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Van Cleef & Arpels & its beautiful secrets

November 15 2017

[Click on the image to see the gallery]

Last July the jeweler unveiled a collection that will remain in the annals of the house. baptized The secret, This sequel to 110 Jewelry is an ode to metamorphosis, double reading, mysterious mechanisms, subtle surprises and hidden messages. - Isabelle Cerboneschi


Beyond its investment value, a jewel is a talisman. Whether it has been offered or transmitted, it is imbued with intentions, feelings, love coming first on the list.

Some jewels hide in them hidden messages: a simple alliance engraved with a mysterious word written backwards and to read with a mirror, the precious small box of mother-of-pearl that Line Vautrin had engraved in 1950 the rebus: T game magnet 6 spears (I love you in silence), or the three acrostic bracelets that Napoleon 1er had ordered from Chaumet for Empress Marie Louise. In the tradition of these jewelry messages in vogue in the early nineteenth century, each stone symbolized a letter of the alphabet (the first of its name). But still it was necessary to know the right name of the gems to understand the message. As for the poison rings of the Middle Ages, it is a bad example of double-reading jewels: hardly had we discovered their dark secret that we had already passed ad patres.

These very discreet jewels jealously guard their mysteries out of sight. Only the one who wears it knows its existence. Whatever the time, the secrets that we want to hide from the eyes of others are the same: a love, a religion, a political affiliation, of course controversial.

None of this in Van Cleef & Arpels' The Secret collection. It took five years for the Paris jeweler to launch this suite, which will ultimately include 110 coins. Discovering the few 65 first jewels exhibited at the even established in one of the halls of the school of jewelry that Van Cleef opened in Paris five years ago, we understand why. Each piece is a challenge, a challenge to technique or inventiveness. Secret mechanisms once actuated put in motion rings or pins, transforming a swan into a princess in favor of a sudden turnaround.

At the head of Van Cleef & Arpels since January 2013, Nicolas Bos possesses this capacity to believe in the craziest creativity and in the magic of objects, whether they are animated or not. Last January, he unveiled the automaton Fairy Ondine, designed with the automatier François Junod, on the occasion of the International Exhibition of Haute Horlogerie of Geneva (SIHH). This relationship that humans have with enchantment, wonder, childhood, goes beyond cultures, nationalities, regions, he confided then. In a world where everything is more and more organized, fast, rational, structured, you want to see objects that respond to other rhythms, which are poetic, that make you dream. Our creations fulfill this role. For two years, we live in an environment, especially in the watchmaking world, where bad news and pessimism follow each other. It's getting boring: we can not reduce our activities, our businesses and our creations to a discussion about the future of distribution, the quality of production, the ambient difficulties! The business exists: there are difficulties and answers to make. But our job is above all to create pieces that are there to amaze and surprise.

Six months later, in front of the collection The SecretI understood the true meaning of his words and what he meant by the term wonder. Each piece of the collection is delicacy and infinite poetry. Two butterflies set with diamonds, onyx, black spinel and emeralds join around an emerald 14,57 carats to hide the passage of time, camouflaging the dial of a secret watch. Butterflies are hidden under the tassels of pearls and turquoise of a pair of earrings. They appear surreptitiously according to the movements of the wearer.

Necklace Bird on the branch, which can be worn in five different ways, features a suite of 28 Burmese rubies totaling 567,17 carats. And what about the necklace Pegase with sapphire from Sri Lanka, 45,10 carats. The necklace takes its name from the white gold winged horse that hides in the shelter of the central tassel. The petals of the clip The Marguerite of love do not flake, but turn to reveal a message: tenderly, eternally, passionately, ... Words that rhyme with wonder.

Metamorphosis of the Swan (click to read)

Clip, colored sapphires, spessartite garnets, black spinels, onyx, diamonds. From a pivot, the ballerina turns into a swan.

Secret lace (click to read)

Ruby bracelet, onyx, white mother-of-pearl, diamonds. A small mechanism allows to change the color at will.

Butterfly petals (click to read)

Transformable clip, yellow and purple sapphires, emeralds, spessartite garnets and tsavorites, onyx, sugilite, diamonds. Hidden under one of the petals, a butterfly takes flight and detaches from the flower to become a clip.

Under his wing (click to read)

Mysterious set traditional ruby, pink and yellow sapphires, spessartite garnets, black spinels, coral, onyx, gray mother-of-pearl, diamonds. This parrot holds a secret: his baby is hidden under his wing. The latter appears and disappears thanks to a mechanism.

Secret Butterfly (click to read)

Emerald cut emerald watch from 14,57 carats (Colombia), emeralds, black spinels, onyx, white mother-of-pearl, diamonds, mechanical movement with manual winding. The wings of the butterfly open, revealing the watch.

Bird on the branch (click to read)

Convertible long necklace, 240 ruby ​​balls (Burma) for a total of 567,14 carats, emeralds, rubies, blue and pink sapphires, onyx, white cultured pearls, diamonds, length 46 cm. The casket of the jumper rotates and reveals a ruby ​​nightingale resting on a carved emerald branch.





Main photos and videos: © Sonia Sieff