Watches & Jewellery

Van Cleef & Arpels’ New High Jewellery Collection was Written in the Stars

Titled Sous les Étoiles — or Heavenly Dreams in English — the collection takes inspiration from the stars both within our galaxy and beyond.
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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.

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The stars themselves, of course, served as an indispensable guide, as seen in the Cosmic Loop necklace. Inspired by Thor's Helmet — a real-life nebula several thousand light years from our own solar system — this necklace is the culmination of every iota of the maison's jewellery-making expertise.

The necklace isn't just remarkable for its harmonious sapphires — as well as the ensemble of tsavorite garnets, diamonds and coloured sapphires that accompany it — but for the gorgeous fluid lines that grant it the illusion of movement. How that is achieved is thanks to Van Cleef & Arpels' patented Mystery Set technique, which enables the underlying metalwork to 'disappear' in order to fully highlight the precious stones.

It wasn't just hard scientific facts that the maison based their creations on. Its designers also looked to legends and fables for inspiration — as seen in the Trésor astral necklace. Based on Mizar and Alcor — two stars that are visible by the naked eye — the asymmetrical necklace plays on the interconnected nature of the two stars. To represent the celestial couple, two sapphires — one from Sri Lanka that weighs 31.17 ct, and the other, a Burmese sapphire weighing 22.82 ct — were paired together, a serendipitous match that took over a year to come to fruition.

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.

Aside from jewellery pieces, the collection also brings with it several exquisite timepieces. Van Cleef & Arpels' Planétarium watch — first introduced for women in 2018 — makes a stunning return in the Heavenly Dreams collection. It's most incredible feature? The heart of the watch features actual, moving representations of the Sun, Mercury, Venus, the Moon and Earth; all the planets revolve around the sun in real time.

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.

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