Before you dive into these colourless creations, I advise you to read about the first chapter in the new Van Cleef & Arpels Legend of Diamonds High Jewellery Collection, especially if you are a fan of the brand’s iconic Mystery Set technique.
This second chapter, simply called White Diamond Variations, takes the Legend of Diamonds story right back to the beginning and the foundations of the Van Cleef & Arpels legacy. In 1906, the brand sold its first design – a heart pendant set with brilliant-cut white diamonds. As you will see below, it has become far more ambitious since then! Legend of Diamonds Chapter II contains 82 pieces that trace the history of the Maison and explore some of its iconic eras, such as the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s. However, some go further back.
The oldest period that Chapter II alludes to is the Renaissance. Van Cleef & Arpels references this significant moment in history in the Vagues Etincelantes necklace in white gold with diamonds that cascade to form a 15th-century Reticella-inspired collar. A true technical feat, the concave three-dimensional structure of this piece required the Maison’s craftsmen to make discrete articulations to ensure a curved and flexible form. In a playful twist, briolette diamonds are suspended like small sparkling droplets at the end of each golden line.
The most represented time in Chapter Two is the ‘Roaring Twenties’. The piece that best represents the vivacious energy and creativity behind this period is the Roaring Twenties Transformable Long necklace in white and rose gold, set with a D-colour, internally flawless type IIa rose-cut pear-shaped diamond of 10.32 carats and a rose-cut oval-shaped diamond of 4.46 carats. The delicate rose gold and diamond fringe tassels hanging at the end of the piece evoke the Art Deco flapper dress style from this epoque. In keeping with the Maison’s signature design element of transformability, this piece can be worn eight different ways: three short necklaces, three different long necklaces, and two bracelets. It is accompanied by the Chrysler earrings in white gold and diamonds that highlight the geometric stylings of the era.
You may know, however, that Art Deco did not formally arrive until 1925, so what was Van Cleef producing before this date? In Legend of Diamonds, the earliest part of the 1920s is exemplified by the Diamond Chandelier earrings (transformable into a clip) set with two round diamonds of 1.88 carats each and the Dear Liz earrings with four pear-shaped diamonds of 2.36, 2.24, 2.03 and 2.03 carats. The former includes round, baguette, calibrated, marquise and pear-cut diamonds in closed, half-closed, prong, grain and cornered settings… one might say Van Cleef & Arpels is showing off!
Next come the 1930s, a time when Van Cleef & Arpels designed one of its most famous pieces to date: the Haricot Clip. It is reimagined here in two-tone white and rose gold and set with round brilliant-cut diamonds that graduate in size. Also from the era is the Boogie-Woogie bracelet that refreshes an archival design and the Spontini ring in a knot shape, set with a 3.04 carat pear-shaped diamond.
Another clip of great importance to this Chapter is the Fée Naïca. The fairy emblem first made its debut in Van Cleef & Arpels collection in the 1940s and has remained a key figure in the Maison’s designs since then. Named after the Naica Mine in Mexico, the yellow gold crystal shapes in this piece are inspired by the mine’s giant selenite crystals, while the round brilliant-cut diamonds are scattered like gypsum scattered on the mine floor. This clip was built using the lost wax casting technique, where a wax model is carved by hand over six to eight weeks to ensure that even the smallest of detail is represented.
Finally, the Maison turns to the 1950s and the age of Hollywood glamour. The openwork Fabulous Fifties necklace centres on an emerald-cut diamond of 10.06 carats surrounded by round, square, calibrated and baguette-cut diamonds set using the rail, closed, half-closed, and grain setting techniques. This is accompanied by the Chemin de Diamants ring in white gold with a 1.21 carat centre stone.
Last but most certainly not least, the Envol de Diamant necklace celebrates Van Cleef & Arpels’ connection to a key historical moment. This piece is inspired by the Mystère IV necklace that the Maison made in 1956 for pilot Jacqueline Auriol in honour of her becoming the first European woman to break the sound barrier. According to Van Cleef & Arpels: “The supple white gold design partially drapes three rows of sparkling diamonds, reminiscent of the Angel Hair aesthetic of the 1950s. A final sparkling touch, articulated diamonds seem to gently emerge from this ribbon of light.”
From designs bursting with colour to pure white sparkle, the Legend of Diamonds High Jewellery collection is a testament to the role Van Cleef & Arpels has played in high jewellery history. Whether you are inspired by the past or tempted by modernity, this collection has something for everyone.