As with most high jewellery lines, Van Cleef & Arpels' latest collection is an exercise in finesse, a display of the house's savoir faire, and the stunning, rare gemstones that it has discovered. But the new Sous les Étoiles goes a step beyond the material and tangible, with designs that invoke the infinite wonders and mystery of the cosmos.
For the collection's 150 new creations, the house's designers looked to many places for inspiration. Pop culture was one: The aptly-named Stanley bracelets were named for movie director Stanley Kubrick's seminal 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and bears the same graphic motif as its iconic poster does.
These two mythological stars appear in cultures throughout time: Persian children purportedly used the constellation to test their eyesight — in Indian astronomy, the two stars are believed to be symbols of marriage and closeness.
The visual spectacle isn't just limited to the watch face. A gradiation of blue sapphires and black spinels fans out from the watch face — and, punctuated with diamonds, spessartite garnets and coloured sapphires — create the illusion that one is looking at an entire solar system in itself. It's a piece best seen in person to fully appreciate the 1,370 hours of work that goes into making each watch.
High jewellery collections are almost always works of art, what with the astronomical carat counts and stunning technical work on display. But Van Cleef & Arpels' Sous les Étoiles — with its earnest, genuine wonder for the cosmos — cements itself firmly as a future classic.