Van Cleef & Arpels

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Minaudière (1930)

Van Cleef & Arpels is a French jewelry, watch, and perfume company.[1] It was founded in 1896 by Alfred Van Cleef and his uncle Salomon Arpels. Their pieces often feature flowers, animals, and fairies, and have been worn by style icons such as the Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly, and Elizabeth Taylor.[2]


Alfred Van Cleef and his father-in-law, Salomon Arpels, founded the company in 1896. In 1906, following Arpels’s death, Alfred and two of his brothers-in-law, Salomon and Julien, acquired a space for Van Cleef & Arpels at 22 Place Vendôme, across from the Hôtel Ritz, where Van Cleef & Arpels opened its first boutique shop. The third Arpels brother, Louis, soon joined the company.

Van Cleef & Arpels opened boutiques in holiday resorts such as Deauville, Vichy, Le Touquet, Nice, and Monte-Carlo. In 1925, a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet with red and white roses fashioned from rubies and diamonds won the grand prize at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts.[3]

Alfred and Esther’s daughter, Renée (born Rachel) Puissant, took over the company’s artistic direction in 1926. Puissant worked closely with draftsman René Sim Lacaze for the next twenty years.[3] Van Cleef & Arpels were the first French jewelers to open boutiques in Japan and China. The firm was acquired by the Compagnie Financière Richemont S.A. in 1999.


Van Cleef & Arpels has stores in the Middle East and South East Asia, with their products offered in standalone boutiques, boutiques within major department stores, and in independent stores. Standalone boutiques are located in Geneva, Milan, Shanghai, and Paris, where the company has multiple locations, including its flagship store at Place Vendôme.

In the United States, standalone boutiques are located in New York City, Beverly Hills, and Chicago. Stores are also located in Naples, Palm Beach, and a seasonal location in Aspen. The Chicago boutique was expanded and relocated to the Drake Hotel in November 2011 while the New York City flagship store was redesigned in 2013.

The Mystery Setting[edit]

On December 2, 1933, Van Cleef and Arpels was granted a patent (French Patent No. 764,966) for a proprietary gem setting style they call Serti Mysterieux, or "Mystery Setting", a technique which uses a setting where the prongs are invisible.[4] Each stone is faceted onto gold rails less than two-tenths of a millimeter thick. The technique requires at 300 hours of work per piece, and only a few are produced each year.[5]

Another company received the original patent for the technique – Chaumet, in 1904. Chaumet didn't make many invisible-set items.[5]


In 2010/2011, the company's estimated sales were €450 million in total sales and €45 million in watches.[1]

A 1936 Van Cleef & Arpels custom jewelry piece with a “Mystery Setting” sold for $326,500 at a Christie's New York auction in 2009.[6]


  1. ^ a b Chevalier, Michel (2012). Luxury Brand Management. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-17176-9. 
  2. ^ "Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels". New York: Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Amy Serafin, "The Family, The Jewels, The Legend", France Magazine, Fall 2012.
  4. ^ Van Cleef & Arpels. "The Mystery Setting". Retrieved April 18, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Revy, Stephanie. "The Mystery Revealed – The Invisibly Set Gemstones of Van Cleef and Arpels". Retrieved April 18, 2014. 
  6. ^ Hyperinflation Worries? Buy My Jewelry, Richemont’s Rupert Says. (September 13, 2009). Retrieved on October 10, 2012.

External links[edit]