In 1896, a marriage between Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef signalled the very beginnings of the Van Cleef & Arpels story. A marriage of love and also jewellery excellence, Estelle was the daughter of a gemstone dealer and Alfred from family of expert stonecutters. Alfred and his new brother-in-law Charles Arpels founded their business ten years later, with premesis at the famed Place Vendome, where the company remains to this day.
In the 1920s, Van Cleef & Arpels established themselves at the forefront of trends. Taking inspiration from the discovery of the tomb of Tutankamun in 1922, the firm was amongst the first to produce Art Deco jewels with Egyptian Revival designs, as well as exotic Chinese, Japanese and Indian styles. The first 'Secret Watch' was created in 1923.
Significantly, in 1926, Estelle and Alfred's daughter Renée Puissant became the Maison's Artistic Director, in collaboration with designer René-Sim Lacaze. This pair together forged a distinctive house style for Van Cleef that is recognisable to this day.
Famed Van Cleef collections include the 'Mystery Setting' which was patented in 1933. The Mystery Setting was a groundbreaking way of setting calibre cut stones in a way that no metal is shown. The Minaudière was introduced in the same year, designed as a perfected beauty compact with compartments for everything the modern woman required. The firm's Zip necklace was perfected in 1950, after twelve years in the making, this iconic piece could be worn open as a necklace or closed as a bracelet. The Alhambra collection was introduced in 1968, symbollising luck in its beautiful quatrefoil design, set with mother of pearl and various hardstones.
Our specialist Fine Jewellery auctions are held 4 times a year and include the whole spectrum of jewellery, from modern and designer pieces to antique jewels, coloured gemstone jewellery to fine diamond rings. Our department is headed by Liz Bailey who is FGA and DGA qualified, with many years experience in the industry. We offer a free valuation service as well as a free collection service for items consigned to these auctions.
Contact our qualified specialist Liz Bailey to find out more.
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