VAN CLEEF & ARPELS was founded in 1896 by Alfred Van Cleef and his father-in-law Salomon Arpels in Paris. Their pieces often feature flowers, animals, and fairies, and has a track record of creating exquisite jewelry for royalty, celebrities and the lavishly wealthy. The Maison’s jewelry has adorned the likes of Queen Sophia of Spain, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor as well as today’s celebrities such as Mariah Carey and Reese Witherspoon.
From delicate flowers to playful animals and billowing ballerinas, Van Cleef & Arpels has long been celebrated for their masterfully crafted and fantastical jewelry. Van Cleef & Arpels was born as a union between two lovers, Estelle Arpels, the daughter of a dealer in precious stones, and Alfred Van Cleef, the son of a stone cutter. The couple married in 1895 and were driven by their pioneering spirit and passion for precious stones to create the Van Cleef jewelry brand.
The Maison was founded in 1906 between Alfred and Estelle’s brother Charles. The two opened a boutique in Place Vendome in Paris, directly across from the Ritz Hotel. This location attracted many European aristocrats who fell in love with Van Cleef & Arpels’ creations, thereby helping to spread the Maison’s timeless pieces with the world. Van Cleef & Arpels has continuously employed a wide array of precious stones in their jewelry, including diamonds, sapphires and carnelian.
Among the iconic innovations of Van Cleef & Arpels are the Minaudière, a jeweled evening case appointed with meticulously fitted accessories, as well as the famous technique of invisible settings which was patented in Paris in 1933 and first appeared in New York around 1935. The famous Zip necklace became the most fashionable ornament of the 1940s and 1905s and the most distinctive jewels ever produced. Designed as a proper zip fastener, it was adorned with a tassel of gold threads that could be pulled up to fasten it and transform it into a bracelet.
Today, VAN CLEEF & ARPELS still continues to excel in setting the most precious gemstones into harmonious shapes and lines along with classical jewels.