Product range: Van Cleef & Arpels are partial to fairy tale motifs. Their haute joallerie collections are replete with the imagery of flowers, exotic birds, butterflies, ballerinas, and dreamy castles all besprent with gemstones. Apart from high jewellery, the label also markets more affordable and wearable pieces that play with the same themes but in a somewhat less sophisticated way. The most iconic of all Van Cleef & Arpels pieces are four-leaf clover earrings and pendants. The Alhambra collection was introduced in 1968 and since then has served as the brand's emblem.
Originality: Signature pieces by Van Cleef & Arpels include the innovative Zip necklace with the Duchess of Windsor at its origin, and the transformable Passe-Partout collier that changes into a bracelet, a brooch, or a belt. Both pieces have been continuously reissued by the Maison to this day.
Relevance: Van Cleef & Arpels make art, not fashion. This jewellery is essentially meant for court balls. More affordable collections are exemplary as classic jewellery wearables that are contemporary-looking and feminine and do not convey too strong a message the way statement jewellery pieces do. Pieces by Van Cleef & Arpels are luxury goods that will not lose their worth anytime soon but on the contrary will gain in value in time. They are well-recognized and make a definite statement about how affluent the wearer is.
Pricing policy: exorbitantly expensive. Jewellery pieces that cost less than $5,000 never make it to the brand's collections.
Corporate history highlights: The company was founded in 1906 by the couple of Alfred Van Cleef and Estelle Arpels, both born to families involved in precious stones business. They were assisted by Estelle's enterprising brothers Charles, Julien, and Louis, which made the company a genuine family business. By 1935, Van Cleef & Arpels had already cemented their reputation as the jewellery house of choice within high society circles. One of the innovations introduced by the company was the so called 'invisible setting' patented in 1933. This 'mystère' technique made it possible to achieve the trompe l'oeil effect of an unbroken 'field' of gemstones.