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Through the years: A look at Van Cleef & Arpels’ Heritage Collection

Audrey Simon
Audrey Simon • 3 min read
Through the years: A look at Van Cleef & Arpels’ Heritage Collection
Featuring 200 historic items, including stunning jewels and precious objects from their Jewellery and High Jewellery collections dating back to the 1920s
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It was a morning well spent with Natacha Vassiltchikov, deputy director of the Van Cleef & Arpels Heritage Collection, who took a group of guests and media on an informative journey through the chronological timeline of the Heritage Collection. Before a piece can join the collection, it is thoroughly examined by Van Cleef & Arpels’ experts. Artisans closely analyse the condition of each piece. After it is cleaned, necessary repair work is carried out by the maison’s exacting standards and savoir-faire.

Here are some of the exquisite creations we saw up close.

Dentelle earrings, 1940. Yellow gold, white gold, sapphires, rubies, diamonds

Creations imitating lace have been found in Van Cleef & Arpels collections from an early date and continue to be popular throughout the decades. The influence of couture is evident in these earrings.

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Clip, 1946. Platinum, yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, diamonds

The influence of couture appears in the creative use of gold and diamonds to achieve volume and dimension. The curved gold loops evoke twisted ribbons adorned with a series of interlocking bows.

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Earrings, 1945. Platinum, white gold, diamonds

Note the creative use of platinum and diamonds to create dimension and movement. The baguette-cut diamonds draw one’s eye inward toward the centre stones and outward toward the wearer.

Kodak ring, 1963. Platinum, rubies, diamonds

Couture textiles have long inspired the maison, and these earrings reflect the twisting trimmings of classic passementerie textiles. The full rounded shape of these earrings was likely derived from lanterns.

Hindou necklace, 1966. Yellow gold, white gold, platinum, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, diamonds

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Eastern cultures continued to exert influence on fashion as jewellery grew larger, more colourful, and bolder in the late 1960s. The use of gold, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds forms a floral design reminiscent of motifs found in Indian textiles.

Earrings, 1973. Yellow gold, white gold, lapis lazuli, jade, diamonds

These earrings demonstrate the immense savoir-faire needed to create a piece with such varied textures. Jade is not only considered a pure stone with many virtues, but it is also extremely beautiful and durable. Lapis lazuli was cherished by many ancient cultures. The pendants are detachable, and the tops of the earrings can be worn separately.

Dragon clip transformable into a pendant, 1969. Yellow gold, white gold, emeralds, coral

This piece likely garnered the most interest, as dragons are benevolent creatures typically depicted among clouds, sometimes grasping a pearl in their mouth or reaching for a flaming pearl just beyond their grasp. This image can be interpreted as a metaphor for enlightenment and wisdom.

Etoiles clip. Yellow gold, round diamonds, cabochon-cut coral, white gold, pink gold

Organic materials such as coral were frequently used in the 1970s and could be worn from day to night for a variety of tastes and occasions. This “Etoiles” or star clip is an example of how the size of jewellery grew larger and bolder in the 1970s.

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