After a delay of five months due to the ongoing crisis, the latest exhibition from Van Cleef & Arpels in partnership with the Museum of Natural History in Paris, titled “Pierres Précieuses” or “Precious Stones”, is finally set to open this September in the French capital. Spotlighting the intersection between earth science, mineralogy and bijoux (mother nature has long held a fascination for Van Cleef & Arpels), the showcase will display over 300 treasures from the luxury house’s extensive archive, a number of which also serve as the afflatus behind the Maison’s brand new haute joaillerie series, simply dubbed “Homage to High Jewellery in Place Vendôme”.
The small but significant collection harks back several decades in Van Cleef & Arpels’ illustrious history, breathing fresh life into a trio of prized heritage pieces once owned by three very influential (and very stylish) women. To wit, Marlene Dietrich’s ruby Jarretière cuff bracelet, immortalised on screen in Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright; Princess Faiza of Egypt’s extravagant emerald and platinum collaret; and the floral diamond and ruby cabochon earrings bestowed upon Jacqueline Kennedy by shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis on the occasion of their wedding in 1968.
The former First Lady of the United States much cherished this glittering gift from her second husband (curiously, her engagement ring from John F. Kennedy was also a Van Cleef & Arpels creation), donning the jewels multiple times throughout the rest of her life — the pair was eventually auctioned off for approximately SGD 421,500 in 2015.
Now, the Maison reinterprets the efflorescent design for a 21st-century audience with the Tendresse Étincelante earrings, which aptly translates as “Sparkling Tenderness”. Rendered in white gold and gemstones, blossoming corollas unfurl gently around pear-shaped diamonds, each sculptural petal traced with delicate veins in relief and enriched by brilliant-cut diamonds. These exquisite flowers are adorned with detachable teardrop pendants comprising two magnificent DFL Type IIa diamonds, cut from the same rough, that weigh in at 20.21 carats.
Attesting to Van Cleef & Arpels’ singular savoir-faire, the Tendresse Étincelante is as elegant and captivating as the woman who inspired it.