Last week during a preview day of Masterpiece, I had a rare opportunity to try on and chat with Nicolas Bos, Van Cleef & Arpels Creative Director and CEO, about one of Van Cleef’s iconic and much sought-after design: the Zip Necklace. Every zip necklace is unique, and the one on show here was crafted from white gold, diamonds and rubies. Invented in late 19th century America as a fastening for boots, the humble zipper seems far removed from the realm of sophistication, high jewellery in particular! Yet despite its humble origins, it has inspired one of Van Cleef & Arpels’ most iconic pieces. The Zip necklace blends humour and craftsmanship.

Van Cleef & Arpels_The Zip Necklace_GEMOLOGUE_Liza Urla

In 1938 Duchess of Windsor challenged Renée Puissant, the Maison’s artistic director and daughter of Alfred Van Cleef, to design a high jewellery zipper. She was inspired by Elsa Schiaparelli, whose biography I have just read and one of her favourite designers and the first couturier to use visible zippers in the early 1930s.

The finished high jewellery piece is an outstanding feat of jewellery engineering. The seemingly simple transformative function of a zipper hides within an extremely complex jewellery architecture and technique. It took Van Cleef & Arpels roughly 15 years to realise Duchess of Windsor’s request. Zippers we use on handbags and clothes work because the steel teeth are attached to elements that do not change shape and spaces between teeth are always the same. However gold is malleable and soft, so you cannot create a gold necklace in an industrial manner. Instead, such necklace has to be made by hand, adjusting each teeth one by one, and there is only one workshop in the world that has the knowledge and skill to do so. The Zip necklace was revisited in various forms throughout the 50’s and is still a distinctive element in Van Cleef & Arpels’ collections today.


Van Cleef & Arpels_The Zip Necklace_GEMOLOGUE_Liza Urla

Thanks for stopping by! You might also like to discover my review of Mike Joseph diamond scarf necklace and Chopard happy hearts necklace!

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.

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

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