Tag Archives: Van Cleef & Arpels

The Story of Van Cleef & Arpels Through the 20th Century

The poetry and elegance of Van Cleef & Arpels’ creations will be on display at Beijing’s Today Art Museum from Apr 21 to Aug 5, 2018.

Van Cleef & Arpels’ exhibition — ‘When Elegance Meets Art’ — at Beijing’s Today Art Museum celebrates the brand’s heritage and the role of jewellery in women through pivotal moments in the early 20th century.

First presented in 2012 at Paris’ musée des Arts Décoratifs, including a collaboration in 2016 with Singapore’s ArtScience Museum, this exhibition has traveled to China for for the first time. The maison is partnering with China’s first non-profit museum, making a half year stopover in Beijing’s up-and-coming art and foodie hood, Shuangjing. Made up of over 360 creations from both the Van Cleef & Arpels Collection and private collections, the exhibition showcases some of the most emblematic creations.

The history of the Maison is studded with technical inventions, passed down by generations the Mains d’Or. This exceptional savior faire of these master craftsmen, combined with a rich imagination – visitors can anticipate an astonishing outpouring of creativity.

Beginning at 1906, visitors will journey through decades of movements and trends curated in chronological order, ending your time travel by marvelling at contemporary pieces. The mood of discovery and mystique if reflected by the exhibition’s new home that is inspired by the misty effects and landscapes winding in Chinese ink.

Below is a brief walkthrough of the significant eras that the exhibition celebrates.

Indian inspired clip Paris, 1924 Platinum, enamel, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds

The Roaring Twenties, a carefree inter-war period, was immortalised by the iconic flapper girl that embodied the most independence and wantonness that women have ever experienced. Paris was the undisputed capital of the arts, luxury, and entertainment. The geometric lines of Art Deco overshadowed Art Nouveau, although naturalistic subjects continued to play an important part in the Maison’s history.

Minaudière evening bag, Paris, 1935

Despite the depressive Wall Street crash, the 1930s observed great innovations that helped to keep the spirits up. The minaudière in 1934 was a stunning technological advancement of the simple vanity case. The hard-case evening bag allowed the modern woman to include all the glamorous essentials, her lipstick, powder case, lighter and cigarettes into one compact, beautiful box.

Some designs were more figurative, with birds and stylized plant motifs to invoke a sense of hope and joy. The Mystery Set, inspired by 19th-century Roman micro-mosaics, was known for it’s revolutionary technique of setting precious stones.

Dancer clip, New York, 1947

The workshop pace was slowed down by the onset of war, but emerged one of Van Cleef & Arpels’ most recognisable motifs of hope, the dancer. First debuted after Claude Arpels befriended George Balanchine, co-founder of the New York City Ballet, the maison’s relationship with dance continues till today. Last year, ‘Hearts & Arrows’ — a collaboration with Benjamin Millepied’s (also known as Natalie Portman’s husband) L.A. Dance Project — was staged in Singapore.

Margot Robbie wearing the iconic ‘Zip’ necklace at the 2015 Oscars

A time of reconstruction, creativity spurred on with technical innovation and new materials. Many major couturiers came up with ready-to-wear collections, including Van Cleef & Arpels’ “La Boutique” collection. One of the pieces, the Zip necklace, remains to be one the most remarkable innovation within the field of High Jewelry today.

The hedonistic 1960s saw an explosion of forms, colors, and materials, marked by the maison’s emblematic long Alhambra necklaces in gold and set with a colourful spectrum of gemstones. The influence of hippy counterculture also extended to Van Cleef & Arpels’ repertoire, with Indian jewelry inspired designs such turquoise, and a number of birds and flowers clips.

In the 1970s, while precious stone jewelry (joaillerie) remained the more popular design, precious metal jewelry (bijouterie) gradually broke free of traditional references to make its own mark. The approaching decades saw the emergence of more contemporary designs, simplicity and sobriety predominating.

Automate Fée Ondine, Paris, 2016

In 2016, the Maison combined telling the time with its own dreamlike universe to create its first table automation. The result of several years’ work and close collaboration between some twenty different workshops, the Automate Fée Ondine brings this exhibition to a close in a truly enchanting way.

For more information on the exhibition, visit www.todayartmuseum.com


Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Planétarium and Midnight Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs

The “Poetry of Time” concept of Van Cleef & Arpels is consistently practiced, resulting in a variety of timepieces that go from the quartz powered Sweet Alhambra to those fascinating secret watches. The one creation we cannot exclude from the write-up, however, is the Lady Arpels Planétarium: the smaller, ladies’ version of the Midnight Planétarium watch of 2014.

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Planétarium and Midnight Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs

This is a 38 mm white gold watch with diamonds all around the bezel. Circular rings of glittering, deep blue aventurine set the stage for the most central planets of the solar system. The sun is depicted in pink gold at the epicentre with mercury in pink mother-of-pearl, venus in green enamel and the earth in turquoise. These tiny representations take as many days as the respective planets do in real life to complete one orbit around the sun.


Although the farther planets are not included due to the smaller size of the watch, the added bonus here is the diamond moon which dances around the sun in a realistic fashion, thereby serving to indicate the phases of the moon. And lest we forget, this is a watch after all so it must tell time. That task is trusted to the shooting star which circles the outer perimeter where the hour numerals and the interim dots combine to give the most accurate approximation possible.

While the gender balance is not and will never be precisely at the centre at Van Cleef & Arpels, it is a pleasure still to see that they do not forego gentlemen’s watches completely. For SIHH 2018, the thoughtful maison has presented, for gentlemen, the Midnight Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs in a 42 mm, satin-finished pink gold case. The model name can be loosely translated as “the time here, the time elsewhere. That is the reason why there are two opposing windows to indicate the hour in different time zones. One retrograde hand traces along the scale from 0 to 60 in order to tell the minute, shared by both cities.

At the beginning of a new cycle, the hand resets to the starting position in the simultaneous fashion as the jumping of the hour to the new numerals. The self-winding movement used is developed exclusively for Van Cleef & Arpels by the Geneva-based specialist Agenhor – it can be admired through the sapphire crystal caseback.

If you feel you have seen this watch before, that is because it is not a brand new creation. Its predecessor was introduced at SIHH 2014 as the Pierre Arpels Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs watch in white gold with white lacquer dial. Then as now, the timepiece is a part of the permanent collection and intended for gentlemen with regular need to travel, presumably for business, or those whose heart is intrinsically linked to someone in a faraway country.

Lady Arpels Planétarium Price and Specs

Movement Automatic calibre featuring exclusive Planétarium module with 40 hours power reserve
Case 38mm diameter case in white gold set with diamonds
Strap Blue glitter alligator leather
Price On Application

Midnight Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs Price and Specs

Movement Automatic calibre dual time zone, jumping hour and retrograde minutes movement developed exclusively for Van Cleef & Arpels with 48 hours power reserve
Case 42mm pink gold case
Strap Blue glitter alligator leather
Price On Application


Lady Arpels Planétarium for SIHH 2018

Lady Arpels Planétarium for SIHH 2018

Van Cleef & Arpels has presented a new chapter to the exclusive high jewellery watch collection this holiday season, highlighting the Midnight Planétarium™ specially-designed for women. The new creation by The Maison is an expression of Poetry of Time® through the depiction of a cosmo, illustrated by the Sun and Moon, the star constellations along with the closest planets: Mercury, Venus and Earth.

Intended for female devotees of exceptional watches, look forward to the Lady Arpels Planétarium timepieces from the SIHH 2018, a restyled iconic creation from the Midnight Planétarium watch and the Lady Arpels Zodiac models in 2014. The new depiction of this exquisite Lady Arpels Planétarium offers an intimate view into a rich universe of Poetic Astronomy where the interaction of Sun and Moon and the beauty of a star-studded sky combined, is set to arouse emotions.

Innate Beauty of a Haute Horlogerie

Haute Horlogerie is undoubtedly the key innovation that elevates Van Cleef & Arpels’ standard of movement and the ethereal decorations of the dial to its pinnacle levels. The magic of the universe comes to life in a precious setting, encapsulated on a woman’s wrist depicted by the Mercury, Venus and Earth orbiting around the sun at their actual speeds: 88 days for Mercury, 224 days for Venus and 365 days for Earth. While the diamond Moon akin to a sparkling dancer moving around the Earth in 29.5 days, creating a curious celestial ballet on the dial.

The Lady Arpels Planétarium of timelessness and good taste

This eloquent example is a new and exclusive module developed in collaboration with Christiaan van der Klaauw for Van Cleef & Arpels, featuring Self-winding mechanical movement redesigned in a smaller size to fit perfectly into a 38-mm diameter case in white-gold, studded with diamonds in the bezel and sides of the case.

The dial imbues the epitome of good tastes and understated luxury, visible through the planetary spectacle with a shooting star in rhodium-plated gold, showing the time with poetic grace. On the case back shows two apertures display the day, month and year, all surrounded by an enchanting decor. To complete this High Jewellery design, two bracelets are available either in a blue glitter alligator strap to match the dial or a bracelet entirely set with diamonds.

Dial: Aventurine, Sun in pink gold, shooting star in rhodium-plated gold, Mercury in pink mother-of-pearl, Venus in green enamel, Earth in turquoise, Moon in diamond

Case back: White gold, pink gold, aventurine, sapphire glass, calendar, oscillating weight in white gold and black PVD, Moon in white gold with serti neige style diamonds, Earth in turquoise and ornamental stones echoing the planets

Movement: Self-winding mechanical movement featuring a Planétarium module developed exclusively for Van Cleef & Arpels with 40-hour power reserve

The beauty of this truly original women’s edition timepiece lies in the fact that Van Cleef & Arpels has involved master watchmakers and craftsmen, lapidaries, gem setters, enamellers, engravers and more to complete the technical wonders of watchmaking. The painstaking dedication, unmatched expertise and precision to assemble the precious materials and the aventurine discs on the movement are all part of the brand’s cosmic story that brings the dial to life.

For more information about the Lady Arpels Planétarium timepiece, please visit Van Cleef & Arpels here.

Meet the Winners of GPHG 2017

The Oscars of the watch industry has just ended and 17th edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve (GPHG) has yielded some expected winners and also some unexpected upsets. Come meet the winners of GPHG 2017.

Meet the Winners of GPHG 2017

Founded in 2001, the main objective of the Foundation of Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) promotes Swiss watchmaking traditions and values worldwide. The annual GPHG honours excellence of horological production and the finest creations each November at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. This year, the GPHG 2017 panel of jurists have chosen these brands as winners for the following awards:

Winner of GPHG 2017 Ladies High Mech Watch Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels

Winner of GPHG 2017 Ladies High Mech Watch Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels  Lady Arpels Papillon Automate

Ever faithful to a poetic view of life, Van Cleef & Arpels introduced a distinctive dimension to the field of watchmaking: that of dreams and emotion. Best known of “poetic complications” or mechanical expressions of stories on the dial, the Van Cleef and Arpels Lady Arpels Papillon Automate expresses these values and themes emblematic to the maison.

Employing both watchmaking and artisanal skills, watchmakers, lapidaries, enamelers, engravers and stone-setters combine theirl savoir-faire to embellish complication watches and exceptional dials like those of the Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Papillon Automate to depict  a dreamlike perspective on the passage of time.

Why it won: As the hours and minutes flow, the butterfly of the Lady Arpels Papillon Automate beats its wings randomly – one to four times in a row, depending on the power reserve.The maison manages to create a lifelike automaton butterfly thanks to the irregular frequency of its movements, taking place every two to four minutes when the watch is not being worn and more often when it is on the wrist. The butterfly’s liveliness echoes that of its wearer, with alternating periods of calm and activity or it can be activated on demand via button.

Winner of GPHG 2017 Tourbillon and Escapement Watch Prize: Bulgari

Winner of GPHG 2017 Tourbillon and Escapement Watch Prize: Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton

Bulgari has been collecting watchmaking kudos since they astounded the industry with their 2014 Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, breaking records to become the world’s slimmest tourbillon. For 2017, the brand upped the horological ante by skeletonising their record breaking tourbillon and introducing the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton.

The Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton is driven by an ultra-thin, openworked tourbillon comprising 253 parts. To ensure perfect efficiency and precision, its barrel spring is equipped with a slipping spring and the tourbillon cage is fitted on a peripherally driven ultra-thin ball-bearing mechanism. This exceptional in-house movement houses a barrel held by three ball bearings, an innovative feature serving to double the height of the barrel spring and thus achieve an 80% increase in power reserve, delivering a 52-hour power reserve, an impressive accomplishment for such a slim tourbillon model.

Why it won: By skeletonising an ultra thin tourbillon and then applying ball bearings to further reduce the thickness of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, Bulgari moves to another level by offering devotees of beautiful watchmaking a new interpretation with an entirely skeleton-worked tourbillon. Bulgari also swept up the GPHG 2017 men’s watch prize with their Octo Finissimo automatic

Winner of GPHG 2017 Innovation Prize: Zenith

Winner of GPHG 2017 Innovation Prize: Zenith DEFY Lab

When World of Watches spoke to Jean Claude Biver in July, we learnt that the LVMH watchmaking chief had planned to position Zenith as the “future of tradition”. It was then that we learnt of a brand new Zenith oscillator. When the winner of GPHG 2017 innovation prize was revealed to be the Zenith DEFY Lab, there was really little surprise to the editorial team.

Zenith introduces a completely newly developed movement called the ZO 342 for the DEFY Lab. Instead of using the conventional means of regulating a mechanical watch by means of a balance and hairspring assembly with its more than 30 individual parts and a thickness of about 5 mm, the LVMH Watch Division Research & Development Department innovated the single 0.5 mm high Zenith-Oscillator. The monolithic regulating organ for the DEFY Lab which consists of only two components with considerably optimized functionality. The Zenith-Oscillator is an all-of-a-piece organ without mechanical linkages that replaces 31 ordinarily assembled, adjusted, regulated and controlled parts. The absence of conventional mechanical couplings eliminates contact, friction, wear, slack, lubrication, assemblies and dispersions.

Why it won: The 15 Hz (108,000 vibrations per hour) frequency of the Zenith-Oscillator is three times the historical frequency of the El Primero movement, while showing a 10 percent higher power reserve. In terms of precision of the Zenith DEFY Lab exceeds requirements of the ISO-3159 standard. In fact, never has a serially produced mechanical watch in the history of watchmaking reached such a high level of performance and precision amounting to +/- 0.5 seconds from 0 to 48 hours, trumping the best conventional series production balance assemblies range of +/- 2 seconds over 24 hours. Of course Zenith won the GPHG 2017 innovation prize, duh.

Winner of GPHG 2017 Petite Aiguille prize: Tudor

Winner of GPHG 2017 Petite Aiguille prize: Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph

The vintage inspired Tudor Black Bay Chronograph was winner of the GPHG 2017 Petite Aiguille prize. When Tudor released teasers about a new chronograph unveiling for Baselworld 2017, I had hoped it would be a Monte Carlo Chronograph, instead, their new manufacture Tudor Chronograph derived its core aesthetic elements from the Heritage Black Bay diver’s models. Nevertheless, it’s an attractive vintage looking two register chronograph and a distinct brand icon of modern Tudor rather than being another heritage re-issue.

Why it won: Boasting a 70-hour power reserve, a silicon balance spring and certification by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute, the Manufacture chronograph Calibre MT5813 that drives the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph model is a high-performance movement which was developed with Breitling (who themselves refer to the chronograph movement as manufacture calibre Breitling 01). The Tudor Black Bay Chronograph’s MT5813 uses the brand’s own high-precision regulating organ and exclusive finishing.

Winner of GPHG 2017 Revival watch: Longines

Winner of GPHG 2017 Revival watch: Longines Avigation BigEye

With a treasure trove of immense heritage (Longines was one of the original BIg Three before Patek), Longines regularly draws on its historical pieces to enhance its Heritage line. The Longines Avigation BigEye is a re-issue chronograph from the 1930es. The brand with the Flying Hourglass motif also has a great tradition of pilot watches and provenance within the field of aviation, case in point: Charles Lindbergh.

Why it won: The Longines Avigation BigEye is inspired by a chronograph whose aesthetic is typical of the great age of aviation. True to the spirit of pilots’ watches, this model displays a very readable dial with a focus on the minute counter and tactile push buttons operable with aviator gloves. Given the heritage, there’s little wonder the Longines Avigation BigEye takes the revival watch prize.

Winner of GPHG 2017 Aiguille D’or Grand Prix: Chopard

Winner of GPHG 2017 Aiguille D’or Grand Prix: Chopard L.U.C. Full Strike

To take top honours during your 20th birthday is a fitting celebration; the Winner of GPHG 2017 Aiguille D’or Grand Prix: Chopard L.U.C. Full Strike, the Fleurier manufacture’s first ever minute repeater. With more than six years of work, the L.U.C. Full Strike is Chopard’s most sophisticated chiming watch to date, building upon the L.U.C Strike One which chimes each striking hour, launched in 2006.

The L.U.C Full Strike chimes the hours, quarters and minutes on transparent crystal gongs, the result is exceptional clarity. These sapphire rings are an integral part of the watch glass, which creates a perfect loudspeaker faithfully to diffuse the chimes of the hammers striking the sapphire. This is a unique technical solution which is visible at 10 o’clock and results in a tone of matchless purity that is rich and full, powerful and resonant. It makes literal the traditional maxim “crystal-clear” sound.

Why it won: Almost 17,000 hours of development have been lavished on the development of calibre 08.01-L and Chopard has found all-new in-house responses to historical issues relating to the nature of the gongs, as well as to the operation and ergonomics of the striking system as a whole, in the process applying for three pending patents. Furthermore, a series of security systems protect the L.U.C Full Strike from all inappropriate handling operations that can damage minute repeaters. Finally, the rotations of the strike governor – the component that gives the striking mechanism its rhythm – traditionally produces a humming sound but on the calibre L.U.C 08.01-L is entirely inaudible. Editor’s Note: At a point in minute repeater history, a competing brand had indeed discovered a solution to silence the humming component only to have it re-introduced when the watch buying public considered the minute repeater “hum” a mark of quality.

Winner of GPHG 2017 Mechanical Exception Watch Prize: Vacheron Constantin

Winner of GPHG 2017 Mechanical Exception Watch Prize: Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600

Brooking the least argument, the winner of GPHG 2017 Mechanical Exception Watch Prize rightly belongs to the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600.

The unique twin-dial Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 combines astronomy and the watchmaking art in a celestial white gold composition. Twenty-three essentially astronomical complications appear on the front and back dials of the watch, providing a reading of time in three modes – civil, solar and sidereal – each driven by its own gear train. Embodying the height of technical sophistication, its fully integrated 514-part calibre with six barrels guarantee three full weeks of autonomy.

Why it won: Featuring an all-new construction, Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 follows in the eminent wake of a unique creation representing a milestone in the history of mechanical horology and laying a veritable cornerstone for new watchmaking feats by Vacheron Constantin. Five years of development starting from a blank page, a dedicated master-watchmaker, along with two years of design, have given life to the one-of-a-kind Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600, displaying 23 complications on its twin dials. This Haute Horlogerie ‘heavenly phenomenon’ is one of the most complex ever made and heir to a proud lineage of astronomical timepieces. It provides a combined display of civil, solar and sidereal times by means of three separate gear trains.

Winner of GPHG 2017 Special Jury Prize: Chanel Mademoiselle Coromandel with enamel dial made by Anita Porchet and Suzanna Rohr

Winner of GPHG 2017 Special Jury Prize: Chanel Mademoiselle Coromandel with enamel dial made by Anita Porchet and Suzanna Rohr

The work of master artisans — enamellers, engravers, and stone-setters — the Mademoiselle Privé Coromandel exemplifies Chanel watchmaking and their penchant for intricate beauty. Suzanna Rohr and Anita Porchet are virtual strangers to industry outsiders but in high horology circles, they are veritable grand mistresses of enamelling.

A visit to Gabrielle Chanel’s Rue Cambon apartment will reveal her love for exotic orientalism – courtesy of the Coromandel panels dressing her home. That the Chanel Mademoiselle Coromandel with exquisite enamel dial made by Anita Porchet and Suzanna Rohr takes this special prize is fitting from both an artisan and brand heritage perspective.

GPHG 2017 Unexpected Upset 1: Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph

The Visionnaire Chronograph, powered by the automatic calibre 6361, is a revolutionary new movement that imparts unprecedented clarity, precision and efficiency to the highly popular chronograph complication. The new chronograph movement developed by Agenhor, the Geneva-based movement specialist, is the brainchild of Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. This significant gain in legibility is thanks to the unique construction of the calibre 6361, comprising a central chronograph module set within an annular base movement.

The advantages imparted by the unique construction of the calibre 6361 go far beyond chronograph legibility. Chronographs are inextricably associated with the concept of precision, and the new instant-start indications of the calibre 6361 provide a significant advantage over the ambiguity of traditional chronographs and their semi-instantaneous twitches. This feat is achieved by a system of snail cams, fixed to the chronograph wheels along the central camshaft of the calibre 6361. Upon completion of a full minute or a full hour, a snail cam trips a pawl that instantly clicks the chronograph indication forwards by a single step. Further precision is provided by the patented AgenClutch, a completely novel, lateral-friction clutch that robustly combines the smooth engagement of the modern vertical clutch with the flatness of the traditional system.

GPHG 2017 Unexpected Upset 2: Montblanc 1815 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition

The 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition 100 showcases a vintage style: sunray  finished champagne dial matching the bronze case.

At the heart of the timepiece lies a traditional manual monopusher chronograph movement, the calibre MB M16.29, with a column wheel mechanism, horizontal coupling, chronograph bridge in a “V” shape, a large screwed balance wheel vibrating at a frequency of 18,000 semi oscillations per hour and a power reserve of 50 hours.

This in-house chronograph has been entirely handcrafted at the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret and is characterized by an exceptional finishing. Designed in a large “pocket watch” style, the calibre MB M16.29 has been inspired by the original calibre 17.29 designed for pocket watches and wristwatches in the 1930s. This new version uses almost the same shape of components as the calibre 17.29 , but features different finishings, such as inside angles, Côtes de Genève stripes and circular graining.

Van Cleef & Arpels Perlée: Emblematic Elegance

Unabashedly glamorous, undeniably refined and unmistakably feminine, the artisanship and craft for Van Cleef & Arpels has been on display, prominently displayed on wrists, draped seductively above many a décolletage and on some of the most prominent royalty in human history. Driven by a passion for beauty and excellence, the origins of Van Cleef & Arpels can be traced back to the love story of Alfred Van Cleef and Estelle Arpels where their union led to the establishment of the maison at 22 Place Vendome in 1906.

In fashioning some of the most memorable adornments over the last hundred years, the Van Cleef & Arpels Perlée collection stands a joyful testament to the expertise in the creation of some of the fabulous jewels and baubles of our time. Conceived in 1920, the aesthetic elements which would eventually become the design heritage of the Perlée laid the foundational groundwork in artisanal haute joallerie.

Van Cleef & Arpels Perlée: Emblematic Elegance

First, golden beads, a distinctive element in the brand’s provenance, was initially used as a delicate framing element to highlight and emphasise stones and motifs. Over the years, these artistic flourishes had become so recognisable and so mistakably “Van Cleef & Arpels” that in 1948, the maison had taken these ‘decorative frames’ as muse to form a collection of necklaces, earrings, bracelets and watches in the Couscous collection, inspired by a voyage to Morocco by the Arpels family. Next, as time marched the tastes and trends of the day might have changed, but the seductive appeal for bracelets and rings made from a multitude of yellow gold beads draped with precious stones in a dazzling array of assorted combinations came to exist in playful forms, christened “Twist” in 1963 where beaded braids alternated with other materials, their brilliance contrasting with the orangey-red of coral, the luminous blue of turquoise or the iridescent sheen of cultured pearls and finally, in 2008, the radiant beaded form has become so recognisable that to not endow the emblematic aesthetic with its own line, would have been tantamount to an artistic sin – thus, it came to be called, Perlée.

Workshop Pelée perle d’or

So named for the French expressions for a decorative pattern consisting of small circles or pearls, Perlée collection is a testimony to the Maison’s heritage and savoir-faire. Precious spheres in full bloom, Van Cleef & Arpels Perlée multiplies the ornamentation across three or five rows to create a three-dimensional effect. Here, individual gold beads are polished on a shimmering array of rings and bracelets, producing unique and subtle interplays of light which play according to her owner’s movements.

Thanks to a discrete clasp, the Perlée bracelet is emminently wearable and easy to open. When combined with its matching ring companion, the Perlée ensemble is harmonious, opulent yet tastefully sophisticated. Like all Van Cleef & Arpels’ jewelry pieces, Perlée ornaments are part of centennial of culture and history for a boutique so practiced in accessorising the Royal Houses of Europe. The Perlée collection is the sum of the savoir-faire of craftsmen of old, handed down and renewed over the generations, each succession an intricate improvement which serve not just to improve upon the countenance of these objets d’art but also their wearability and comfort – to wit, meticulous jewelry craftsmanship today renders the hinge invisible once the piece has been closed, hiding the discrete clasp beneath a single larger bead.

Workshop Pelée perle d’or

Day or night, the Perlée perles d’or bracelet and ring are versatile – dripped in yellow gold for day, drenched in sparkling ribbons of diamonds for night or alternatively, available in white gold for even greater stylistic flexibility. When combined with discerning choice of Perlée couleurs rings, hard stones – onyx, malachite or turquoise, these accessories serve her mistress in joyous association for mood, season and ensemble, making the Perlée among some of the most elegant and courtly of collections for Van Cleef & Arpels.

The Most Artistic Power Reserve Ever: Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Papillon Automate


It is a symphony of butterflies for jeweller and watchmaker Van Cleef & Arpels at the Salon International de la haute Horlogerie (SIHH) 2017, especially in its stellar new Lady Arpels Papillon Automate. While a slew of brands presented watches that defy conventional expectations, Van Cleef & Arpels relegated time itself to the sidelines as it showcased its mechanical ingenuity. This latest Poetic Complication simply features a butterfly in motion, a feat accomplished by an outstandingly complicated mechanical calibre.

The Most Artistic Power Reserve Ever: Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Papillon Automate

Now, Van Cleef & Arpels has leaned hard into automatons in the past (Lovers on the Bridge anyone?) but this one is just plain marvelous. In my own notes for this watch, that’s the word I used. With the help of the watchmakers at Valfleurier – the Richemont group’s top development people – the brand has used the usual tricks of the minute repeater to bring a mechanical butterfly on the dial to life. From a centrifugal force regulator to the pusher-activated motion of the butterfly, there really is a lot of chiming watch-derived mechanics. Importantly, the motion of the butterfly actually happens en passant as well as on-demand, meaning it will move automatically even when the watch is not on one’s wrist, as long as power remains in the system.

For our money, this is one of the most impressive watches of SIHH 2017, be it for gents or ladies; technically complicated or beautiful like a jewel. If you are technically inclined, just figuring out how this timepiece goes will be pure pleasure. If beauty inspires you, the dial is really a sculpture – an homage to both the natural forces that brought the diamonds to bear here and the extraordinary craftsmanship that brought the vision to life. It features miniature painting as well as every kind of enamelling you could care to name, including champlevé, paillonné, plique-à-jour and curved plique-à-jour.

It is at this point that we face a frustrating dilemma: to dive into the mechanics of the piece, revealing its secrets or allowing the magic of the moment to stand. As other observers have noted over the years, there is a sort of magic in a mechanical watch – a sort of mystery that drives collectors and the like. In other words, this is where figuring out how things work comes into play. For example, the motion of the butterfly’s wings is not just automatic and on-demand – the wings actually beat irregularly and will speed up if the mainspring is wound up fully. This randomness is entirely intentional and seems entirely counter to the regularity that timekeepers strive for. Just for a moment, we invite you to bask in the awesomeness. We will surely return to this piece in greater depth another time.

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Papillon Automate Price and Specs

Movement: Automatic with four patents pending, with animated butterfly automaton
Case: 40mm white gold, diamonds in serti-neige style setting
Strap: Blue alligator strap with white gold pin buckle set with diamonds
Price: On Request

SIFA, Van Cleef & Arpels Present Le Syndrome Ian in Singapore

If you’ve ever wondered how ballet might interpret Joy Division music, Van Cleef & Arpels’ Le Syndrome Ian is the show for you. Dance meets fine jewellery as the Singapore Festival of Arts (SIFA) joins with Van Cleef & Arpels to present Christian Rizzo’s Le Syndrome Ian in Singapore from August 24-26. One of our favourite jewellery and watchmaking maisons, Van Cleef & Arpels is renowned for its ballerina motifs, starting from clips in the 1940s all the way to dazzling timepieces today. No doubt SIFA sought out Van Cleef & Arpels for this very reason as few other jewellery and watchmaking maisons have such a strong connection to the world of dance.

An official part of the SIFA 2017 programme, Van Cleef & Arpels’ Le Syndrome Ian is Rizzo’s spin on the spontaneous choreography of nightclub dance. Seemingly the antithesis of ballet, Rizzo stages the entire performance by channelling Joy Division (the ‘Ian’ of the title is a reference to Ian Curtis). The performance was so successful last year that it was awarded the Fedora – Van Cleef & Arpels prize for Ballet 2016. This award honours new creations in ballet that keep the art in touch with contemporary mores, and encourages innovative thinking in the field of dance.

Van Cleef & Arpels’ legacy in this regard rests on then-house scion Louis Arpels aforementioned ballerina clips. This has put the jewellery and watchmaking maison on a path that frequently intersects with dance, giving it a dash of youthful vigour.

It is no accident that Rizzo picked Joy Division for this exploration of nightclub culture, although today’s audiences might have preferred Diplo, Avicii or Steve Aoki. Apparently, the performance is powered by Rizzo’s own formative dance experiences, lending a personal flavour to Le Syndrome Ian.

Rizzo’s Le Syndrome Ian will be staged at the SOTA Drama Theatre in Singapore on August 24, 25 and 26, at 8pm. It is a one-hour performance so there is no intermission. Tickets are available via Sistic and are priced at $45, $60 and $75. There is a 25% SIFA Friend discount while NSFs, students and seniors all enjoy %20 discount.

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Six Enamelling Techniques used for luxury watch making, from Patek Philippe to Cartier, Hermès and more

Enamelling at Swiss watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne

Enamelling at Swiss watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne

Enamelling is a tedious process, to put it mildly. The raw material must first be ground into a fine powder, then mixed with a suitable medium (oils or water are both used) to form a paint-like emulsion. This liquid is then applied like paint, before being fired in a kiln to vitrify it the medium evaporates, while the powder melts and fuses into glass. There are variations to these steps, of course. Some manufactures, for example, choose to sieve the power directly onto a base of either brass or gold, and fire this “layer” of powder directly. Whatever the process, every step is fraught with danger. The product may crack during the firing process. Unseen impurities may surface as imperfections. Colours may react in unexpected ways. There are numerous risks to endure. Why, then, does this technique continue to be used in watchmaking?

Despite all its drawbacks, enamel still has a depth and nuance that cannot be replicated anywhere else. It is also permanent vitrified enamel is essentially inert and, like noble metals, remains unchanged even a century from now. Different enamelling techniques are capable of creating a wide spectrum of products as well, from a single large surface free of blemishes, to microscopic levels of detail as part of a painting. Perhaps the romantic aspect of this metiers d’art also accounts for part of its appeal; the time and touch of the enamellist is the perfect counterpoint to the watchmaker, with art on one side and science on the other.

Variations on a Theme

Enamels are fired at various temperatures or not at all depending on their types. Grand feu (literally “great fire”) enamel is fired at around 820 degrees Celsius, although intermediate firings to “set” it may be at around 100 degrees Celsius, to boil the solvent off without fusing the powder. Enamels in general, including those used in miniature painting, may also be fired at around 100 degrees Celsius instead. Finally, there is cold enamel, an epoxy resin that cures and hardens at room temperature.

There are no hard and fast rules to the craft; every enamellist has his/her own materials and approach

There are no hard and fast rules to the craft; every enamellist has his/her own materials and approach

What difference does it make? For a start, higher temperatures are definitely more difficult to work with, since the enamel may crack during firing, or the subsequent cooling down process. The spectrum of colours used in grand feu enamelling is also more limited, as there are fewer compounds that can withstand the temperature. The choice of technique boils down to the desired product for all its drawbacks, grand feu enamel has an inimitable look.

Seiko’s Presage SRQ019 chronograph with white enamel dial

Seiko’s Presage SRQ019 chronograph with white enamel dial

Enamels, porcelains, and lacquers all share common properties of hardness, durability, and the ability to take on both matte and polished finishes. The three aren’t interchangeable though. Lacquer is an organic finish that is applied in layers, with each successive coat curing at room temperature before the next is added. Porcelain is a ceramic that is produced by firing materials in a kiln to vitrify them. Although enamel is also fired, it only contains glass and colouring compounds and lacks porcelain’s clay content.

Raised Fields

In champlevé enamelling, a thick dial base is engraved to create hollow cells, before these cavities are filled with enamel and fired. Because the engraving step produces rough surfaces at the bottom of each cell, the champlevé technique typically uses only opaque enamels. The method allows areas on the dial to be selectively excavated, and for enamels to be mixed freely within each dial. This is done to great effect in Piaget’s Emperador Coussin XL Large Moon Enamel watch, where the gold dial is largely untouched for the “continents”, while the “oceans” are created in champlevé enamel, with differing shades of blue to convey their varying depths.

An excavated cell in Ulysse Nardin’s Classico Goat being filled with enamel using the champlevé technique

An excavated cell in Ulysse Nardin’s Classico Goat being filled with enamel using the champlevé technique

Champlevé enamelling’s use isn’t limited to creating decorative art. In Parmigiani Fleurier’s Tecnica Ombre Blanche, for instance, it was simply the most appropriate technique. Although the timepiece has a simple white enamel dial, its surface is interrupted by three sub-dials and an aperture for the tourbillon. Using champlevé enamelling here allowed each dial element to have a clearly defined border without adding unnecessary thickness. A possible alternative would be to make a complete enamel dial, before cutting out the appropriate sections in the middle. One can, however, imagine the risks of doing that.

Patek Philippe’s Ref. 6002 combines champlevé and cloisonné enamelling

Patek Philippe’s Ref. 6002 combines champlevé and cloisonné enamelling

Is there a limit to the level of details that can be achieved with champlevé enamel? Patek Philippe may have the answer with the Ref. 6002 Sky Moon Tourbillon. Apart from the centre portion, which is produced using the cloisonné technique (discussed later), its dial is a work of champlevé enamel even the railway track chapter ring was milled out in relief, before the recesses are filled with enamel and fired.

Engraving isn’t necessarily the only way to produce the cells used in champlevé enamel though. Hublot puts a modern twist on things with the Classic Fusion Enamel Britto, by stamping the white gold dial base to create the raised borders between the cells. This not only reduces the time needed for each dial but also ensures uniformity between them. Subsequent steps, however, remain unchanged the cells were sequentially filled with different colours of enamel and fired multiple times before the entire dial surface is polished to form a uniformly smooth surface.

Wire Work

Cloisonné enamelling is almost like the opposite of the champlevé technique instead of removing material from a dial blank, things are added on it instead. The “cloisons” (literally “partitions”) here refer to the wires, each no thicker than a human hair, that the enamellist bends into shape and attaches onto a base to create enclosed cells. These cells are then filled with enamel of different colours before the dial is fired to fuse the powder. The wires remain visible in the final product, and look like outlines of a drawing, with a metallic sheen that contrasts with the glassy surfaces of the enamel.

Wires are shaped and attached to a dial to form cells, before enamel is painted in

Wires are shaped and attached to a dial to form cells, before enamel is painted in

Plique-à-jour (“letting in daylight”) enamel can be considered a variation of cloisonné enamel, but the technique is a lot rarer owing to its complexity and fragility. Like its cloisonné sibling, plique-à-jour enamelling involves creating enclosed cells using wires, before filling them with enamel. In this case, however, there is no base. The lack of a backing can be achieved in various ways, but usually involves working on a base layer à la cloisonné enamelling, before filing it away to leave just the wires holding onto vitrified enamel. Since there is no base, plique-à-jour enamelling almost always involves transparent or translucent enamel that allows light through, which essentially creates tiny stained glass windows.

A dial in cloisonné enamel is in the making

A dial in cloisonné enamel is in the making

Van Cleef & Arpels has used the above technique to great effect. In the Lady Arpels Jour Nuit Fée Ondine watch, a 24-hour module rotates a graduated lower dial once a day to mimic Earth’s diurnal rhythm, while an upper dial with elements executed in plique-à-jour enamel forms the foreground. The watch thus creates an ever-changing scene that mimics the rising and setting of the sun and moon, with the appropriate shades of blue for the sky and water, depending on the time of the day.

Hybrid Theory

There are several “hybrid” techniques that combine enamelling with other decorative arts, and flinqué enamelling is arguably the best known given its long history of use. The technique combines guillochage with enamelling a brass or gold dial is first decorated with guilloché, before layers of enamel are successively applied and fired. When this enamel coating is sufficiently thick, it is polished to create a smooth surface; the final result is a translucent lens through which the guilloché is admired. Depending on the desired effect, the enamel used may be colourless to impart a subtle sheen, or coloured for more visual oomph, like the trio of limited edition Rotonde de Cartier high complications unveiled at Watches & Wonders 2015. Vacheron Constantin has even adapted the technique by using guilloché patterns to mimic woven fabrics in the Métiers d’Art Elégance Sartoriale.

Enamel being applied to the engraved white gold base on the Hermès Arceau Tigre

Enamel being applied to the engraved white gold base on the Hermès Arceau Tigre

Developed by the husband-and-wife team of Olivier and Dominique Vaucher, shaded enamel (email ombrant) also involves the application of translucent enamel over an engraved dial. Instead of a regular pattern à la guilloché, however, shaded enamel entails the creation of an image in relief. In the Hermès Arceau Tigre, the likeness of the animal is first carved into a white gold base, before translucent black enamel is applied and fired. A thicker layer of enamel accumulates in areas where the engraving is deeper and appears darker as a result the shading corresponds to the depth of the enamel, which creates an extremely lifelike product.

Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif

Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif

The final technique here is Cartier’s enamel granulation, which combines enamelling with Etruscan granulation originally used by goldsmiths. The craft requires multiple steps and is extremely tedious, to say the least. Enamel is first worked into threads of different diameters before these threads are chipped off bit by bit to form beads of various sizes. The beads are then sorted by colour and applied to the dial successively to assemble an image, with intermediate firings to set and fuse the enamel. As different colours of enamel fuse at different temperatures, there is a clearly defined order for the assembly process; up to 30 firings are necessary, and each dial requires nearly a month to complete. Like shaded enamel, enamel granulation is a very recent development, and Cartier has only used it on one watch so far: the Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif.

Metallic Content

Paillonné is among the rarest enamelling techniques today and practically synonymous with Jaquet Droz, which has maintained its expertise in this area. The manufacture currently has two full-time enamellists who don’t just produce enamel dials but also train artisans to perpetuate this know-how.

A paillon being applied to the coloured enamel “base”

A paillon being applied to the coloured enamel “base”

The “paillon” here refers to the small ornamental motifs that are created from gold leaf, and are the calling card of the technique. Essentially, paillonné enamelling involves setting paillons within enamel to form patterns, with regular geometric ones being the norm. To do so, a layer of coloured enamel is first fired to set it. Upon this layer, the paillons are positioned, before translucent enamel is applied and fired, thus “locking” the paillons in. Additional steps can be taken to create even more intricate designs. Before the coloured enamel layer is applied, for instance, the substrate surface may first be decorated with guilloché, which basically creates flinqué enamel that is then decorated with paillons over it. According to Jaquet Droz’s CEO Christian Lattmann, the textured base doesn’t just offer visual benefits but also helps the initial layer of coloured enamel to “stick” better. Lattmann also revealed that the choice of white or red gold as this base will impart a different tone to the finished product as well both because of its inherent colour and because of how the guillochage plays with light.

A watch from Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection, with applied precious metal powders on the enamelled surface

A watch from Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection, with applied precious metal powders on the enamelled surface

In lieu of regular patterns, Jaeger-LeCoultre opted for a twist on the technique, by distributing flecks of silver randomly on the dial instead. The result can be seen in the Hybris Artistica Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Enamel, whose enamel dial mimics the look of lapis lazuli. This technique was also used for the second dial of the Reverso One Duetto Moon.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Moon

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Moon

While not paillonné enamelling per se, Vacheron Constantin’s use of hand applied precious powder deserves a mention here. In the manufacture’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières timepieces, gold, platinum, diamond, and pearl powders are affixed to the surface of the enamel dial by Japanese enamel artisan Yoko Imai. Instead of being covered with a layer of enamel, these particles sit atop them, and catch the light variously to mimic a bird’s eye view of a city at night.

Brush Strokes

Enamel painting is simply painting with enamel pigments rather than some other medium. The technique is challenging not just due to the canvas’s size, which makes it miniature painting as well, but also because of the multiple firings needed to vitrify and set the enamels, colour by colour. Given the level of detail that can be achieved, however, this is one of the few techniques that are capable of making their subjects almost lifelike. Consider Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère, which has the eponymous animal rendered in this technique, for example. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso à Eclipse also showcases what enamel painting is capable of with its uncanny facsimile of Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait as a Painter on its dial.

Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère being painted. Image © Pierre-William Henry

Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère being painted. Image © Pierre-William Henry

Grisaille enamel can be considered a subset of enamel painting, and is a specific method of painting white on black to create monochromic imagery. The black canvas is grand feu enamel that must first be applied, fired, and then polished to create a perfectly smooth surface that’s free of imperfections. This preparatory step is, in and of itself, already very challenging, as minute flaws are extremely easy to spot on such a surface this explains why most watch brands offer white enamel dials, but black onyx or lacquer dials instead of enamel. Upon this black canvas, the enamellist paints using Blanc de Limoges, which is a white enamel whose powder is more finely ground than normal. To create micro details, fine brushes, needles, and even cactus thorns are used, and the dial is painted and fired multiple times to create the nuanced paintings grisaille enamel is known for.

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Owing to its complexity, grisaille enamel is rarely seen. There are brands that still offer metiers d’art watches with them though, sometimes with their own take on the technique. In its Métiers d’Art Hommage à l’Art de la Danse collection, Vacheron Constantin opted to use translucent brown enamel for the dial base to impart a greater sense of depth, while softening the contrast between the two colours. Van Cleef & Arpels used a midnight blue base in its Midnight Nuit Boréale and Nuit Australe timepieces instead, to evoke the night sky.

This article was originally published in WOW.

Jewellery exhibitions in Hong Kong: Van Cleef and Arpels presents animal clips inspired by Noah’s Ark

Elephant clips, © Van Cleef & Arpels

Elephant clips, © Van Cleef & Arpels

Elephants, foxes and peacocks are just some of the animals fashioned into exquisite high jewellery pieces by Van Cleef & Arpels in a sixty-piece collection called ‘L’Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels’, or Noah’s Ark as told by Van Cleef & Arpels. They will be on show in a special installation at Hong Kong’s Asia Society from 10 to 26 March 2017.

The bejewelled clips in the collection take inspiration from a Jan Brueghel the Elder painting of the story of Noah’s Ark, ‘The Entry of the Animals into Noah’s Ark’ (1613), which shows a gathering of animals in a forest clearing next to a stream. According to the J. Paul Getty Museum where the painting resides, in 1609, Brueghel had been appointed court painter to Archduke Albert and his wife the Infanta Isabella, who built a menagerie in Brussels populated with exotic animals from all over the world. The artist was thus able to observe them in person, and render them in his painting.

This masterpiece was the starting point for this collection Van Cleef & Arpels, which has a tradition of adeptly reinterpreting cultural references in their unique language. Nicolas Bos, President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels says, “The Maison often creates a dialogue between its own identity and heritage on one hand, and broad historical themes and references from other cultural spheres.”

Squirrel clips, © Van Cleef & Arpels

Squirrel clips, © Van Cleef & Arpels

‘L’Arche de Noé’ is testament to Van Cleef & Arpels’ creativity and craftsmanship. Each pair of bejewelled clips is a composed narrative in itself. Two squirrels rub noses over an egg-shaped 46-carat white opal, as if in glee at their fortune of foraging the treasure. A giraffe hangs its head ever so slightly, while its partner looks protectively into the distance, seemingly to plan their next move, their pink gold bodies resplendent with jewels for their characteristic spots. Then there are the dragonflies in flight, one featuring a 2.28-carat cushion-cut tourmaline and the other showing off a 3.27-carat garnet. The details in the clips are extraordinary, and the minerals and gems used stunning.

While most of the animals appear in complementary pairs, mostly in separate clips, a number on singular clips such as ladybirds perched on a single branch, and even in a trio with the kangaroo family where the mother is holding a little one in the pouch, there are mythical creatures that have been crafted as individuals: Pegasus, a phoenix and a unicorn. The unicorn clip, for one, is a captivating sight, with its head arched gracefully towards its back, its hooves in mid-stride and its long luxurious tail curled forward. The regal beauty, created from white and red gold, shows off round diamonds, marquise-cut emeralds, baguette-cut sapphires, turquoise, and Mystery Set™ sapphires.

To enhance the public’s enjoyment of these beautiful jewellery pieces, Van Cleef & Arpels has invited American theatre and visual artist Robert Wilson to create the immersive experience. Wilson has had an illustrious career that has crossed many artistic fields, from theatre and opera to paintings and sculptures. He has won many accolades, including the Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale and the Olivier Award. Speaking about his work on the scenography for the installation, his first in the world of high jewellery, Wilson says, “The kingdoms of childhood, literature, and animals have always fascinated me, and yet I did not draw much inspiration from them to design this scenography. I would rather describe it as a journey along sensory sceneries, as the abstract and fancy-free immersion into a fairytale.”

Upon entering the installation, which was first shown in Paris at the Hotel d’Evreux in September 2016, the eye is drawn to the back centre of the room where a brightly lit skeleton of a boat is suspended surrounded by ceiling-to-floor video screens on the walls showing an undulating image of the calm sea, bringing to life the passage of Noah’s Ark. A selection of 40 jewelled animals appear to float in small glass boxes placed around the room. In the background, Arvo Pärt’s meditative ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ – or ‘Mirror in the Mirror’ – plays on a loop, to be interrupted by the sound of thunder followed by heavy rain before it stops all of a sudden to return to the lulling music.

The collaboration between Van Cleef & Arpels with Robert Wilson, both representing the highest standards in their respective fields, spells a magical experience to be had at the ‘L’Arche de Noe’ installation for one and all.

Art Republik spoke with Robert Wilson to find out more about his installation for L’Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels at the Asia Society Hong Kong.

What made you say yes to the project? What expectations did you have going in?

I said yes because it’s something I have never done before, so it was kind of a challenge. I went around when I was first asked to do the project and I went to jewellery shops, and… forgive me, but that was so boring. It was also very difficult to see the jewellery. It was either too busy or too noisy or something, and so I was thinking, how can I see these tiny little jewelled animals? What should the space look like? What should it sound like? What should the light be like? I started there.

Exhibition shot of ‘L'Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels’ at The Hôtel d'Évreux in Paris, France, from 3 to 26 September 2016. Image courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels.

Exhibition shot of ‘L’Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels’ at The Hôtel d’Évreux in Paris, France, from 3 to 26 September 2016. Image courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels.

What were the ideas you had for the installation?

I wanted to make a rather calm environment, and I was thinking about this flood, this great body of water, this boat of animals. It is very curious that there were pairs of animals, so I started thinking about the number two: we have two, and a pair is one, so it is not one plus one equals two, but two equals one, and so you have this music that you hear in the background which is meditative and calm, but there is an erupted thunder, so there are intervals. It was a way of constructing sound in the space. I wanted to have a spiritual environment of light, but this is interrupted by something dark. I was thinking of this journey, this ark, to describe in the Bible. I did not see it as a religious story, but more of a spiritual story. And I was thinking originally to build a big ark or a boat, and you would enter it, and it just seemed all wrong. So, you see in this installation here a very small boat, and these jewelled animals are almost like navigation, like stars in a chart around the room. And if you think of Noah’s ark, the sort of flood, the vast sea of body of water, this is just this little speck, God looking down on it, so all those things are part of the construction of the space.

How do you integrate your past experience, given your work in theatre, design, and production, and translate it into something on a much smaller scale with this installation?

It has to do with the same concerns. How do I start? What is the first thing I hear? What is the first thing I see? What is the second thing? What is the last thing? And so it is time and space decisions which you make, and whether you are making an exhibition, or an opera, or ballet, or theatre, it is the same idea of constructing thoughts. I made the decision to make a space that was very calm, that allowed me to look closely at these jewels. But Heaven cannot exist without Hell. You have two hands, but there is one body, two sides of the brain, but there is one mind, so it is working with this duality as one, and that is the same whether you are making an opera or an installation.

You have done many different things across different genres. Have you ever felt like there was too much going on, or is it an inspiring way for you to work?

I do not think about work being work. I think it is a way of living. I do not think well, okay, now, I am going to wake up in the morning and I am going to go to work and then I am going to go home, I stop working and I am going to turn the TV on, and scratch the dog, and eat something, then I go to bed. To me, living is a way of being and thinking, and that is my work. I do not see so much difference between my work and living. It is all part of one thing. It is not like I go to an office, and then I go home, and it is finished. So, someone asked me yesterday, do you ever think about retiring? As long as I am living, I am thinking, I am working or… I guess I would retire if I am no longer breathing, but so far I have not stopped.

With the installation, you are integrating multimedia to create this multi-sensory experience for the audience. You have lights, you have sounds, you have these high-tech screens. What do you think about technology and its importance in helping you tell this story?

Yes, sure. I think that when we become mechanical, we become free, and we may learn to ride a bicycle, and the first time you try it, it is awkward, you are afraid of falling, maybe falling, but after a while you can ride the bicycle and you do not have to think about it. It is automatic, so I think that is freedom. I have a friend who is a ballet dancer, and I asked her a while ago how many ballets she knew. She said about 80. I asked her for one ballet what she does in a particular moment and she says that she has no idea, but when she is doing it, she knows, because the memory is in her muscle, and it is something automatic. So the mind is a muscle. I always loved when Andy Warhol said, “I want to be a machine”. Sometimes we are afraid of technology becoming mechanical, but I think that is freedom. My mother was very, very good at typing; she typed very rapidly. She said she liked to type because it gave her time to think.

Exhibition shot of ‘L'Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels’ at The Hôtel d'Évreux in Paris, France, from 3 to 26 September 2016. Image courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels.

Exhibition shot of ‘L’Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels’ at The Hôtel d’Évreux in Paris, France, from 3 to 26 September 2016. Image courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels.

What is the one thing you return to time and again when you work?

When you create buildings, as an architect, it is all about light, and how to introduce light, and things about sound. Most architects do not even consider sound. Six years ago, I went for almost two months to Latin America, North America, throughout Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, to architecture schools. And it was shocking, really shocking, that looking at the work of students, almost none of them were starting with light. That should be the first concern: as an architect, you start with light. Without light, there is no space, and I work in the theatre and it is shocking that people do the lighting two weeks before the premiere. I start with light. That is the first thing I do. The actors are there, but I work on the light, and the light would create the space, and then you can decide what to do in the space, and the light would completely change the space. The light, as Einstein said, is the measure of all things. Without it, there is absolutely no space. So start with light.

*A version of this article appears in Art Republik’s Mar-May ‘Crossover’ issue.

More information at vcaarchedenoe.hk.

VACHERON CONSTANTIN Overseas Small Model in pink gold; TORY BURCH Trocadero wrap dress

Tiara Shaw shows us how to accessorise for every occasion

A popular fixture in the local society scene, Tiara Shaw is much more than the charismatic other half of Shaw Organisation executive vice-president Mark Shaw. The mother of one currently splits her time working in real estate as a Savills Residential sales director, jetting around the world, attending film festivals and business trips with her husband, and managing her start-up boutique wellness-travel portal, Om & Away. Sassy and chic, Tiara shows us her flair in clever accessorising for any occasion about town.

Big on Bulgaribulgari-serpenti

BVLGARI Serpenti tubogas pink gold necklace and earrings with pavé-set diamond scales; BOTTEGA VENETA lurex and wool jacket and pants, soft lurex bra, lurex and viscose scarf, Tippie Mary Jane pumps

Statement Maker
The intense and vibrant deep green beauty of the emerald makes it one of my favourite gemstones

The intense and vibrant deep green beauty of the emerald makes it one of my favourite gemstones

CHOPARD Red Carpet collection necklace with a 95.89-carat heart-shaped emerald and 61.4 carats of diamonds, High Jewellery earclips with 8.96 and 7.5 carats of pear-shaped diamonds on each side surrounded by more diamonds, High Jewellery solitaire ring with a 14.36-carat D-colour, Internally Flawless marquise-cut diamond surrounded by more diamonds; MIU MIU velluto coat, cashmere vest

Chromatic Queencartier-galanterie-de-cartier

CARTIER Galanterie de
Cartier white gold earrings, ring with black lacquer and diamonds, Galanterie de Cartier white gold necklace and bracelet with black lacquer, onyx, and diamonds, Love white gold bracelet with ceramic and diamonds; BOTTEGA VENETA silk organdy dress with paillettes and Swarovski embroidery

Respect for Heritagepatek-philippe

PATEK PHILIPPE Ladies’ Annual Calendar Ref. 4948G in white gold with mother-of-pearl dial; DKNY notched collar fitted jacket

Very Versatilevan-cleef-arpels

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Bouton d’or pink gold necklace with diamonds, white mother-of-pearl, and carnelian, Perlée pink gold and diamonds ear studs, Perlée Couleurs pink gold between-the-finger ring with diamonds and carnelian; TORY BURCH Trocadero wrap dress

Winter Stylejaeger-lecoultre

JAEGER-LECOULTRE Reverso Classic Medium Duetto Ivy Red watch in pink gold with diamonds; CHAUMET Liens white gold necklace with an oval-cut ruby and diamonds, Joséphine Aube Printanière platinum ring with a pear-shaped ruby and diamonds; CH CAROLINA HERRERA wool coat and wool dress

Casual Elegancetiffany-co

TIFFANY & CO. Schlumberger Rope yellow gold and platinum two-row hoop earrings with diamonds, Schlumberger Rope yellow gold three-row X ring, Tiffany T yellow gold hinged wrap-bracelet with diamonds, Tiffany T yellow gold square bracelet; MONTBLANC Bohème Perpetual Calendar jewellery watch; CH CAROLINA HERRERA wool dress.


Text by Yanni Tan
Photography Assistance Alfred Phang
Styling Assistance Joey Tan
Studio Assistance Stills Network Team
Hair Sha Shamsi/Indigo Artisans, using L’Oréal Professional
Makeup Cheryl Ow/Indigo Artisans, using Parfums Christian Dior

Tiffany & Co. Masterpieces 2016 Prism pendant necklace in platinum with 
tsavorite garnets and diamonds

13 Birthstones: Benefits of precious gems and where to find them

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Chanel Fine Jewellery Les Éternelles de Chanel Signature Garnet secret watch in white gold with a 39.9-carat cushion-cut red garnet, yellow sapphires, orange sapphires, spessartite garnets, and diamonds.

Chanel Fine Jewellery Les Éternelles de Chanel Signature Garnet secret watch in white gold with a 39.9-carat cushion-cut red garnet, yellow sapphires, orange sapphires, spessartite garnets, and diamonds. It is a unique piece equipped with a quartz movement


Signifying eternal friendship and trust, the name garnet is derived from the Latin word “granatum”, which refers to the red seeds of the pomegranate. Apart from the red varieties, which were among the most ancient of healing talismans, garnet also comes in other colour types, the key ones being the orange-yellow spessartite and the bright green tsavorite.

Bvlgari Magnificent Inspirations Extravaganza necklace

Bvlgari Magnificent Inspirations Extravaganza necklace in pink gold with 12 sassi-cut amethysts totalling 344.25 carats, South Sea cultured pearls, emeralds, 
amethysts, spinels, and diamonds


Historically coveted by European royalty by virtue of its intoxicating purple and rarity then, the ever-popular amethyst was also used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to keep the wearer sober, sharp, and restraint. In fact, its name derives from the Greek word “amethystos”, which means “not drunken”.

Tiffany & Co. Blue Book collection Water Colours three-strand necklace

Tiffany & Co. Blue Book collection Water Colours three-strand necklace in platinum with 
a 52.80-carat cushion-cut aquamarine, tanzanites, green tourmalines, aquamarines, 
and diamonds


Named for the Latin phrase “water of the sea”, the ethereal aquamarine was believed by the ancients to be the treasure of the mermaids, and by sailors as a talisman for protection and safe passage over water. The gem was also used to dispel gossip, and imbue the owner with a sense of
calm and confidence.

Cartier Magicien Illumination bracelet in white gold with one 31.16-carat D-colour, internally flawless emerald-cut diamond

Cartier Magicien Illumination bracelet in white gold with one 31.16-carat D-colour, internally flawless emerald-cut diamond, other diamonds in various cuts, and carved rock crystal.
The main diamond can be worn on a ring or replaced by a pavé diamond motif


Adopted from the Greek work “adamas”, meaning “invincible”, diamond is symbolic of eternal love and strength today. The gem was referenced in Sanskrit texts as early as 400BC, and since antiquity, believed by various cultures to possess powers that range from therapy and healing, energy-boosting, to imparting balance and clarity of thought.

Van Cleef & Arpels Émeraude en Majesté Grand Opus transformable necklace

Van Cleef & Arpels Émeraude en Majesté Grand Opus transformable necklace in white gold with three old-mine Colombian emeralds (two are shown here) totalling 127.88 carats, diamonds, and white cultured pearls


Emerald was a holy gemstone for many early civilisations, including the Egyptians and South Americans, and also revered by ancient royalty spanning the Greeks to Indians. A symbol of renewal and growth, the gem is believed to grant the owner youth, vision, and wisdom. Its name was derived from the Greek word “smaragdus”, for green.

Chaumet La Nature de Chaumet Le Chêne Racines Célestes transformable necklace

Chaumet La Nature de Chaumet Le Chêne Racines Célestes transformable necklace in white gold with an oval-cut pink spinel, cultured freshwater pearls, spinels, pink sapphires, and diamonds. This is the short version of the original long necklace that has a total of seven pink and violet spinels weighing 10.94, 8.40, 6.81, 6.80, 6.53, 5.29, and 1.87 carats


Probably the first gem discovered by mankind to be used for adornment, pearl boasts a long and interesting legacy of mythical importance in countless civilisations, including the Romans and Tudors. Its natural form, colour, and radiance endowed it with a celestial quality, and it has become symbolic of innocence, purity, and virtue in modern history.

Chopard Red Carpet collection High Jewellery Necklace

Chopard Red Carpet collection High Jewellery Necklace with 33 cushion-shaped rubies 
totalling 64.12 carats, diamonds, and rubies of various cuts


Symbolising passion, vitality, and wealth, the blood-red ruby was so fascinating and visceral in appeal to historical nobility, from Kublai Khan to the Indian maharajahs, that their obsession with it was the stuff of legends. Named from the Latin word “ruber” for “red”, the legendary gem is one of the oldest associated with royalty, and remains sought-after to this day.

Chanel Fine Jewellery Les Blés de Chanel Brins de Printemps earrings

Chanel Fine Jewellery Les Blés de Chanel Brins de Printemps earrings in white gold with 
two marquise-cut peridots totalling 10.4 carats, other peridots, green tourmalines, aquamarines, and diamonds


Called chrysolite in early writings, peridot was believed to wield powers against nightmares and the dark forces, and bring the wearer influence and success. Named from the Arabic word “faridat” for “gem”, it is the national gemstone of Egypt as it was first discovered nearly 4,000 years ago on an Egypt-owned island in the Red Sea, where stones were mined for the kings.

Cartier Magicien Incantation necklace

Cartier Magicien Incantation necklace in platinum with one 22.84-carat cushion-cut
Sri Lankan blue sapphire and diamonds. The necklace can be worn inverted along 
its radius and the sapphire may be fitted onto a ring


The sky blue colour of sapphire endowed it with a divine quality, and naturally, it became a royal gem for many cultures tracing back to the Middle Ages. Since then, it has been associated with numerous virtues that range from devotion and loyalty, to wisdom, justice, and prophecy. Its name has roots in Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit, meaning “blue stone”.

Louis Vuitton Blossom High Jewellery ring in white gold with a 2.9-carat indicolite tourmaline set onto a 5.05-carat petal-shaped opal along with diamonds

Louis Vuitton Blossom High Jewellery ring in white gold with a 2.9-carat indicolite tourmaline set onto a 5.05-carat petal-shaped opal along with diamonds


Referring to its play-of-colour property, opal’s name was derived from the Greek word “opallos”, which means “to see a change of colour”. Its stunning visual quality led it to become a talisman for strengthening both one’s eyesight and higher consciousness.

Boucheron 26 Vendôme Passementerie necklace in pink and white gold with one 2.02-carat oval cabochon pink tourmaline, five rubellites totalling 35.53 carats, spessartite garnets, multi-cut pink tourmalines, multi-colour sapphires, diamonds, and a rock crystal

Boucheron 26 Vendôme Passementerie necklace in pink and white gold with one 2.02-carat oval cabochon pink tourmaline, five rubellites totalling 35.53 carats, spessartite garnets, multi-cut pink tourmalines, multi-colour sapphires, diamonds, and a rock crystal


Also a birthstone for October, tourmaline is historically associated with matters of the heart, and stands for humanitarian love and positivity. The gem’s name, born of the old Sinhalese word “turmali” for “mixed colours”, reflects its many attractive colour varieties.

Chanel Fine Jewellery Sous le Signe du Lion Solaire brooch in white gold with with a 123.5-carat carved yellow citrine, a 7.8-carat cushion-cut orange topaz, 
diamonds, and yellow sapphires

Chanel Fine Jewellery Sous le Signe du Lion Solaire brooch in white gold with
with a 123.5-carat carved yellow citrine, a 7.8-carat cushion-cut orange topaz, 
diamonds, and yellow sapphires

Topaz & Citrine

A gemstone with many colour varieties, topaz was prized in antiquity, with the opulent orangey-pink stone hailed as the imperial topaz by the Russian tsars. It is supposed to possess a warm and gentle solar energy, and helps to soothe, stimulate, and recharge the owner. Because the yellow-orange topaz was historically thought to be the same as citrine, the latter has also come to be known as November’s birthstone too. Regarded as the “healing quartz”, it is believed to have a healthful, encouraging influence.

Bulgari Magnificent Inspirations Fiore ingenuo High Jewellery necklace in white gold 
with carved turquoise inserts, one 9.39-carat trillion-cut tanzanite, diamonds, 
moonstones, and blue sapphires

Bulgari Magnificent Inspirations Fiore ingenuo High Jewellery necklace in white gold 
with carved turquoise inserts, one 9.39-carat trillion-cut tanzanite, diamonds, 
moonstones, and blue sapphires


Another gem that pre-dates written history is turquoise, which was revered as an ornamental and ceremonial stone, especially in ancient Persian, Egyptian, and American civilisations. Its name came from the French expression “pierre tourques”, meaning “Turkish stone”, as it was first traded from Persia through Turkey to Europe in the 17th century.

Text by Yanni Tan

This article was first published in WOW.

L’Arche De Noé Racontée Par Van Cleef & Arpels

Nature plays a big role in Van Cleef & Arpels new high jewelry collection, “L’Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels” for 2016. From the rich tropics to the lush countryside, the French jeweler brings to life various animals that inhabit the earth.

From giraffes to monkeys and parrots, the new collection is one that pays tribute to the animal kingdom with a range of clips and brooches that are reinterpreted in more than 60 variations. The animals come in couples and are decorated in various gemstone, which help to showcase the creativity and savoir-faire that Van Cleef & Arpels is known for.l-arche-de-noe-raconteepar-van-cleef-arpels-2

To present the world with the high jewelry collection, the brand hired Robert Wilson, a famed American set designer to design the scenography of the collection. With Noah’s Ark as the inspiration, the set designer set out to create a concept that is both mesmerizing and representative of the collection. “The concept of staging sixty or so animal pairs in connection with Noah’s Ark originates from a painting by Jan Brueghel the Elder exhibited at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles” explains Nicolas Bos, CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels.l-arche-de-noe-raconteepar-van-cleef-arpels-3

To create the set on which the collection is featured, Robert Wilson imagined a great black box lined with jewel cases that represented the inside of the Ark. As visitors explore the collection, they are taken on a journey that tells the tale of preserving paradise.

Top Jewelers Exit Paris Biennale des Antiquaires

Winds of change are blowing in the world of art, antiques and jewelry. Heralded as one of the world’s most important such fairs, the Paris Biennale des Antiquaires will see its last run as a biannual event and, we presume, its last as the Paris Biennale des Antiquaires. Come 2017, the art event will be reinvented as an annual event (although admittedly, Paris Annuale des Antiquaires doesn’t have as nice a ring to it).

Even so, this year’s event will see a 30 percent increase in size, with a minimum of 113 galleries from 12 countries, making it the year’s largest such event. The mantra is go big or go home, and that is exactly what some of the world’s top jewelers did, according to the reports we are seeing, following on the heels of Cartier’s announcement that it would stay away earlier this year .

Event organizers Syndicat National des Antiquaires’ renewed focus on antiques sat badly with many high jewelers, leading to the exodus,. Seriously, it is a veritable Jexit. Among these are familiar names such as Chaumet, Piaget, Van Cleef & Arpels (whose image from the ongoing Art and Science of Gems exhibition at MBS Singapore is showcased top), Boucheron and Bulgari, dramatically thinning out the ranks of high jewelry exhibitors. In fact, just four remain. It says a lot that this year’s largest accessory brand is first-time exhibitor Cindy Chao. The fair also marks her inaugural public exhibition.

Nevertheless, this year also marks the first historical non-selling timepiece exhibit by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), so at least there’s a twist here. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because the FHH are the organizers of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie and actually represent the entire Richemont Group; Richemont is the parent company of Cartier, Piaget and Van Cleef & Arpels, among others.

The Paris Biennale des Antiquaires will open September 10 at the Grand Palais, and will be held for nine days. For more information, visit the website here.

Christie’s: Joan Rivers Private Collection Auction

Fans of the late host and television personality Joan Rivers, will soon have the chance to own several personal pieces from her Manhattan Penthouse. On June 22, Christies will be holding an auction featuring an assortment of 200 items from the woman whose personality was larger than life.

Proceeds of the auction will go towards “God’s Love We Deliver” and “Guide Dogs For The Blind” — both charities that Rivers held close to her heart. A connoisseur of decorative arts, paintings and fine French furniture, Rivers’ personal items are expected to go under the hammer where prices will range from $500 to $200,000. One such piece, is the Edouard Vuillard painting Dans L’Atelier, circa 1915 ($120,000 – $180,000). Other items to look out for include a jewelled Nephrite study of a Lily of the Valley leaf by Fabergé ($200,000 – $300,000) and a silver water bowl from Tiffany & Co., engraved with “for Spike” ($500 – $ 800) that she had bought for her beloved dog.

Before the auction at Christie’s however, the auction house will also be hosting an online auction from June 16 – 23. During the online sale, unique costumes made by Bob Mackie, couture and personal jewelry from jewelers such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels as well as Harry Winston will be available. For someone as opinionated as Rivers, with a taste for the finer things in life, this sale will certainly not disappoint.

“My mother’s legacy as a much loved comedienne and philanthropist will be commemorated in this collaboration with Christie’s and her generosity to charitable causes is something I will continue in her honor” said her daughter Melissa Rivers.

Cullinan Dream Blue Diamond to Sell at Christie’s

Set as the centerpiece for an upcoming sale by Christie’s, the Cullinan Dream is the largest Fancy Intense Blue diamond offered to be offered on auction (capital letters used there as Fancy Intense Blue is the technical term). It comes with an estimated value of $23 – $29 million and stands as a part of 260 lots (selling alongside jewelry by companies such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, and Cartier) offered for the Magnificent Jewels And The Cullinan Dream auction on June 9. This auction is one of many such jewelry sales across all the majors at this time.

The Cullinan Dream is one of four diamonds cut from the 122.52 carat blue diamond that Petra Diamonds discovered in their South African Cullinan mine. It is a cut-cornered rectangular mixed-cut diamond of approximately 24.18 carats mounted on a platinum ring. The gem was rated as Type IIb by the Gemological Institute of America, which attests to its rarity.

“The success of the Oppenheimer Blue speaks to the international demand and market value of these exemplary colored diamonds and with the Cullinan Dream, Christie’s is proud to present another opportunity for collectors to acquire a rare gem being offered for the first time at auction” noted Rahul Kadakia, Christie’s International Head of Jewelry, making reference to an earlier sale made on May 18 in Geneva.

Petra Diamonds themselves have produced some of the most exemplary blue diamonds in the world. As a part of the sale, they’ll receive 15% share of the proceeds, after expenses.

You can check out more information on the sale over at Christie’s website.

Van Cleef & Arpels 
Midnight Nuit Lumineuse

Since its debut in 2006, Van Cleef & Arpels’s Poetic Complications collection has been defined by the creative display of time using purpose-built complications. The maison’s unique blend of artistic and technical savoir faire has created several icons over the years; who could forget the Lady Arpels Pont des Amoureux, which depicts a rendezvous between two lovers on a bridge using a bi-retrograde module? Or the Midnight Planetarium, whose dial reproduces the orbits of our solar system’s inner six planets, and their actual positions vis-à-vis each other? Indicating the time poetically continues this year with the Midnight Nuit Lumineuse, a time-only watch that, quite expectedly, does more than just that.

The Midnight Nuit Lumineuse indicates the time with a single retrograde hand that sweeps from six to 12 o’clock. Design wise, the watch clearly means to evoke a nocturnal view of the heavens, beginning with a dial of aventurine that mimics the night sky. Upon this canvas, the maison has drawn a star chart showing various constellations through miniature painting and diamond setting. The most eye-catching among them is obviously Monoceros the unicorn, which appears as an array of six diamonds set in a detailed drawing at four o’clock. Far from being just the biggest and most detailed constellation on the dial, Monoceros is also its highlight – literally. Actuating the pusher at eight o’clock brings the unicorn to life, as its six diamonds are each backlit by a single Light Emitting Diode (LED).

The electricity powering these LEDs isn’t from a battery. Rather, the lighting module within the watch relies on piezoelectricity, which is generated by some materials when they are mechanically stressed. In this case, a cantilevered ceramic blade functions as the ‘turbine’ – pressing on the pusher makes it vibrate, and the physical deformation from its flexing to and fro generates the current to power the LEDs for around four seconds.

According to Van Cleef & Arpels, the lighting system in the Midnight Nuit Lumineuse holds much potential for further development. The type and cut of the gemstone used, for example, will affect its color and brilliance. The specifics of the circuitry, on the other hand, will determine the brightness and number of LEDs used, and whether they can be flashed in any pattern or sequence. For now, the lighting module is the subject of a patent application for the maison.


  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Functions: Retrograde hours, light on-demand
  • Power Reserve: 40 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding
  • Material: White gold
  • Water resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Black alligator with ardillon buckle in white gold

Story Credits

Text by Jamie Tan

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Christie’s Auctions Jewels from Princess Gabriela

It is not every day one can stand a chance to own jewelry that once belonged to royalty. On May 18, Christie’s will give you that opportunity with the sale of exquisite jewels that include several from the collection of H.S.H Gabriela Princess zu Leiningen. The former spouse of the current Aga Khan is letting go of a few memorable and personal pieces that were gifted to her by her second husband (The first being the Prince of Leiningen, hence her title). Before the sale however, the jewels will be on display in Geneva from May 13; the collection is currently making its way to New York as part of a tour.

The Pohl diamond, 36.09 carats

The Pohl diamond, 36.09 carats

“Sophisticated and classically beautiful, H.S.H Gabriela Princess zu Leiningen’s extensive collection is a true reflection of its owner. A woman of charisma, wisdom, elegance and above all joy” said François Curiel. The Chairman of Christie’s Asia Pacific added “ Each jewel represents a special moment in her life and the happiness she experienced at the time. We are honored to present superb jewels from her collection and extend to all the wonderful karma it brings.”

The Princess Colombian emerald and diamond necklace, by Cartier, the pendant weighing 39.70 carats.

The Princess Colombian emerald and diamond necklace, by Cartier, the pendant weighing 39.70 carats.

The 46 lots set to go under the hammer in Geneva are estimated to be worth over $15 million. Bidders can expect to see spectacular items from Cartier, Boucheron, Tiffany & Co. and Van Cleef & Arpels. We highlight several key pieces that will certainly excite any avid jewelry collector. The first is the Pohl Diamond. What makes this 36-carat diamond so special is that it was the very first significant diamond that was polished in America (most diamonds are polished in Europe, India or Israel) before it was sold to the Chrysler family in 1943. Having been mined nearly a decade earlier as a 287-carat rough stone, the diamond came into the possession of the princess in 1998 and is now estimated to be worth $3.8 — 5.5 million.

The cultured pearl, diamond and yellow diamond fringe necklace

The cultured pearl, diamond and yellow diamond fringe necklace

The next is a creation by Cartier that would make any woman swoon. The diamond and emerald necklace features a 40-carat Colombian emerald. Worth somewhere between $2.5 — 3.5 million, the necklace with the matching earrings was worn at the official dinner that followed the wedding of Prince Felipe of Spain and Letizia Ortiz back in 2004. The other highlight in the collection is the cultured pearl and diamond fringe necklace. Its owner before coming into the possession of the princess was her former husband’s grandmother, Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan. Upon entering her enviable collection of jewelry, a matching pair of ear pendants and a bangle was commissioned from Van Cleef & Arpels to make a complete parure.

The "Persepolis" necklace

The “Persepolis” necklace

Other pieces that will certainly get your attention, include a suite of emerald, diamond and pearl jewelry from Cartier, an elegant five strand pearl and diamond necklace as well as the “Persepolis” necklace and pair of “Persane” earrings. With graduated emerald bead drops and a larger emerald beat pendant suspended, the suite also features a briolette-cut diamond and oval cabochon emerald surmount. The five strand pearl necklace is made up of nearly 500 natural pearls and daimond roundel spacers.With emeralds, diamonds and sapphires of several cuts, the “Persepolis” neckalce and “Persane” earrings are a set that certainly cannot be missed.

The elegant five strand pearl and diamond necklace

The elegant five strand pearl and diamond necklace

“Aside from their beauty, many of these jewels bare a compelling history of their own” said the Princess. She added “To me they embody wonderful and loving personal memories as well as exciting chapters of my life, full of color, travel and encounters. They have brought me great joy and happiness. Now I wish their journey to continue, bringing joy and happiness to their new owners.”

The sale will be held on May 18, 7pm at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva. For more information on the auction, visit Christie’s.

Art, Science, Gems and Lunch with Van Cleef & Arpels

Having just had lunch with Cate Blanchett and looked at more jewelry and raw gemstones than most humans ever have, I can say without reservation that Friday last was indeed well spent. For a watch and jewelry specialist like me, having a go at more than 400 pieces from Van Cleef & Arpels and looking at the raw materials, courtesy of the French National Museum of Natural History, is a real treat. In case you are a regular curious George about such matters, you can give yourself this very same treat (minus Ms. Blanchet) by heading over to The Art and Science of Gems exhibition at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands.

First of all, let us address the Cate Blanchett matter. Ms. Blanchett was a guest of Van Cleef & Arpels at the launch and she stayed on for lunch, where she entertained the press by posing for pictures with them. Pro tip: Ms. Blanchett prefers to have her picture taken as opposed to grabbing a selfie. Her dedication cannot be overstated: she arrived that day and left that night. Considering that the entire event, including lunch took upwards of five hours, I was impressed; if this wasn’t about jewelry, even I would have gotten fidgety.

Malachite from Tourtscheninowski, Ural mountains, Russia. MNHN Collection Paris

On that note, what is really impressive about The Art and Science of Gems exhibition are the natural pieces on display. Unless you have spent time in a mine somewhere, it is simply not possible to see the raw forms of the gemstones that a jeweler like Van Cleef & Arpels selects and carves into astounding forms. Take malachite for example, which is an important part of Van Cleef & Arpel’s offerings. This image of the exhibit (above) just goes to show that the raw form is every bit as impressive as the finished product. The image of opals below will also do the trick.

White noble opal massive and two cabochons. Queensland, Australia. MNHN Collection, Paris

On other hand, there are also exhibits of ancient rock (4 billion years old!) and a giant quartz crystal to illustrate the depth (literally) of the mineral wealth of our planet. Of particular importance is an exhibit of a meteorite studded with peridots. Yes, some of our mineral wealth comes from outer space, including – as it happens – all the gold that we use. The gold that formed with our planet sank to the core, being so dense. That bit of trivia will make you a hit at all the jewelry-themed galas you might attend.

Now some will find all this a chore but it is one thing to read a screed like this one and quite another to immerse yourself in the beautiful environs of the exhibition. It will allow you to feel the value of the gemstones and materials on display, and even the ones that might be decorating your person right now. On that note, here is an image of Ms. Blanchett posing among the exhibits to inspire you.

Cate viewing 'The Art & Science of Gems' exhibition at the ArtScience Museum © Allen Tan

As for the jewelry itself, be warned that you may be stunned into disbelief. Take the image most associated with this exhibition, the Bird and Pendant clip once owned by Polish opera singer Ganna Walska. The briolette-cut yellow diamond – a mind-numbing 96.62 carats – is the star attraction of course but the piece in itself, transformable into a pendant and earrings, just takes your breath away.

Believe it or not, that is not most amazing crafted object on display. We recommend taking some time to discover the minaudieres and the mystery setting pioneered by Van Cleef & Arpels. Of course, it goes without saying that you should look out for the zip creations, which the maison developed for the Duchess of Windsor, the infamous Wallis Simpson. The zip necklace is today inextricably linked to the heritage of Van Cleef & Arpels.

Something we do not have an image of but you need to see to believe, is a shaped ruby sphere that is roughly 10,000 carats. Yes, that is not a typo, we did not add a zero. It is about the size of a croquet ball or about half the size of a bowling ball. Find out more about the exhibition here.


Van Cleef & Arpels: Art and Science of Gems

On April 23, Van Cleef & Arpels will be bringing some of its best creations to the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. Titled Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art and Science of Gems, the exhibition will bring guests on a journey of more than 400 creations from the jeweler and 250 minerals from the French National Museum of Natural History collection.

This is actually the largest ever heritage exhibition organized by the Parisian jeweler; it documents more than a century of the firm’s history. With pieces from the Maison’s archive collection, and on loan from private collectors from around the world, it blends art, craft, history and geoscience with the characteristics associated with the jeweler’s rich heritage.Van-Cleef-Flying-Bird-Pendant

The exhibition will follow seven themes: couture, abstractions, influences, precious objects, nature, ballerinas and fairies as well as icons. One of the most striking pieces that will be on display is the Bird and Clip pendant that was once owned by Polish opera singer Ganna Walska. Set in gold and featuring emeralds, sapphire along with yellow and white diamonds, the flying bird is seen carrying a detachable briolette-cut yellow diamond measuring 96.62 carats. Check out our follow-up story, after viewing the exhibition.

For more information about the Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art and Science of Gems Exhibition click here.

In Pictures: 9 High Jewelry Pieces to Inspire

Born out of the most imaginative minds, set with spectacular gems mined from the furthest corners of the earth and engineered by the nimblest hands, the high jewelry collections you’re about to see will, quite literally, take your breath away. Our friends at L’Officiel Singapore curated and shot this selection to celebrate their ninth anniversary in 2016.

Tiffany & Co.

Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. Arrows 18k gold clip with amethysts, diamonds and sapphires.

Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. Arrows 18k gold clip with amethysts, diamonds and sapphires.

The New York label calls this one of late French jeweller Jean Schlumberger’s most brilliant designs for the house. Handcrafted by artisans, it was, in 2014, made a part of the Blue Book, an annual high jewelry collection celebrating the setting of flawless diamonds and coloured gemstones in Tiffany & Co.’s present-day creations. A large 20.06-carat amethyst sits in the middle of the unique clip, while 18k gold arrows appear to pierce through its fully-pavéd heart.



From top: Signature Morganite white gold secret watch with diamonds and morganite, and Les Éternelles de Chanel white gold secret watch with diamonds and pink sapphires.

From top: Signature Morganite white gold secret watch with diamonds and morganite, and Les Éternelles de Chanel white gold secret watch with diamonds and pink sapphires.

What appear to be cuff bracelets are in fact secret watches, each designed after things – namely, the camellia, the comet and the feather – that inspired late founder Gabrielle Chanel. This year, the Parisian house adds a fourth piece to its Les Éternelles de Chanel collection, which, through a neat pattern of diamond-set squares, tells the story of the star quilting technique that Chanel has long been known for. At the heart of the ticker sits a 43.66-carat pink morganite pyramid that, when pressed, reveals a small, elegant dial.



Giardini Italiani white gold earrings with brilliant-cut diamonds and Colombian emeralds, and Giardini Italiani white gold convertible necklace-brooch with brilliant-cut diamonds and rubies.

Giardini Italiani white gold earrings with brilliant-cut diamonds and Colombian emeralds, and Giardini Italiani white gold convertible necklace-brooch with brilliant-cut diamonds and rubies.

In this staggering collection are 100 beautiful one-of-a-kind interpretations of what you’d find in an Italian Renaissance garden. Aptly named Giardini Italiani or, Italian Gardens, the Roman house’s latest high jewelry collection has reimagined Colombian emeralds, brilliant-cut diamonds, pink spinels and even a 400-carat Sri Lankan sapphire, among other precious stones, as romantic flower beds, geometric hedges and water cascading off decadent fountains.



High Jewelry Collection white gold and titanium brooch with amethysts, emeralds, Paraiba tourmalines, spinels, tsavorites and rubies.

High Jewelry Collection white gold and titanium brooch with amethysts, emeralds, Paraiba tourmalines, spinels, tsavorites and rubies.

A year after joining the French Couture Federation as jeweller, Chopard has unveiled three unique cuff bracelets handcrafted by artisans in its Geneva Haute Joaillerie ateliers. Our top pick: an ingenious piece that the Swiss maison describesx as “a flight towards spring” – it sports a pair of transformable, iridescent butterflies decked in precious stones. The first has wings that double as earrings while the second detaches to become a brooch.



Clockwise: Granville Tourmaline Verte yellow gold ring with beryls, diamonds, iolites, spessartite garnet, red spinels, rubellite and tourmalines, Granville Peridot yellow gold ring with diamonds, mandarin garnets, peridot, sapphires, and tourmalines, and Granville Tourmaline Verte pink gold ring with aquamarines, chrysoberyls, diamonds, pink spinels, spessartite garnets and tourmalines.

Clockwise: Granville Tourmaline Verte yellow gold ring with beryls, diamonds, iolites, spessartite garnet, red spinels, rubellite and tourmalines, Granville Peridot yellow gold ring with diamonds, mandarin garnets, peridot, sapphires, and tourmalines, and Granville Tourmaline Verte pink gold ring with aquamarines, chrysoberyls, diamonds, pink spinels, spessartite garnets and tourmalines.

Here, Monsieur Dior’s growing up years in Granville on the coast of Normandy were the source of inspiration. Head of fine jewelry Victoire de Castellane captures the playful spirit of childhood games in 12 one-of-a-kind creations. According to the designer, colorful cuts of her favorite stones – aquamarine, beryl, chrysoberyl, rubellite, tanzanite and tourmaline – are arranged with “a sense of equilibrium” in asymmetrical patterns, so no one shade dominates the other.


Louis Vuitton

Excelsior white gold ring with diamonds and indigolite tourmalines.

Excelsior white gold ring with diamonds and indigolite tourmalines.

Fluid lines of ’30s Streamline Moderne make a sensual comeback in Acte V/The Escape, Louis Vuitton’s sixth high jewelry collection. Rounded silhouettes borrowed from aeronautics and the hulls of transatlantic steamships are incorporated into the collection, which feature vibrant-color gems (including a 32-carat Paraiba tourmaline and 30-carat Australian Lightning Ridge opal) and a specially-reworked, softer version of the French house’s signature “V” motif.


Van Cleef & Arpels

Spanish Ballerina platinum and gold clip with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, and Ballerina platinum brooch with diamonds, emeralds and rubies.

Spanish Ballerina platinum and gold clip with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, and Ballerina platinum brooch with diamonds, emeralds and rubies.

Born out of Louis Arpels’ passion for dance, many of the Parisian jeweler’s creations feature ballerinas as recurring icons. First shown in New York in the ’40s, ballerina clips – adorned in precious headdresses and tutus composed of colored gems – were a hit with collectors, who were besotted with the elegant costumes and graceful poses. A specially curated selection will be displayed at the Art Science Museum from April 23 to August 14 as part of Van Cleef & Arpels’ The Art & Science of Gems exhibition.



Hirunda the Swallows white gold earrings with diamonds and black lacquer, and Chinha the Eagle white gold ring with diamonds, sapphires and a cabochon tanzanite.

Hirunda the Swallows white gold earrings with diamonds and black lacquer, and Chinha the Eagle white gold ring with diamonds, sapphires and a cabochon tanzanite.

Rich in virtues – bravery, hope and peace – and lavish in build, with no surface left unset, animal-inspired jewel talismans are touted by Boucheron as both precious and protective companions, and have been a part of its emblematic lines since 1858. This year, the French jeweler’s ever-growing Animaux de Collection (it currently features 20 creatures) welcomes a new member, Chinha the eagle, whose regality is translated as an oversized white gold ring anchored with a large cabochon tanzanite.



Lumières d’Eau platinum and white gold necklace with frosted rock crystals and diamonds.

Lumières d’Eau platinum and white gold necklace with frosted rock crystals and diamonds.

Divided into 12 sets, a number recalling the address of Chaumet’s Place Vendôme boutique, the Lumières d’Eau collection exquisitely expresses water in its various states. White Ethiopian opals, pearls, lapis lazuli and emeralds conjure vivid images of gleaming lights on the South Seas, the soft tones of the aurora borealis and crashing waves under an aquamarine sky. A highlight of the high jewelry collection, this piece – featuring blocks of diamond-set and frosted rock crystals on a sleek collar necklace – depicts icicles, and embodies the frozen strength of water.

Story Credits
Text by Kenny Loh
Art Direction by Stephanie Lim
Digital Imaging by c.w.

This article was originally published in L’Officiel Singapore