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I was in Paris last week and went to the Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition “Art of Fine Jewelry,” at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs.  Since there was a healthy crowd, I will have to go back.  It was really difficult see and absorb the beauty of the 450 pieces that are on display. Next time I will go early in the day.turquoise necklace


Apparently the exhibit has been in other cities than Paris.  The Parisian version had been designed to look at the chronology of the Van Cleef & Arpels history.

This story started in the 1920s with a wedding between the Van Cleefs of Amsterdam and the Arpels family from Ghent, Belgium.  Mr. Van Cleef had been making fine jewely since 1909.  Van Cleef & Arpels has long been known as one of the most innovative and well-established jewelers in the world. Members of the Royal family such as the Prince of Wales and iconic beauties including Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly bought some of their finest pieces from them.  More recently,  Charlène of Monaco wore a spectacular necklace made of diamonds and sapphires for her wedding to Prince Albert of Monaco in the summer of 2011. The necklace is on display.

Charlene's Ocean necklace

The amazing crown and necklace made for the Empress Farah Pahlavi for her coronation in Teheran, Iran was also on display.  The jewels are so large that they don’t look real. The crown was adorned with 1541 stones in total, including 1469 diamonds, 36 emeralds, 34 rubies, 2 spinels, 105 pearls among other stones, but most importantly, a spectacular 150-carat emerald set at the center. It weighed 4.3 pounds.Empress Farah's crown

There are other smaller crowns, necklaces and broaches worn by royalty and movie stars.  The diamond and emerald necklace that Richard Burton gave to Liz Taylor is on display.Liz Taylor

high jewelery necklaceThis unique necklace from the new High Jewelry collection Pala is de la chance in white gold, red gold and yellow gold, is adorned by diamonds, Mystery Set™rubies, yellow diamonds, Mandarin garnets and one detachable 14.36-carat, type 2A pear-shaped D FI diamond.

Chrysanthimum pinChrysanthemum clipChrysanthemum clip, 1937, Van Cleef & Arpels’ Collection: platinum, yellow gold, Mystery-Set™ rubies

purseThe company has come up with some innovations that made huge jumps in jewelry making.  In the 1930’s a small had case evening purse was developed called the MinaudiereTM. .  But the Mystery Setting TM was a technical change that allowed the company to set stones in a way that the setting is invisible.close up back of mystery setting

flower with mystery setMystery Set Peony clip 
Gold, platinum, rubies, diamonds, 239 diamonds for 29, 72 carats, 706 rubies for 71 carats.

close look at the Mystery Setting


I am only touching on a few of the marvelous items in this show.  But my last favorite item is the zip necklace.  It is possible to zip zip necklaceup the necklace and it becomes a bracelet.  I don’t know how, but it can also be a belt.  I must say that the men and women who worked and who are at Van Cleef and Arpels are exceptional.