From the beginning, the Maison was created with gems at its heart, following the marriage of Estelle Arpels, daughter of a gemstone merchant, and Alfred Van Cleef, son of a lapidary. The history of Van Cleef & Arpels was then marked by romantic acquisitions, taken to auction and discussed by the press, with historic stones that traveled from Golconda, India to the Place Vendôme and princess-like jewels that were acclaimed by both royal courts and stage and screen personalities. Through the years, Van Cleef & Arpels has consistently paid tribute to the beauty of gemstones, celebrating their colors, their brilliance, and their elegant shapes, and flaunts a long history of enhancing jewels that elicit a unique emotion.
25 MISTERY SET
The story of the Legend of diamonds – 25 Mystery Set Jewels collection began in 2018, when the Maison encountered a rough diamond, the Lesotho Legend. Presented to Van Cleef & Arpels by diamond dealer Taché, a long-time partner, the stone was initially exceptional for its weight: 910 carats. It was the fifth largest rough diamond in both size and quality ever mined. One of the purest, that has a great optical clarity. In this case, the stone was from Lesotho, known as the home of gems of remarkable size and quality. The Maison’s collaboration with this mine that is committed to sustainable development ensures complete traceability of the rough diamond. The combination of gems was decided with the help of 3D software that allowed each cut diamond to be seen inside the rough stone. For almost a year, gemologists’ eye was combined with cutting-edge technology to perfect these combinations, avoid inclusions, and limit the loss of material. The diamond cutter then worked each stone, giving it facets that were polished to give the gems their full brilliance.
At the heart of Van Cleef & Arpels, the Design Studio was committed to upholding its highly recognizable style through the 25 pieces of the collection. The designers worked hand in hand with expert gemologists and the High Jewelry Workshops to design precious settings inspired by the history of the Maison for the diamonds from the rough stone. Van Cleef & Arpels opted to combine each of the gems with the Mystery Set: one of the most complex signature techniques mastered by the Place Vendôme Workshops. Bringing together curved lines and the intense interplay of colors in rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, the Design Studio worked to infuse lightness and movement into the most precious materials. The entire collection, the result of more than 30,000 hours of work, comes to life thanks to the Mains d’Or (literally “hands of gold”), the artisans who carry on the tradition of expertise that is constantly being perfected. The experts selected the gems by eye and in daylight according to very precise criteria: generous culasse and high table, intense and uniform color, as well as clear material.
The creations of the Legend of diamonds – 25 Mystery Set Jewels collection also undergo astonishing metamorphoses, allowing up to six different ways to wear some of them. For example, the central diamond of the Atours Mystérieux necklace can be detached, replaced by an Individual Mystery Set motif, and simply slipped onto a chain, while that of the Collerette Mystérieux necklace can be used to adorn a matching ring. This 25 Mystery Set collection presents 14 declination of lines which perfectly embodies the Maison’s meticulous attention to every detail. As the heaviest stone in the collection, this 79.35-carat diamond is given pride of place in the Atours Mystérieux necklace. To emphasize the brilliance of its material, the Maison selected an oval cut with harmonious proportions that are both slender and full. The diamond and ruby swirls are inspired by two iconic pieces in the history of Van Cleef & Arpels: the Collerette necklace, designed in 1938, and the majestic diamond necklace created for Queen Nazli of Egypt in 1939. Then there are Couture ring and Corolle earrings Mysterieuse, which both present a swirls of traditional Mystery Set rubies. The earrings remind of the graphic lines of the Disques crafted in 1935.
Expressing timeless elegance, the family includes Volutes Mysterieuses, Satin Mysterieux, Ornament Mysterieux, and Chemin Mysterieux. The necklace is crafted with the motifs from the world of couture that Van Cleef & Arpels has consistently interpreted throughout its history. The tight lines of its bow echo diamond clips from the 1920s, while the diamonds on the ribbon’s border evoke the Art Deco style. A 30.61-carat diamond sparkles at the center of the jewel, its oval shape combining softness and elegance. A pair of Volutes Mystérieuses earrings accompanies the necklace. The ring is distinctive for its slight relief, with the band winding around itself in a striking graphic effect.
One of the key family/line of the collection is the one that includes key pieces such as Chevron Mystérieux and Liseré Mystérieux. The first is an outstanding piece, inspired by 1950s fashion and the crossover collars that were popular on evening gowns at that time. Three majestic pear-cut diamonds of generous size drip from this colorful composition. These incredibly brilliant gems complement each other in size and illuminate the entire composition of sapphires and Mystery Set emeralds, where the green of the emeralds contrasts with the sapphires’ deep blue. The Liseré Mystérieux ring uses the same combination of stones and colors, inspired by the graphic lines of the Maha ring revealed in 2019. While the Collerette Mystérieuse, like a couture-inspired collar, is a graphic necklace that drapes lightly on the neck. Originally used for emeralds, this rectangular cut with beveled sides is characterized by a wide table, offering true immersion in the stone. Inspired by the twill fabrics of the 1950s, Lacis Mystérieux bracelet and ring are embellished with precious pink sapphire ribbons intertwined with rows of buff-topped rubies. These reveal all the purity and brilliance of the material. The virtuoso combination of materials and techniques produces an aesthetic audacity that distinguishes these creations from all others. Two generous Asscher Cut diamonds face each other on the Entrelacs Mystérieux bracelet. They are perfectly paired, with their matching color, purity, and brilliance. Traditional Mystery Set sapphires alternate between convex and concave shapes along the creation.
WHITE DIAMOND VARIATIONS
This second chapter, Legend of diamonds – White diamond variations, demonstrates the permanent place diamonds hold in the Maison’s jewelry design and the way it has been showcased in its collections. Carrying on the Maison great story, the chapter continues to reveal the diamond in all its facets and to celebrate its timeless beauty. One of the main jewels is the Floraison de diamants bracelet, with captivating lines inspired by the bandeaux bracelets designed in the 1920s. This new restyled version is composed of delicate ribbons of diamond-paved gold. Positioned in parallel and slightly overlapping, they offer the piece a graphic, embossed effect, enhanced by round diamonds. Inspired by the long, flowing necklaces of the 1920s, the Roaring Twenties evokes the creativity of the maison during those years, it presents the alternation of rows of round and pear-shaped diamonds on four tiers; it is named after one of New York’s most famous skyscrapers – the Chrysler Building. The whole piece is slightly articulated and entirely openwork, to allow for the play of light on the stones. As part of the collection there is also a pair of earrings inspired by the 1920s Bow brooch that belonged to Elizabeth Taylor, a lifelong lover of jewelry. Reminiscent of the fashion world, specifically of the reticella collars worn by women since the Renaissance, the Vagues étincelantes necklace’s lines also draw their silhouette from the Médicis necklace, created by the Maison in 1937 and shown at the International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques in Paris. On the choker, vertical rows of diamonds follow one another to create a spectacular ensemble. The necklace thus rests gently on the skin like a foam of diamonds. Another significative piece, named after pilot Jacqueline Auriol, and inspired by the Mystère IV necklace that Van Cleef & Arpels made in 1956 for a commission by Marcel Dassault, is the Envol de Diamants necklace, on which the supple white gold design partially drapes three rows of sparkling diamonds, reminiscent of the Angel Hair aesthetic of the 1950s. A final sparkling touch, articulated diamonds seem to gently emerge from this ribbon of light.
The entire Collection includes a total of 82 pieces, that trace the creative history of all the archive,through a majestic dialog between light and colors, where diamonds and Mystery Set unite in elegant associations.