Van Cleef and Arpels

Unique French Jewelry, Watches And Perfumes

The History of Van Cleef and Arpels: Unique French Jewelry & Watches

The History of Van Cleef and Arpels: Unique French Jewelry logo
Some know it as one of the finest Parisian jewelry brands and others refer to it as a feminine, glamorous and refined brand that has a style distinct from all other French brands. Van Cleef & Arpels brings the very best of French craftsmanship and wonder to the measurement of time.
Whether it is jewels that are sculpted to watches or complicated watches that are transformed to jewels, the brand’s heritage combines the very best in the creation of fabulous jewels. 

The Visionary Named Alfred Van Cleef & His Marriage To Estelle Arpels

The History of Van Cleef and Arpels: Unique French Jewelry marriage

The story of Van Cleef & Arpels unfolded when Alfred Van Cleef married Estelle Arpels. The company was originally founded in 1906, when Alfred partnered with Estelle’s stepfather, Salomon Arpels. 
The future of the company looked bright. In 1926, Alfred assumed the company’s artistic direction and worked closely with Renee Puissant (his daughter) as well as the craftsman Rene Sim Lacaze for the next twenty years. Even greater success came when the company opened boutiques in Japan and China becoming the first French jewelers to expand to Asia.
The History of Van Cleef and Arpels: Unique French Jewelry mystery setting
In 1933, the brand received a French Patent for a gem setting style that is known as ‘Serti Mysterieux’ which means ‘Mystery Setting’.  It is a technique that employs a setting where the prongs are invisible. This way, each one of the stones is put onto gold rails which are less than two-tenths of a millimeter thick. The technique requires 300 hours of work per piece or even more with only a few such gems produced each year. In 2009, a custom jewelry piece by Van Cleef & Arpels from 1936 was sold for $326,500 during an auction in New York.

The Family Gathering At Van Cleef & Arpels And How Each Member Contributed To Success

The History of Van Cleef and Arpels: Unique French Jewelry first store

After the passing of Salomon Alpes, his son Charles and son-in-law Alfred Van Cleef founded the brand Maison of Van Cleef & Arpels and launched a boutique in Paris’ Place Vendome. They were among the first jewelers who settled in the highly coveted locale at the time and had an exceptional location directly across from the Hotel Ritz. 
The strategic position of the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique made it a magnet for European aristocrats and important businessmen. The well-heeled clients from all around the world loved the brand and the location transformed VanCleef & Arples into a symbol of elegance and Parisian luxury.
The two other brothers, Julien and Louis, later joined Van Cleef & Arpels and started contributing to the family business. The name quickly became synonymous with the world’s most exquisite jewelry. After Paris, the brand launched boutiques in holiday resorts such as Monte Carlo, Nice, Vichy, Deauville and other cities. Even the daughter joined the business and became the Creative Director of Van Cleef & Arpels.
The History of Van Cleef and Arpels: Unique French Jewelry Art Deco

The Van Cleef & Arpels Collection: Summing Up The Most Iconic Pieces

Some of the first standalone pieces by Van Cleef & Arpels included a bracelet with red and white roses fashioned from rubies and diamonds, as well as other diamond pieces that captured the company’s creative boldness and showcased its playful and lively design.
The History of Van Cleef and Arpels: Unique French Jewelry elephant charm
During World War II, the board of members relocated to New York and opened their first store, selling gold, precious and semi-precious stones as well as other materials. Van Cleef & Arpels even designed playful and whimsical cartoon-style animal clips which sold very well because of their affordable prices and great quality. Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy Onassis collected and wore them on several occasions.
Even Princess Grace couldn’t resist the jewelry and designated Van Cleef & Arpels as the Official Supplier to the Principality of Monaco. Later, she wore a tiara, set with round, marquise and pear-shaped diamonds containing an astonishing 77.34 carats.
The History of Van Cleef and Arpels: Unique French Jewelry Alhambra

The Van Cleef & Arpels Boutiques

The History of Van Cleef and Arpels: Unique French Jewelry Paris store

With stores in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Europe, Van Cleef & Arpels continues as a jewelry favorite and has many prestigious standalone boutiques.  These can be found in Geneva, Zurich, London, Milan, Munich, Shanghai and Paris as well as its original flagship store at Place Vendome.
In the United States, the company operates in New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas, Houston and Beverly Hills. Among the maintained stores, there are the store in Naples, the one on Palm Beach and one in Aspen. The brand also expanded to Australia in 2016 and opened a boutique in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as Canada.

110 Years Later - A Long-Lasting Legacy

The History of Van Cleef and Arpels: Unique French Jewelry

In 2010/11, the company’s estimated sales came close to 500 million Euros including 45 million Euros in watches alone. What’s certain is that for over a century, the brand has provided legendary clients with some of the most unique pieces.
The History of Van Cleef and Arpels: Unique French Jewelry
Currently, Van Cleef & Arpels is a brand with vast tradition. A hundred and ten years after their first boutique launched, they hold a legacy as one of the finest jewelry houses in the world. The line of products has expanded over the years and in addition to exquisite jewelry, one can find watches and perfume too.

Photography Credit: Sothebys 

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