extraordinary, yes. Exquisite, certainly. Expensive, most definitely! But refined and elegant. That’s the mark of a rich piece of jewellery for me. It’s not about the price tag or how large and heavily ornate a piece is, it’s about elegance and richness to a degree that is discreet and masterfully crafted. That’s why I’m so excited to finally see Van Cleef & Arpels L’Arche de Noe High Jewellery collection, because they are masters of good taste.


Paris is so theatrical and dreamy. My lost thoughts have left me in the right frame of mind for Robert Wilson’s magical set design to showcase Van Cleef & Arpels new High Jewelry collection. Robert Wilson is an American set designer famous for his ambient scenography and knack for evoking emotion. It was both thrilling and frightening all at the same time!


The anticipation was enough to wake me out of my reverie. I am only Russian after all! It’s in my blood to have deep thoughts! Plus being surrounded by so much history and the luxurious surroundings of the beautiful Hôtel d’Évreux helps. I can picture this place full of royalty, resplendent in their fine costumery and haute jewellery. Today, our resident royals are Van Cleef & Arpels and a delightful collection of animals – something la Maison has brought to life like no other.

Just as we were waiting for the press conference with Robert Wilson and Nicolas Bos to begin, I couldn’t help but notice the Creative Director’s ring. The presenter herself was wearing flower rings from the famed Hawaii collection. I have an eye for detail and I never miss an opportunity to admire people’s taste in jewellery. Guilty as charged! I notice the jewellery before I see the colour of the eyes!

Meanwhile, the show was about to begin and the animals were about to be paired off. The animals went in two by two, or so the song goes, and Van Cleef & Arpels’ Noah’s Ark of 60 brooches follows suit by pairing a delightful collection of animals together in haute style. Just look at these cute pair of doxies. Created in true Van Cleef & Arpels style, this collection captures la Maison’s skill and long tradition of designing animal brooches and clips that masterfully marry whimsy and artistry together in a look that’s always fun and fashionable.

These showcases are set very low for everyone to enjoy, even small children. They are set in the wall like this to invoke the inside of a cargo hold of a ship, or in this case an ark. It was part of Robert Wilson’s vision. He imagined that deep inside an ark of Van Cleef & Arpel’s animals there would be box after box of jewel cases – like a matrix plunged into the engulfing darkness.

To set the stage and bring the whole thing to life, Robert Wilson captured the reality of the elements with light, sound and video. Soft music – Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt – played in the background, at first lulling us into a state of ease, then plunging us into the engulfing darkness of the approaching storm. Video reminiscent of the sea played before our eyes and bolts of lightning shot through the air.

We were thrown into a world of darkness, illuminated only by the beautiful animals from Van Cleef & Arpels’ L’Arche de Noe. These beautiful creatures were our light at the end of the tunnel and our hope for the future! A beautiful message housed in this wonderful exhibit under the masterful hands of Robert Wilson. Be sure to check it out. It’s open to the public from September 3 to 26, 2016. Free admission from 12:00 to 8:00 at the Hôtel d’Évreux, 19, place Vendôme 75001 paris.


In addition, the Maison is extending this exhibit and invite you to discover these beautiful animals for yourself at their Heritage Gallery at 20, place Vendôme from mid-September to mid-November 2016. The Boutique will exhibit nearly 70 pieces dating from the 1920s to the modern day. How exciting!


And so that brings us to the end of the tour and back to the Mandarin Oriental, where a delicious lunch was about to be served. But no time to lose, I’m flying off to Venice now onto my next jewellery journey, which I will share with you all in another blog. Sadly, there’s not even enough time to add to my own jewellery collection of sculptural brooches. Not to worry. I will forever have the memory of today and Van Cleef & Arpels L’Arche de Noe High Jewellery Collection.


“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.

I am extremely happy to announce that my new jewelry book – GEMOLOGUE: Street Jewellery Styles & Styling Tips – is now on Amazon. I’m so excited. It’s the first book of its kind solely dedicated to jewellery. 

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GEMOLOGUE jewelry blog by Liza Urla is a celebration of fine, fashion and vintage jewellery featuring talented jewellery designers, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews. This jewellery blog’s goal is to encourage and educate about jewellery online in a fresh and original fashion to inspire women and men across the globe in a fashion and travelling context.

Jewellery blogger, writer Liza Urla, the founder of GEMOLOGUE, is a London-based and NYC-educated gemologist, who has travelled to and lived in many countries. She is now one of the most influential digital jewellery tastemakers. Her jewellery influence has been acknowledged by Financial Times, The New York Times, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

*Styling and art direction by Liza Urla. All photos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEMOLOGUE.

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