For over a century, Van Cleef & Arpels has delighted lovers of fine jewelry with feminine and creative inventions. The French jewelry house is synonymous with luxury, whimsical designs, and outstanding gemstones, bringing ultimate craftsmanship into each and every one of their creations. As one of the world’s most desirable luxury jewelry brands, Van Cleef & Arpels is also one of the most expensive jewelry brands on the market. Van Cleef & Arpels was formed between the marriage of two lovers Estelle Arpels, daughter of precious stone dealer, and Alfred Van Cleef, son of a stone cutter. With this union, the Van Cleef & Arpels family was brought to life in 1896. Known for their innovation, Van Cleef & Arpels worked hard to create artfully crafted pieces full of diamonds and gemstones, and gave birth to the famous patent known called Mystery Setting or Serti Mysterieux in French, in 1933. It is a technique that employs a setting where the prongs are invisible and each one of the stones is put onto gold rails which are less than two-tenths of millimeter thick. This technique requires 300 hours of work precision per piece or ever more, with very few gems produced each year. Throughout their history, Van Cleef & Arpels established themselves by receiving elite clientele and have been beloved by the likes of royalty, and classic style icons such as Duchess of Windsor, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly – and modern celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Julia Roberts and Mariah Carey. Today we are giving a tribute to the legendary Zip Collection by Van Cleef & Arpels.
The legendary Zip Collection by Van Cleef & Arpels:
Perhaps one of the most iconic and truly original jewels created is the “Zip” necklace from Zip Collection by Van Cleef & Arpels. The idea was born in the 1930’s from a chance conversation between the Duchess of Windsor and Renée Puissant, the artistic director and daughter of its founding couple, with an idea for a high jewelry necklace evoking a zip closure. It took about 12 years to perfect a fully functioning zipper, while having to figure out the manufacturing of a functioning gold and bejeweled zipper necklace. Featuring a working zipper closure, the highly flexible necklace captures the spirit of 1950’s couture by linking the versatile “Haute Couture”. Van Cleef & Arpels in renowned for its convertible jewels, and the Zip is no different. The necklace converts into a stylish bracelet by removing the upper part to “zip” into a bracelet, with the chic gold tassel dangling on the side of the arm. Very few examples of the jewel have been made over time because they are extremely difficult and challenging to create.
The technical challenges explain why the design was patented in 1938 but not produced until 1951. It took the jeweler that long to find expert workers with precise technical skills capable of producing one. Since its début in 1951, the Zip Collection by Van Cleef & Arpels has become company’s most sought-after designs. Given the expertise and at least 400 to 1,200 hours of required labor to make the challenging style.
Van Cleef & Arpels artisans craft a fully functioning zipper by creating a series of tiny gold cups, supported by golden hooks that blend with one another when brought together by a sliding closure. Once the gold or platinum components are accumulated, touches of coral and diamonds, sapphires and emeralds, pearls and rubies are added to the piece. In recent years, Van Cleef & Arpels has recreated a modern day “Zip” necklace which remains as a highly covetable jewel and is an exemplary example of the original design and craftsmanship.
On the red carpet:
Displaying the Zip Collection by Van Cleef & Arpels’ timeless elegance and artistry, actress Margot Robbie wore the $1.5 million classic Zip necklace, set with 150—diamonds and 300-sapphires in 18K gold, at the 2015 Academy Awards. This iteration rocked gobs of Chrysoprase and Turquoise, 76 carats of precious gems: 113 Sapphire beads from the tassel pull, and 660 round white Diamonds with 98 princess-cut Diamonds. The ornately jeweled design took over 600 hours to create. The duchess’s extraordinary vision has been serving as a trendsetter for decades and only proves how her idea shaped the entire Van Cleef & Arpels legacy.
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