It seems as though love is at the heart of most of the jewellery designs I’ve encountered in my travels. Perhaps Van Cleef & Arpels is one of the most famous and influential. The first clue is in the very name – Estelle Arpels & Alfred Van Cleef – two people drawn together by a passion for each other and precious stones.
I couldn’t wait to delve deeper into this love story and others on my visit to the newly renovated Van Cleef and Arpels London boutique, New Bond Street, Mayfair.
My excitement grew as I walked up to the Maison’s big, heavy doors and pushed them open with those beautiful VC&A monogram door handles – so iconic. Check out my Snapchat: LizaUrla and see for yourself!
The history of the great jewellery maison all started in the Place Vendôme in 1906 – in the heart of the city of love, Paris – 11 years after Alfred and Estelle were married in 1895. They shared a passion for beautiful design and precious stones, as well as a family tradition in the jewellery business. So, it was only natural the two would form a bond that would transcend anything they imagined in their timeless jewellery designs.
Warm, inviting tones of soft beige and subtle shades of grey greet you from the inside of this newly renovated space. The beautiful staircase sweeping into the room gives it the movement that Van Cleef & Arpels perfected in their designs.
Multi-faceted, just like their jewels, the room sparkles with beautiful glass and chrome. The staircase spirals up through many floors, giving me a bird’s eye view from the top.
From the first floor, you can enjoy Van Cleef & Arpels High Jewellery collections, as well as their gorgeous watches and exquisite bridal pieces. I fell in love with this beautiful necklace.SHOP THE LOOK: SAINT LAURENT Yeah Baby embroidered jacket STELLA MCCARTNEY sleeveless jacket STELLA MCCARTNEY cat-eye sunglasses STELLA MCCARTNEY trousers ANTONIO BERARDI tailored jacket BALENCIAGA V-neck jacket STELLA MCCARTNEY jacket
I had a hard time parting with this necklace from the Van Cleef & Arpels High Jewellery collection. The colours, the design, my Stella McCartney jacket, it’s all just too perfect!
You could wear this necklace with virtually anything at all.
Or nothing at all, whatever is your fancy!
The iconic Van Cleef & Arpels Ballerina and Fairy clip collection came into being in the 1940s. This collection was a particular favourite of Louis Arpel, who loved the ballet.
Up on the second floor, we’re going to encounter such beautiful creations as those inspired by nature – Cosmos, Lotus and Two Butterfly collections. Floor two is also home to Van Cleef & Arpels’ most iconic collection, that timeless symbol of luck, Alhambra.
TWO BUTTERFLY BETWEEN THE FINGER RING, PINK GOLD, ROUND PINK SAPPHIRES, WHITE GOLD, ROUND AND MARQUISE-CUT DIAMONDS; DIAMOND QUALITY DEF, IF TO VVS. £17,300.00
The butterfly is another favourite motif of Van Cleef & Arpels, and the Two Butterfly collection is significant, and perhaps, emblematic of the pair’s famous bond and passionate union. Check out the video here.
TWO BUTTERFLY BETWEEN THE FINGER RING, YELLOW GOLD, ROUND TSAVORITE GARNETS, WHITE GOLD, ROUND AND MARQUISE-CUT DIAMONDS; DIAMOND QUALITY DEF, IF TO VVS.
The butterfly motif is explored in some rare and exquisite detail in the Butterfly Collection. The precision and symmetry that goes into each one of these Flying Beauties is nothing less than divine perfection.
FLYING BUTTERFLY BETWEEN THE FINGER RING, WHITE GOLD, ROUND DIAMONDS; DIAMOND QUALITY DEF, IF TO VVS. £28,500
FLYING BUTTERFLY BETWEEN THE FINGER RING, WHITE GOLD, PINK GOLD, ROUND AND MARQUISE-CUT DIAMONDS; DIAMOND QUALITY DEF, IF TO VVS, £24,700
Up on the third floor is a private salon with the most exceptional pieces on display. This was by far my favourite collection.
BYSANCE NECKLACE, 1972, INDIAN INSPIRATION BAG, 1964, CACHEMERI PENDANT CLIP 1969, INDIAN INSPIRATION RING, CIRCA 1970
This lace bow clip was popular with the ladies in the 1940s. Made of platinum, gold and diamonds, it is lightweight enough to wear with the most delicate of evening gowns. Royalty loved this collection.
LACE BOW CLIP 1945, PLATINUM, GOLD, DIAMONDS
I couldn’t wait to dive into this book and share some of its treasures with you. But I promised you a love story, isn’t there just the thing in my goody bag: Van Cleef & Arpels Treasures and Legends.
For starters, after reading about Wallis Warfield Simpson and the incident of a burglar making off with some of her jewels, I’ve started wearing more jewelery when I leave home! Just like she did on that fated night.
CERFS-VOLANTS 1 MOTIF BETWEEN THE FINGER RING
There is such movement and fluidity in each piece that they come to life when you wear them.
It’s amazing how beautiful jewellery and famous love stories follow each other. This jewellery Maison has been bringing famous lovers together for decades. To name a few: Wallis Warfield Simpson and Edward VIII; Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco; Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
DIAMOND DANCER DECOR CLIP, HIGH JEWELRY COLLECTION
Style and movement are two words that come together in every Van Cleef & Arpels creation. The attention to detail is amazing. Each piece flows from an asymmetrical design of exquisite beauty.
Perhaps one of the most charming aspects of the Edward and Mrs. Simpson love affair with jewellery, were the inscriptions. In 1936, Edward had the words, ‘Hold Tight’ engraved on the clasp of a beautiful ruby and diamond bracelet. A stunning necklace to match of 101 rubies was inscribed with the words, ‘My Wallis from her David’ (Edward’s family nickname).Another fascinating love story in this book is the one between Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III. The lovely new bride was to receive many gifts from admirers on her wedding day, not least of which from her new husband.
She was showered with bridal gifts – a Van Cleef & Arpels ribbon bracelet, and a Daisy clip with diamonds for petals and a large cabochon sapphire flower in the centre.
Prince Rainier chose for his new bride a stunning engagement set of diamonds and cultured pearls by Van Cleef & Arpels – a three-strand necklace with matching bracelet, ring and earrings.
But there was one gift by Van Cleef & Arpels that didn’t make it, because it was so admired by the purchaser – the Greek millionaire Aristotle Onasis gave it to his wife instead!
Speaking of love affairs and magnificent gifts of jewellery, I am collaborating with a famous psychologist on an article about men and women and tokens of affection. How can we get men to gift more jewellery? Stay tuned!
PERLÉE RINGS, WHITE & YELLOW GOLD FROM £600
Simple elegance, each gold bead in the Perlée collection is polished by hand, and contains a wish. Imagine the fun you could have with these and your loved one, making wishes together. Such a wonderful gift –an ode to elegance and modernity.
I just love reading about the inspiration behind each famous jewellery collection. It sets up such a wonderful connection with jewellery, making it more personal than ever. I feel the same connection with each of my own pieces of jewellery.
The stories behind each, perhaps, aren’t as exciting, but they are dear to me and that just increases their value.Experience this wonderful collection and grand re-opening yourself at the Van Cleef & Arpels Mayfair Boutique, 9 New Bond St., London.