Time was for celebration when the French House Van Cleef and Arpels exhibited for the first time at Masterpiece London.
Olivier Dupon author of several books all published by Thames & Hudson, including The New Jewelers (2012) will have his new book on luxury jewelry published in 2016, in the meantime, he attended Masterpiece in London and visited Van Cleef and Arpels who were a major actor of the fair.
A regular exhibitor at Tefaf (Maastricht) and at the Biennale des Antiquaires (Paris), not only VC&A was a prestigious catch for the London fair but an impeccable match.
“At Van Cleef & Arpels we believe it’s very important for us to be able to show High Jewelry and the Maison’s creations in multiple different contexts,” stresses Nicolas Bos, CEO & President and Creative Director of Van Cleef and Arpels. “Among these contexts the Art Fairs that associate the different categories of Antiques, Works of Art and Jewelry are very important for us as they are a way to bring back High Jewelry as part of the world of Decorative Arts and although it is a more commercial presence at a Fair. It is probably really the same mind set as the collaborations we have done with the great decorative arts museums in Paris, Tokyo, New York and one day hopefully in London. It is really important for Van Cleef & Arpels to be seen not only as Jewelers among Jewelers but as creators of Decorative Art together and in conjunction with major Antique Dealers and major Art Galleries.
Bos explains that there are only a few really great Fairs in the world, the historical ones like the Biennale des Antiquaires, Maastricht, and the way Masterpiece has emerged and developed in the last few years, they have seen an extremely high quality Fair in the context of London, a city which is central, international, lively.
The reason that drew us to be there is partly because of the commercial dimension but also the question of image, of the visibility of the Maison and the category of Jewelry.
‘A very versatile piece as you can wear it short or long, with or without the pearls, very representative of the flapper period. It is very rare that such a piece survived in its integrality’, Nicolas explains; a mind blowing 35.35 carats emerald-cut Columbian Emerald ring from 1958 (c) or a unique set of Vermillion earrings with two oval-cut flawless Tanzanian rubies (d).
‘For the novelties we wanted to show signature pieces like the Zip necklace, ballerinas (a) or a mystery set piece and of course the best examples of our High Jewelry creations. For the heritage side, we wanted to show the best examples of the Deco, Retro and 70s periods’, Nicolas adds.
Both the elegant booth in tonal light greys and the jewel selection were chosen to present Van Cleef & Arperls DNA to a public not necessarily familiar with them. ‘We specifically designed and created five extraordinary ballerinas brooches to be unveiled at Masterpiece and for the first time,’ Nicolas adds.
When it comes to the question of Jewelry Masterpiece is a Fair that welcomes some contemporary jewellery brands but also some prominent dealers of antique jewelry pieces so that it covers different aspects of Jewelry in the context of, for us, a very important city, London.
Without a doubt the French jeweler made a show stopping impression by exhibiting both Heritage pieces, representative of the rich history of the house, and new wonders, testimony of their on-going creative genius and exemplary craftsmanship.
Despite the fact that it is quite impossible to single out one piece in particular, they were a few extraordinary examples of what Van Cleef can do: honoring the most beautiful precious gems through great designs. There was a fabulous Art Deco Diamond sautoir with two extraordinary natural pearls (b), whose individual shapes seem to espouse each other.
Interestingly, and thanks to the presentation and co-existence of past and new, one could see how the creative designers have updated some previous ideas into modern renditions. One Heritage necklace and clip/pendant from the 50’s (e), brimming with vivid colors brought by cushion-cut yellow sapphires, cushion-cut and round blue sapphires, round emeralds and diamonds, could almost find a contemporary sibling in the “Acapulco” necklace from the High Jewelry Collection (f).
The same opulence and detachable clip attribute, a signature of the house, this time with a more neutral background of pear-shaped, round, baguette-, marquise- and square-cut diamonds, punctuated by luminous Zambian pear-shaped emeralds, oval-cut violet sapphires and more. I asked for the necklace to be tried on, and the model could hardly contain her wonderment. Such is the transformative power of a Van Cleef & Arpels piece.