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Cartier, the jeweler of kings

- signed jewelry -

Van Cleef & Arpels, the technical expertise

realized by Kyra Brenzinger

PAmid the biggest jewelry houses, Van Cleef & Arpels is undoubtedly the most inventive brand. His many creations have advanced jewelry know-how and his collections are still very topical.

The mysterious setting: an emblematic creation

The history of the house begins with a love story bringing together two families from Holland thanks to the marriage in 1895 of Alfred Van Cleef and Esther Arpels. In 1906, Esther's brother, Salomon dit Charles Arpels founded with Alfred Van Cleef the company Van Cleef & Arpels and set up their first boutique at 22, place Vendôme in Paris. The period was prosperous with in particular the Universal Exhibition of 1900 and the emergence of a bourgeois society. The many orders allowed Van Cleef & Arpels to open several shops in holiday resorts such as Deauville or on the Côte d'Azur. Their daughter, Renée Puissant took over the artistic direction of the house in 1926 and showed great creativity and daring. She collaborated with the designer René-Sim Lacaze and they created a real brand identity thanks to the technical innovation of the Mystery Setting in 1933. A real patented technical revolution, the stones (rubies, sapphires and diamonds) are set on a rail allowing them to be positioned edge to edge without claws. The first pieces were unveiled in 1937 in Paris, during the International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques in Modern Life, such as the Peony, Chrysanthemum or Rose brooches. Some pieces are currently to be discovered in the exhibition on Precious Stones at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

The 50s: from zip necklace to end-to-end

Based on an idea from the Duchess of Windsor, married to Edward VIII, Renée Puissant designed in 1938 the first zipper in gold and set with diamonds. Called the Zip necklace, it was not until 1951 to see the first piece come out of the workshops, as this model was a technical challenge. The world of couture is a source of inspiration for the house, which in the 50s created collections with twisted gold threads or worked in terrycloth or positioned in chevrons. The Twill set ending on pompoms or filigree gold bracelets are very characteristic of the 50s, often offering a contrast between yellow gold and diamonds.

The animal and humorous brooches of the 60s

Currently staged in its Galerie du Patrimoine at 20, place Vendôme in Paris, animal and humorous brooches are particularly sought after in auction houses. The emblematic pieces are the Ruffled Lion with his battle mane, but also the Rabbit clip with its little diamond tail and its coral carrot or the Normandy Duck clip wearing a hat and a fishing rod. Personalities like Grace of Monaco have worn these charming brooches bringing a touch of eccentricity to her outfits. In addition to the animal theme, recurring characters have emerged such as the Scarecrow, the Harlequin or the Pirate, very popular with American customers.

A story of feelings: Trinity

  • This model saw the light of day in 1968 and created a real revolution in the history of jewelry with an iconic collection famous throughout the world and particularly envied. It is true that this success is global and that many brands have tried to be inspired by this form of 4 leaf clover so recognizable. The first creation in 1968 consisted of a long necklace entirely in yellow gold. But the Alhambra quickly saw many variations, notably with hard stones such as malachite, carnelian, lapis lazuli or mother-of-pearl. In the 70s, personalities like Romy Schneider and Françoise Hardy appear with this long necklace bringing a breath of freedom. The model is then available as a bracelet, earrings, ring and watch. And since the 2000s, collections have multiplied such as the Magic Alhambra, Lucky Alhambra or Byzantine Alhambra.

Creations iconic today

The particularly sleek and modern Love bracelet is nevertheless a creation that dates back to 1969. Designer Aldo Cipullo imagines this bracelet in the Cartier workshop in New York. The bracelet is engraved with screw patterns and it closes with a real gold screw, accompanied by a mini screwdriver. These "modern handcuffs of love" are a symbolic link between two beings. A true creative genius, Aldo Cipullo also imagined in 1971, the Clou bracelet from the Nail collection which also includes rings, earrings and necklaces. Today, renamed Juste un clou, the design is perfectly stylized wrapping the wrist and giving a glam-rock aspect to this collection. These two creations, Love and Juste un Clou, are perfectly unisex and symbolize love in a universal way.

A precious tribute to nature

After its many animal interpretations, the Cartier house is also interested in the plant kingdom. The orchid, which came from Asia in the 30th century, fascinates Cartier, who already interpreted it in the 2005s in the form of a brooch. But it was in 2016 that the jeweler dedicated his Caresse d'Orchidée Haute Joaillerie collection to this mysterious flower. Its shimmering colors are reinterpreted with amethysts and rubies that can be seen appearing through a lace of diamonds creating cascading earrings of flowers.In XNUMX, the Cartier house launched against the current trends its Cactus line which does not lack spice. These ephemeral flowers are adorned with luminous chrysoprases, emeralds and carnelians and metamorphose into golden ball rings protecting the fingers. Bracelets or necklaces bloom small white diamond flowers appearing as in the morning dew. A vibrant tribute to nature and symbolizing the preciousness of life!