In 1896, Estelle Arpels, daughter of a precious stone dealer, married Alfred Van Cleef, son of a stone-cutter. The enthusiasm of youth, a passion for jewellery, a pioneering spirit and constant family support urged the young couple to become partners with Estelle’s brothers.
Respectively Charles in 1906 followed by Julien Arpels in 1908, and finally by Louis in 1912. In 1906, they registered the’Van Cleef & Arpels’ name and set up their business at 22, place Vendome. A Maison was born.
The three main themes of Van Cleef & Arpels have been ever represented in both their High Jewellery and Creative Jewellery collections. That is to say: Nature with leaves, flowers, birds and insects; Couture with net, bows and lace; and the world of the Imagination with fairies, stories and myths. These are all motifs that express life and movement. For Van Cleef & Arpels the flower is not immobile, it opens, the butterfly does not stay still, it flies away. The result is a specific Van Cleef & Arpels aesthetic: asymmetry. Asymmetry is the mark of the living. And, paradoxically, of harmony.
Spirit and elegance: equally fascinating, equally difficult to define. The spirit of the Maison of Van Cleef & Arpels, a subtle combination of values and styles, was born with the love story of Alfred Van Cleef and Estelle Arpels and enriched over the years by fraternity, fidelity, femininity, refinement and a daring kind of elegance, all expressing a unique philosophy : time is renewal.
On the other hand, time at Van Cleef & Arpels is also precious and measured. The Maison’s extraordinary watches are the very incarnation of time which is, above all, poetry. For Van Cleef & Arpels, roses have no thorns, wild animals no claws.
Their world is populated by fairies – the Ondine, Libellule and Caresse d’Eole fairies – who help us to make wishes and, of course, to grant them.
Nature captured in all its vitality, the poetry of couture, the magic of fairies and ballerinas, all have inspired astonishing pieces of jewellery that demonstrate the Maison’s technical mastery, legendary craftsmanship, and taste for innovation and transformations. Today as always, Van Cleef & Arpels’ creations adorn celebrities and beautiful women the world over, proving that one only needs to listen to one’s time to be part of it, and that one can live a century and still be in tune with today.
Van Cleef & Arpels
9 New Bond Street, London, W1
020 7493 0400