Tag Archives: Van Cleef & Arpels

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.

Credits:

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

Add text.

January
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

Garnet

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.

February
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

Amethyst

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”.

March
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

Aquamarine

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.

April
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

Diamond

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.

May
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

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.

June
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

Pearl

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.

July
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

Ruby

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.

August
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

Peridot

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.

September
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

Sapphire

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”.

October
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

Opal

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.

October
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

Tourmaline

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.

November
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.

December
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

Turquoise

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.

Specs

  • 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-Zip-Necklace-LOfficiel

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.

 

Chanel

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.

 

Bulgari

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.

 

Chopard

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.

 

Dior

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.

 

Boucheron

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.

 

Chaumet

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

In Pictures: Many Facets of Iroshini Chua

Dr Iroshini Chua wears many hats as a mother of two, family physician, travel columnist, high society fixture, party planner, accomplished home chef, charity crusader, style influencer, among others. The multi-hyphenate is also well known for her good taste in accessories and her love of gemstones. She has designed jewelry as a hobby business in the past, and is planning to launch her own brand in the near future. We asked her to share a few secrets on how she balances style and comfort so effortlessly.

Hostess With The Mostest

Special thanks to The St. Regis Singapore for hosting the photo shoot at its lavishly appointed Presidential Suite, which features a master bedroom, living room, dining room, executive office, gym, and terrace. Displayed on the premises are prized artworks by masters including Marc Chagall, Mark Tobey, Le Pho, and Sam Francis. Hand-painted silk panels adorn the walls, while custom-made Czech crystal chandeliers cast a warm glow. Other highlights include a luxurious bedroom and a beautiful master bathroom with its own Jacuzzi and separate jet massage shower with marble steam chamber.

Special thanks to The St. Regis Singapore for hosting the photo shoot at its lavishly appointed Presidential Suite, which features a master bedroom, living room, dining room, executive office, gym, and terrace. Displayed on the premises are prized artworks by masters including Marc Chagall, Mark Tobey, Le Pho, and Sam Francis. Hand-painted silk panels adorn the walls, while custom-made Czech crystal chandeliers cast a warm glow. Other highlights include a luxurious bedroom and a beautiful master bathroom with its own Jacuzzi and separate jet massage shower with marble steam chamber.

Van Cleef & Arpels Magic Alhambra one-motif white gold and diamond long necklace, Perlée white gold hoop earrings, Cadenas white gold and diamond watch; Emporio Armani embroidered cotton-mix pleated dress.

Career Woman

Christian Dior La Mini D de Dior 19mm watch, Rose Dior Pré Catalan pink gold and amethyst necklace, earrings, and ring, polyamide-mix pleated dress.

Christian Dior La Mini D de Dior 19mm watch, Rose Dior Pré Catalan pink gold and amethyst necklace, earrings, and ring, polyamide-mix pleated dress.

“I like wearing timeless and feminine clothes and jewelry that can easily take me from the clinic to an evening engagement.”

Mummy Duty

The Presidential Suite is part of The St. Regis Singapore’s Suite Society programme, which also features the Manhattan, Metropolitan, Knickerbocker, Astoria, and King Cole Suites. Guests who book them are offered exclusive access to exceptional dining and lifestyle privileges.

The Presidential Suite is part of The St. Regis Singapore’s Suite Society program, which also features the Manhattan, Metropolitan, Knickerbocker, Astoria, and King Cole Suites. Guests who book them are offered exclusive access to exceptional dining and lifestyle privileges.

Audemars Piguet Ladies Royal Oak Self-winding 37mm diamond watch; Chanel pearl sautoir; Iroshini’s own pearl and diamond ring; Christian Dior printed cotton-knit top and viscose-mix skirt.

Jet-setter

Available across all St. Regis properties around the world, the St. Regis Aficionado programme provides guests with exceptional bespoke experiences, such as private access to the world’s premier lifestyle collections and auctions, tasting rare private vintages, and getting a custom-tailored garment made.

Available across all St. Regis properties around the world, the St. Regis Aficionado programme provides guests with exceptional bespoke experiences, such as private access to the world’s premier lifestyle collections and auctions, tasting rare private vintages, and getting a custom-tailored garment made.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Small Model 33mm watch with diamonds; Iroshini’s own yellow sapphire ring, blue sapphire earrings; Ondademar silk kimono, cotton camisole, woven hat, heels.

“I love to discover new destinations, and I holiday at resorts about eight to 10 times a year. I don’t believe one should eschew style for comfort or vice-versa. This resort outfit is my perfect solution as it is comfortable for lounging by the pool as well as a chic ensemble for the restaurants. Matching it well is this Vacheron Constantin watch, which is so versatile and offers a pop of color.”

Lady Of Leisure

Chopard L’Heure du Diamant collection white gold necklace with 4.85 carats of diamonds, High Jewellery white gold ring with 13.6 carats of yellow diamonds and 1.28 carats of white diamonds, High Jewellery white gold and diamond ear studs; Diane von Furstenberg appliqué cotton-mix dress; Wedgwood Daisy Tea Story teacup and saucer set.

Chopard L’Heure du Diamant collection white gold necklace with 4.85 carats of diamonds, High Jewellery white gold ring with 13.6 carats of yellow diamonds and 1.28 carats of white diamonds, High Jewellery white gold and diamond ear studs; Diane von Furstenberg appliqué cotton-mix dress; Wedgwood Daisy Tea Story teacup and saucer set.

“I believe that diamonds can be beautifully paired with a busy print or loud colors to pull an entire look together without competing with them. This way, each can be admired in its own right.”

Belle Of The Ball

Home to one of the finest private art collections in Southeast Asia, The St. Regis Singapore offers exclusive access to museum-quality art. The collection showcases over 70 original works of art, including sculptures, paintings, and prints by internationally renowned artists. Hotel guests are invited to partake in The Art of Living tour around the hotel, conducted by the hotel butlers at 6pm daily.

Home to one of the finest private art collections in Southeast Asia, The St. Regis Singapore offers exclusive access to museum-quality art. The collection showcases over 70 original works of art, including sculptures, paintings, and prints by internationally renowned artists. Hotel guests are invited to partake in The Art of Living tour around the hotel, conducted by the hotel butlers at 6pm daily.

Piaget Extremely Piaget white gold ear cuff with 3.19 carats of diamonds and 12.76 carats of blue sapphires, Extremely Piaget white gold necklace with diamonds totalling 52.43 carats, a 20.06-carat cushion-cut sapphire, and a 7.35-carat pear-shaped blue sapphire, Limelight white gold secret watch with Polynesian mother-of-pearl and 506 multi-cut diamonds totaling 76.24 carats; Iroshini’s own Tex Saverio silk-mix laser-cut applique tiered gown; Jimmy Choo red suede clutch.

Party Princess

At The St. Regis Singapore, all guests have access to the signature St. Regis Butler Service, which includes food and beverage requests, unpacking and packing of luggage, garment pressing, and the e-butler option for access to the butler service, from within or outside the hotel, at any hour 
via e-mail.

At The St. Regis Singapore, all guests have access to the signature St. Regis Butler Service, which includes food and beverage requests, unpacking and packing of luggage, garment pressing, and the e-butler option for access to the butler service, from within or outside the hotel, at any hour 
via e-mail.

Cartier Panthère Captive de Cartier white gold watch with diamonds, emeralds, and onyx, Panthère de Cartier yellow gold earrings with tsavorites and diamonds, Panthère de Cartier yellow gold bracelets, one with tsavorites and onyx, the other with black lacquer, tsavorites, diamonds, and onyx; Iroshini’s own Tex Saverio polyester-mix laser-cut top; Marciano cotton-mix shorts; Ash gladiator heels

“My wardrobe contains edgy and architectural pieces for night outs. They allow me to have fun with fashion and be experimental. The iconic panther motif on the timepiece and jewels packs a punch and makes the entire look more impactful.”

Story Credits

Text by Yanni tan

Images by Wong Wei Liang

Styling by Vernon Sim

Styling Assistance by Christine Lim

Hair by Eileen Koh

Makeup by Amy Chow, using Chanel colors

Location The Presidential Suite at the St. Regis Singapore

This story first appeared in WOW Jewelry, Singapore.

Interview: Catherine Cariou, Nicolas Bos for VCA

Somewhere on this planet, there’s a beautiful gold and platinum pin depicting the graceful opening and closing of a flower. Its petals are composed of 640 square Burmese rubies in Mystery Set – an ingenious setting technique with no prongs visible – while its heart holds an additional six faceted, oval rubies. The pin’s surrounding foliage is just as elegant, starring 239 of the world’s most brilliant baguette and round diamonds.

Commissioned by the late Princess Faiza of Egypt and first created in 1937, that pin, at 130 carats, is Van Cleef & Arpels’ magnificent Peony clip. Like the ballerina, four-leaf clover and poetry, the flower has long been an icon of the Parisian jeweler and watchmaker. “The famous Peony flower is one of the highlights of Van Cleef & Arpels’ 1930s artistry,” points out the brand’s heritage director Catherine Cariou. “It epitomizes the maison’s style in two ways: with its floral theme, which has been dear to the house since its foundation, and with its Mystery Set technique, which has been Van Cleef & Arpels’ signature since its invention in 1933.

Here, Cariou and president and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels Nicolas Bos discuss the relevance of the brand’s formidable past in the making of its present-day jewels and watches.Van-Cleef-Arpels-Catherine-Cariou-LOfficiel

A big part of design is about looking forward. How then does heritage, or a backstory, play a pivotal role in this equation?

Catherine Cariou: The Van Cleef & Arpels collection is a lively treasure and the signature of the maison. It illustrates the historical, artistic, stylistic and technique evolution of the house, and testifies the timelessness and dynamism of the Van Cleef & Arpels spirit. For almost 30 years – with great patience – a collection, which includes jewelries, watches, objects and accessories, has slowly been created. This priceless, vintage collection is the ‘messenger’ of the maison.

How does Van Cleef & Arpels ensure what’s inspired by its past stays relevant in the present, and to what extent are the house’s new creations inspired by its heritage?

Nicolas Bos: At Van Cleef & Arpels, we have a huge respect for the work and achievements that have been accomplished since our creation. Actually, we can say that we write new chapters of the same story. We consider our heritage a reference, but we do not want to repeat it. We are reinventing ourselves today without forgetting our roots. It is all about continuity while focussing on evolution.Van-Cleef-Arpels-Nicholas-Bos-LOfficiel

What is Van Cleef & Arpels’ design formula, and how different is that formula in the making of the brand’s timepieces as opposed to jewelry?

NB: Our high jewelry creations are based on great sources of inspiration such as nature, poetry, couture and imaginary worlds, but also on other cultural fields such as dance, architecture and the decorative arts. This is how Van Cleef & Arpels’ style has built itself. For watchmaking, this style is the same but expressed in a different way: comparable to cinema and always in motion. Timepieces are mobile thanks to their mechanisms. High jewelry, on the other hand, is similar to photography, sometimes figurative and fixed in time.

Take us through the brand’s design process. What are typical images on the mood board?

NB: The mood board is mainly composed of Van Cleef & Arpels’ heritage pieces, but also inspirations from other cultural and artistic fields. We first select a theme relevant to the maison, before adding some patrimonial pictures, paintings, landscapes, literature and poems. Step by step, from the first draft, we progress to the final sketch. I guide the whole process in order to reorient and to redefine the designs. The mood board is used among craftsmen and stone experts as much as designers. It is a collaborative process and a real basis to work together on finding new ideas. For our Jules Verne high jewelry collection, when we shared the mood board with our stone experts and jewelers, each department enriched the collection by coming up with new elements in addition to the designers’. For instance, the former suggested the use of raw emeralds on a necklace, while the latter came up with the Theatre Poetique, which was used on the Baleine Bleue clip.

Modern-day interations of Van Cleef & Arpels' Cadenas watch come in feminine guises.

Modern-day interations of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Cadenas watch come in feminine guises.

Let’s talk about transformability and metamorphosis as concepts that Van Cleef & Arpels has embraced. When and why did the brand take an interest in these?

CC: Since the foundation of the maison, Van Cleef & Arpels has created versatile jewelry. In the late ’30s, the brand created the Passe-Partout jewel, which was one of the first examples of the transformative pieces pioneered by us. Designed to adapt itself to its wearer’s mood, it was the perfect accessory for modern women who wanted to be able to match their jewelry with different clothes and in different situations. It was one of the maison’s best-known creations throughout the ’30s and ’40s. The Passe-Partout is based on an ingenious technical innovation. Hidden by two flower clips, a system of metal rails enables a flexible, yellow-gold snake chain to slide in and out, transforming the piece into a necklace, a choker, an opera-length necklace, a bracelet or a belt. The flowers can also be worn alone as clips and some can even be worn as ear clips.

As clever and innovative as they may sound, ‘transformability’ and ‘metamorphosis’ are not words that typically translate to a feminine or sexy image. How does the brand make this work?

NB: Women enjoy changing styles to express all the different aspects of their personalities. True to that, high jewelry had to adapt itself to different moments of a woman’s daily routine and make itself easier to wear. It had to become transformable. For example, a necklace for the day, which transforms to earrings or even two bracelets for the evening, is easier to adapt to a modern lifestyle.

Heritage is a big deal for Van Cleef & Arpels. Do you worry such sources of inspiration or influence may eventually run out?

NB: The great themes of inspiration we evoked earlier – nature, poetry, couture, imaginary worlds, dance – are universal and endless. Our heritage is our foundation, but we want to keep exploring it, not reproduce it. We are willing to innovate and Van Cleef & Arpels is looking towards the future. Our challenge is to remain relevant to today’s environment, lifestyle and codes, while remaining faithful to our core identity and values.

Story Credits

Text By Kenny Loh

This story first appeared in L’Officiel Singapore.

VCA Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons

If you have ever wondered what a watch with retrograde hours, variable speed minutes and on-demand animation looks like, Van Cleef & Arpels has given you the answer. The Parisian jeweler with the soul of a poetic watchmaker still has a lot of explaining to with the Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons because while the watch looks like a beauty, the description still beggars belief. We decided to take it upon ourselves to interpret the information sent out by the brand because the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie is just around the corner and this watch will surely be front and center there. Also, the wire services have put together an unintelligible mess of a story on this but did helpfully supply the images seen here.

To begin with, the colorful butterflies are mobile, and their motions show the minutes, in conjunction with the swallow at 6 o’clock that points out retrograde hours with its wingtip. The minutes are split into three sections, each overseen by one of the butterflies, which take over from each other at the appropriate minute, literally. Only one butterfly is visible at a time (the rest hide in the clouds), making reading off time not especially complicated. Given that the indication of time is by butterfly though (not a sentence I ever thought I’d write), it is unclear if the precise minute is indicated via the wingtip… We shall investigate. What we do know is that all three butterflies can appear on command, dancing around the clouds for 13 seconds, then returning to previous positions.

Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons

This scene is largely made up out of hand-painted panels in mother-of-pearl, butterflies decorated by miniature painting and an engraved white gold swallow, also painted in different colors. This scene is repeated, or completed if you prefer, on the caseback, this time with the swallow engraved on the caseback while the three butterflies are lacquered and positioned on the rotor of the self-winding movement; the clouds are engraved on the underside of the sapphire crystal exhibition caseback.

This new model Lady Arpels is part of the permanent collection, which means that we can looks forward to more creative executions over the next years.

Specs

  • Van Cleef & Arpels Ronde des Papillons
  • Dimensions: 38mm
  • Functions: Jumping retrograde hours, variable speed minutes, animation on-demand
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Mechanical, manual-winding, calibre 98300
  • Water resistance: NA
  • Material: White gold with diamonds on bezel and one on the crown, alligator strap with white gold pin buckle set with diamonds
  • Numbered edition

10 Ways to Wear Asia on Your Wrist

The most sublime artistic watches of 2015 are replete with motifs dear to Asia. Our friends at WOW curated this list of the 10 best examples, featuring a showcase of artisanal techniques in watchmaking such as champlevé enamelling but also incorporating outside crafts such as Aka-e painting.

HERMÈS

Travel back in time to ancient Kyoto with the 39.5mm Slim d’Hermès Koma Kurabe watch (pictured above), named after the famous millennial-old horse race at the Kamigamo Shrine. Fine French porcelain is further exalted with the Japanese art of Aka-e painting, under the expert brush of master Buzan Fukushima from Kutani in the Ishikawa Prefecture. One of the rare artisans who still practice this technique, Fukushima deftly paints on subtly graded shades of red and ochre, which he coats with a fine layer of gold before firing it three times. The watch also features the mechanical self-winding H1950 movement.

Jacquet Droz-r50

JAQUET DROZ

Honouring the Chinese Year of the Goat is this Petite Heure Minute Relief Goats, which features three goats carved out of white gold springing from the summit of an imaginary mountain. In the backdrop is a stylised dial evoking the motif of the plum blossom through champlevé enamelling of white and Jaquet Droz’s signature blue, with the finished result resembling an exquisite piece of Chinese paper cutting. 
This 41mm timepiece is endowed with a self-winding mechanical movement.

Piaget-r50

PIAGET

Also paying homage to the Chinese zodiac, the Altiplano Enamelled Cloisonné Goat watch displays the talent of world-renowned independent enamel artist Anita Porchet, who created this Grand Feu cloisonné enamel dial in soft shades of grey. The tones on the magnificent buck were painstakingly graded from intense to lighter nuances, while the ethereal background brings to mind a cloud-streaked sky over a mountain range. Housed within the 38mm watch is the Piaget 430P mechanical manual-winding movement.

VCA-r50

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS

A work of superlative savoir faire and craftsmanship, this Palais de la Chance Carpe Koï high jewelry bracelet watch is a tribute to Japanese culture, of which the koi is a symbol of love, life, and serenity. Requiring 3,450 hours of meticulous work, it is set with 8,000 colored stones that includes diamonds, spessartite garnets, and yellow sapphires for the body; black spinels for eyes; and Paraiba-like tourmalines and diamonds for the water motif. The bracelet of this watch, which is powered by a quartz movement, is unfastened by pressing on the koi’s tail.

Chaumet-r50

CHAUMET

Beautifully captured on the dial of the Lumières d’Eau Parure 11 watch is the elegance and grace of the carp, which in Chinese mythology is a symbol of success for its ability to transform into a dragon. It features four fish made of engraved yellow gold with blue sapphires for eyes, gliding across softly swirling water represented by a cream-colored lacquered dial set with brilliant diamonds for ripples. The long tails of the fish extend out over part of the bezel, the rest of which is set with 183 brilliant diamonds. The piece is powered by a Swiss mechanical self-winding movement.

Blancpain-r50

BLANCPAIN

The Hindu god of Ganesh is superbly immortalized on the dial of this Villeret Shakudo watch. Shakudo, which is a historical technique Japanese in origin, refers to an alloy principally composed of copper and gold that acquires a dark patina between blue and black. The 45mm timepiece also features engraving and damascening, which is another old technique that involves inlaying precious metals, in this case gold, into a base metal. It is endowed with the manual-winding Calibre 15B mechanical movement.

De Bethune-r50

DE  BETHUNE

Named after an ancient Mesoamerican feathered serpent, which is a deity of the summer winds and a protector of artisans, the DB25 Quetzalcoatl flaunts a solid gold dial sculpted by engraver Michèle Rothen. The head of the coiled snake at the center points to the hour, while its tail indicates the minutes. The hour markers resemble a series of temples viewed from the sky, while a circular guilloché motif makes the watch glow. Beating at the heart of this 44mm watch is the manual-winding Calibre DB2005.

Corum-r50

CORUM

The watchmaker’s legendary linear movement is paired up with a mythical creature, the dragon, to give us the audacious Golden Bridge Dragon. Immaculate hand-engraving work taking more than two weeks transforms a mold-poured piece of white gold into an incredibly detailed, three-dimensional piece of art. The dragon’s sinuous silhouette, which wraps around the movement without actually touching it, is covered with tiny depth-effect scales, and given impressive claws and a pearl-tipped tail. Encased within the 34mm x 51mm watch, with a bezel and lugs adorned with baguette diamonds, is the CO113 manual-winding movement.

Cartier-r50

CARTIER

The ancestral damascene technique is used on the dial of this Rotonde de Cartier 42mm to depict the amazingly life-like and detailed head of a majestic panther, which represents ferocity and strength to the Chinese. Wires in rose, yellow and white gold were hammered into troughs cut into a gold base, while the feline’s nose and spots 
were painted with black lacquer. Black onyx forms the background of the watch, which is equipped with the manual-winding mechanical movement 9601 MC.

Story Credits

Text by Yanni Tan

Illustrations by Irene Arifin

Midnight Planetarium van cleef

Midnight Planetarium by Van Cleef & Arpels

Jeweler and watchmaker Van Cleef & Arpels has decided to shoot for the stars with its latest design, the astrological watch Midnight Planetarium.

Midnight Planetarium van cleef

The watch replicates the orbit of six planets — Earth, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn — around the sun. The position of each of the planets at any given time is accurately represented on the watch face thanks to a complex mechanical system comprising 396 separate parts.

The movement of each planet is true to its genuine orbit — for example, it will take Saturn over 29 years to make a full circle of the watch dial. Mercury has the shortest orbit, circling the timepiece in just 88 days.

A pink gold shooting star moving along the outer edge of the dial is used to tell the time, whilst wearers can also set their own ‘lucky day’ by positioning a red triangle along the watch face’s calendar.

On that particular day, the Earth will skip to sit directly below a star engraved on a sapphire crystal — a sign of good luck.

Midnight Planetarium

The planets have been created from a selection of hard stones: turquoise for the Earth, serpentine for Mercury, chloromelanite for Venus, red jasper for Mars, blue agate for Jupiter and sugilite for Saturn.

The Midnight Planetarium is part of Van Cleef & Arpels’s Poetic Astronomy watch collection, which the brand has been developing since 2008 through its Poetic Compilations and Extraordinary Dials ranges.

Van Cleef Poetic Complications Butterfly Symphony

Send a video poem to friends with Van Cleef & Arpels

8 Seconds of Luck

Like Burberry last summer with its digital kisses, French jewelry-maker Van Cleef & Arpels is aligning internet technology, luxury products and sentimental messages in a new campaign.

Through a dedicated website, fans of the brand can create an eight-second video poem on the theme of luck, send it to a friend, and register to win a trip to the opening of the Van Cleef & Arpels flagship store in New York.

The “8 Seconds of Luck” website draws inspiration from the famous maxim of Jacques Arpels, nephew to the company’s founder, who declared that “to have luck, you must believe in luck.”

Visitors to the website choose three elements that will determine the content of their video: a precious stone or metal, a line of Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry and a short quote. Or, for those who like to leave things to chance, click on “Believe in Luck” to have the three elements chosen randomly.

Users then write a message to accompany their video. After clicking “Create,” users see an eight-second video with a varied assortment of pleasant images, followed by the message. The video can then be saved and sent to loved ones. Through October 23, users can also register for the sweepstakes to attend the Van Cleef & Arpels New York flagship opening.

A fun way to connect with friends and family, the site also offers a chance to become acquainted with Van Cleef & Arpels’ jewelry, and particularly with the Alhambra and Perlée lines.