10 fun facts about van Cleef & Arpels that you did not know!

Van Cleef & Arpels is one of the most iconic names. Born as a small jewelry shop in Paris, it has become one of the most famous jewelry houses in the world. 

VanCleef arpels Ooiseaux birds Collection jewelry animal

Beautiful fine jewelry by Van Cleef & Arpels from the Oiseaux de Paradis collection. I personally love this collection so much as it is frivolous, light and playful. Although I can admire an important classical piece, I am much more attracted to the playful side of jewelry. And Van Cleef & Arpels are truly magnificent in capturing the beauty and playfulness of the birds here.

It all started with the marriage of Estelle Arpels and Alfred van Cleef in 1895. In 1906 they started to work under the name: Van Cleef & Arpels. And still today, even for those who are not so much familiar with the world of jewelry, it is a household name.

VanCleef Arpels wedding ring

Should you wish to do so: Van Cleef & Arpels have a a wonderful collection of wedding bands and engagement rings


Here are 10 facts you might not know about the brand!

  1. Van Cleef & Arpels did not get its name from the lovely couple Alfred and Estelle, but it was Estelle’s brother Charles Arpels who set up the company with Alfred. Later her other two brothers joined the company: Julien and Louis.
  2. Van Cleef & Arpels had some very unhappy but super wealthy women as their clients. 
  • The heiress of the Woolworth fortune - 50 milion dollar - at 21 years old:  Barbara Hutton, who had an absent philanderer as a father and a mum who killed herself when Barbara was only 6 years old. She had 7 failed marriages and died alone and lonely in a hotel room. She was also completely broke.

Van Cleef arpels butterfly jewelry

The butterfly collection
  • Another one is Maria Callas. Famous for her voice all over the world. But when she was born her mum was disappointed to have another daughter and she refused to care of her for 4 days. After her talent was discovered she was made to sing at age 5 and earned money for the family. She hated it and saw at the same time how mum worshipped her much prettier sister. Maria lost her life at only 53, whilst living alone in Paris after Onassis had left her for Jackie Kennedy earlier.

VanCleef arpelsbetween finger ring

Today these kinds of rings are so much in fashion. I love them; ''the between the finger rings'' Hopefully we will see many more developements in how jewelry can evolve and how its worn. As we get more and more influences from abroad, we see so many new things that will eventually influence our fashion sense and taste.
  • And there was Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiari. She married the shah of Persia at only 19. Her family, once so important, was thrown out of Persia later as family non grata. She failed to produce a child during their 7 years marriage and she had to divorce the shah, who went on marrying Farah Diba (who gave birth to 4 children, 2 committed suicide)
  • Grace Kelly, was a more fortunate woman, who in spite of her family’s disapproval, went to Hollywood to have a short but sweet acting career. Even gaining an Oscar. She married Prince Rainier of Monaco. And never got to act again. Rumor has it that she has suffered not being allowed back into her own career. She lost her life very young, she was only 52 when she suffered a heart attack and drove of the road.

Van Cleef arpels Photos 1

Pureness, clean...almost like a painting from the Rijksmuseum! These photo's give you an idea of how van Cleef & Arpels sees its jewelry. If I should make one remark...and I want to ;-) : I miss photo's of the clientele that most probably buys more jewelry than the beautiful ladies in this picture. I miss the 30 somethings and the 40 somethings and the generation after that too....But I do get the idea here of creating a classical painting almost.

3. Forbes called the Pierre Arpels watch: *the pink shirt of watches*. This watch, designed by Pierre in 1949, had the purpose of being easy to pull in and out a shirt, as it was so thin. Van Cleef & Arpels are more famous for their high end jewelry watches for ladies. But the in 1971 commercialized version of the Pierre Arpels watch is still stunning today and easy to wear and very elegant.

Van Cleef arpels watch Zip Pierre Sharon stone


Pierre Arpels, wearing the watch he designed for himself. So sleek and flat that it would just easily pop out from his sleeve, when he needed it. The watch has been commercialized in 1971. Some claim it to be not very manly. But maybe it takes a real man to pull off something this sleek and elegant ;-) The Zip collier is one of the most famous and talked about pieces of jewelry in history. Created for Wallis Simpson, it is a true piece of technical intelligence and utter craftsmanship. The image in the middle is an old beautiful one from Van Cleef & Arpels. And Sharon Stone wore a ballerina brooch from 1955 to the Acadamy Awards in the mid-nineties. 


4. Van Cleef & Arpels invented the minaudière. This was a little vanity case in gold and or silver and enamel. The case was inspired by  Frances Gould.  Minaudière is a homage to the wife or Alfred…Estelle was famous for her smile and the minaudière is a reference to that famous simpering smile.

VanCleef arpels Minaudiere


The Minaudière by Van Cleef & Arpels. I love these treasures that are related to the jewelry industry, but yet aren't jewelry to be worn. Pens, cigar holders, lighter, combs and what else...if these objects are the subject of a master jeweler, transforming them into the most gracious and most amazing pieces, I am in awe...always. 


 5. Richemont is owner of Van Cleef & Arpels. This group, established in 1988, bought 60% in 1999. Later they gained more and so Van Cleef & Arpels is now belonging to the group that has Cartier, Net-a Porter, IWC, Piaget, Montblanc, Jaeger LeCoultre, Panerai,Chloe, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constatin, Baume et Mercier and so many other luxury brands in its portfolio

 6. Van Cleef & Arpels are the  owner of the patent for the Mystery Setting. This setting was invented within the company and patented in 1933. Still today an amazing craftsmanship and special skilss are needed to be able to create a piece with a mystery setting. Not something every bench jeweler can actually make.

VanCleefArpels Mystery setting bracelet jewelryxamples of the mystery setting. so beautiful!



7. Did you know you can create your own 8 second video, sending love and luck to someone, created by Van Cleef & Arpels? Ever so cute! http://8-seconds-of-luck.vancleefarpels.com/

 8. The four-leaf clover shape emblematic of the collection is inspired by Jacques Arpels, who collected four-leaf clovers in his garden and presented them to his staff, along with a poem he had chosen. He meant the gesture as a reminder to be always hopeful. I like that!

Van Cleef arpels jewelry high end


9. 2900 hours were necessary for the Mains d’Or ™ to manufacture this piece of a remarkable flexibility, allowing to wear it at several levels, from the wrist to the forearm. Entirely made of white gold and adorned with a purple tourmaline of 12,39 carats, diamonds, colored sapphires, tsavorite, Mandarin and demantoid garnets, red             spinels and turquoise, the Naga decor bracelet symbolizes a mythical creature from Cambodian tales and legends. This creature often represented with a stone on the head is the guardian of the vital energy of the oceans. Just look at all the details and imagine what skills one must have on so many levels!


naga decor bracelet Van Cleef arpels

Naga Decor Bracelet. 


 10. Van Cleef & Arpels revealed a very new collection this month of high end jewelry? Called the SEVEN SEAS. Below you can enjoy the beauty of all the seven seas collection:


VanCleef Arpels SevenSeas jewelry collection

VanCleef Arpels sevenSeasjewelrycollection

Van Cleef Arpels seven seas collection 2015

VanCleef arpels Seven seas jewelry collection


All pieces from the SEVEN SEAS collection, presented this month!  Although I almost always favor a piece with an animal or something;-) this time I must admit that I am in LOVE with that pearl bracelet! If you like to know all the details from the pieces, please visit the website of Van Cleef & Arpels. These are all high end jewerly pieces and therefor come with a certain cost. Is Van Cleef & Arpels worth it? I would say, without a doubt: Yes...it always is worth, should you be able to afford it, to invest in a piece of jewelry by Van Cleef & Arpels. But most of all, jewelry that is extremely well made, with stunning design and the best possible materials, is jewelry that one will never ever regret to have spend money on. You will be able to enjoy it for the rest of your life and pass it on to the next generation who will be able to enjoy it themselves and perhaps pass it on too. Should it ever come to that: they maintain a certain value over time, so at an auction or something, they will have the added value of their beauty and quality, as well as the name Van Cleef & Arpels.




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