Once Upon A Time

brooches van cleef and arpels
(From left to right, top to bottom) Lapins with sapphires emeralds and onyx, Paons 18K yellow gold with sapphires, emeralds, garnets, tourmalines, spinels and turquoise, Ratons Laveurs with garnet and tourmaline, Morpho with sapphires, emeralds, lapis lazuli, turquoise and malachite. All in 18K white gold with diamonds unless stated

The 17th century masterpiece The Entry Of The Animals Into Noah’s Ark by Flemish painter Jan Brueghel the Elder serves as the inspiration for this series of one-of-a-kind pieces. The maison draws on its rich tradition of creating animal motifs that date back to the ’20s, referencing antique wooden toy animals and contemporary works by Italian Pop Art artist Ugo Nespolo in crafting the collection.

The More The Merrier

brooches van cleef and arpels
(From left to right, top to bottom) Girafes 18K pink gold with sapphires and spinels, Singes with sapphires, garnets and spinels, Éléphants with sapphires, lapis lazuli and malachite, Fennecs 18K yellow gold and 18K pink gold with sapphires, garnets, spinels and pearls

A total of 60 different pairs of animal clips were created, with each pair sold as an inseparable set. The different characteristics of each animal are showcased through playful design and precious materials. Take, for instance, the lapis lazuli and malachite elephants, which are carved with Bauhaus-esque curves to mimic children’s wooden toys, and the foxes that are rendered in a ’50s cartoonist style reminiscent of Van Cleef & Arpels’ famous 1954 La Boutique collection of adorable animals.

Something Magical

brooches van cleef and arpels
(From left to right, top to bottom) Biche et Cerf 18K yellow gold with sapphires, garnets, onyx and letterwood, Pégase with sapphires, rubies and coral, Phénix with spinels, mother-of-pearl and rubies, Licorne with emeralds, sapphires and turquoises

Three mythical creatures – the phoenix, unicorn and Pegasus – are included to lend a sense of fantasy to this collection. Their highly textured and opulent designs employ the mystery setting that Van Cleef & Arpels patented in 1933, in which the stones are set without revealing the underlying metal. Another nod to the jeweller’s heritage is the use of wood as a material, which first started at the Maison in the 1910s. Here, it is seen on the bodies of the stag and hind clip.

Romancing The Stone

brooches van cleef and arpels
(From left to right, top to bottom) Toucans 18K yellow gold with sapphires, tourmalines, garnets, spinels and ebony, Perroquets with emeralds, lapis lazuli, turquoise and onyx, Hiboux with onyx, chrysoprase and sugilite, Koalas 18K yellow gold with onyx, emeralds and sapphires

The stones’ high lustre are achieved through hand-polishing with brushes and threads. This mirrored finish is evident in the lapis lazuli and turquoise for the parrots, chrysoprase and sugilite for the owls, and ebony for the toucans. As some parts of these designs were so delicate, it took nearly 120 hours to recut the stones in order to attain the desired shape.


This story first appeared in Female‘s December 2016 issue.

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