skyline bathed in light, waves lapping against sandy shores, sails billowing in the gentle breeze... The sensations of summer pervade Van Cleef & Arpels’ new Lucky Summer collection. With their promise of escape, sunny days have inspired the Maison to imagine six creations, each featuring a motif instilled with happy memories. A necklace, a bracelet, a pair of earrings, and three clips set the scene for the joyful reverie that accompanies the summer months, filled with magical, sun-drenched seaside breaks set to the sound of the ocean. Through the lens of summer, waves, a starfish and a seashell are brought to life by the radiance of precious and ornamental stones carefully selected and crafted by Van Cleef & Arpels’ artisans. In a sparkling harmony, yellow gold meets the brilliance of diamonds and outlines the vibrant shades of lapis lazuli and white mother-of-pearl, forming elegant compositions in holiday-inspired hues.
Waves traced in undulating lines unfurl on a jewelry set consisting of a necklace, a bracelet, and a pair of earrings. Echoing the ocean spray, a symphony of motifs alternates different sizes and plays with asymmetry to give the designs a sense of graceful movement that produces a radiant effect when worn. Around the neck and the wrist, the waves form a glittering set interspersed by the gleam of creased yellow gold. The stones, accentuated by a beaded contour, poetically depict the gradient hues of the surf. The deep blue of lapis lazuli evokes the mysterious ocean depths, while chalcedony and turquoise summon up peaceful shores. Lastly, the iridescence of mother-of-pearl and the fire of diamonds conjure up the sight of sunlight skimming across the sea.
On the clips, boat, seashell and starfish motifs form a seascape imbued with vitality, like a postcard from a dreamlike summer. Rose gold softly highlights the radiance of the Starfish clip while yellow gold showcases its most beautiful finery: textured on the Seashell clip and mirror-polished on the Boat clip. The precious metal adorns all the pieces with a beaded contour, like a halo of sunlight. An iconic signature of the Maison, the gold beads are soft and shimmering to enhance the radiance of each design.
The Starfish clip, meanwhile, showcases a variety of red jasper that has hitherto never been used on a Van Cleef & Arpels creation. This ornamental stone, with its beautiful terracotta shade occasionally shot through with subtle veins, was chosen for its opacity and vitality. The Maison’s beloved mother-of-pearl is selected by expert gemologists, who ensure it is of the highest quality: an even sheen with no overtones for white mother-of-pearl, or with slight overtones for gray mother-of-pearl. This gives the marquetry work on the Seashell clip an elegant, iridescent harmony.
The Maison designed the Lucky Summer Wave necklace to gently hug the skin by using joints to connect the motifs to one another. This extremely supple piece is finished with a box clasp, which is traditionally used in High Jewelry creations to ensure the continuity of motifs while securing the piece when worn.
The Maison’s penchant for seaside landscapes dates back to its beginnings. Shortly after it was founded, seaside resorts exploded in popularity, and many vacation spots emerged thanks to the expansion of the railways. In response to this new way of life, Van Cleef & Arpels opened boutiques in Dinard and Deauville, followed by locations on the French Riviera in Nice, Cannes and Monte Carlo – destinations popular with the elite, who wanted to escape the city and enjoy some fresh air. The Maison most likely drew inspiration from this scenery to design creations presenting snapshots of the coast. A seagull in midflight comes to life on a brooch from 1926, revealing a silhouette paved with diamonds. Medals from the 1950s and the 1960s also feature carefree scenes such as sailboats out at sea or cocktails under a parasol, like memories meant to be worn close to the heart.
The marine theme is ingrained in the Maison’s heritage and has inspired one of its most remarkable creations. The Varuna, created around 1906, depicts a boat sailing on stormy seas with waves delicately carved into a block of jasper. The gold and enamel ship is a reproduction of the Varuna of New York, a schooner owned by sailor and prominent New York high society figure Eugene Higgins, who commissioned the precious object.
In the 1920s, the ocean’s depths and the wealth of fauna living there were expressed through the creation of charms, clips and pendants. Ranging from stylized to figurative, fishes, shells, and even seahorses were adorned with glittering gemstones to reflect the beauty and diversity of nature. This inspiration subsequently led to larger objects, like the 1957 Seashell powder case in yellow gold adorned with an emerald.
In High Jewelry, the sea and its wonders inspire Van Cleef & Arpels to create designs that are midway between dreams and exploration. In the 2000s, the Maison dove down to the ocean depths to majestically depict the swell of the sea in a harmony of precious stones. Narrating fantastic maritime adventures, the Maison has imagined designs recreating underwater scenes and aquatic creatures in its L’Atlantide (2007) and Seven Seas (2015) themed collections. And in 2022, mesmerized by the Mediterranean landscapes, Van Cleef & Arpels created a collection filled with the colors of the sun and sea: Perles d’été. Its twelve unique pieces, embodying audacity and elegance, present a radiant interpretation of the horizon.