By THE NATION
BANGKOK BEGINS the year by adding another jewel to its crown – the opening of high-end jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels’ flagship store at the Emporium.
The 190-square-metre boutique reflects Van Cleef & Arpels’ distinctive style through an enchanting space that oozes the legendary allure and spirit of this historical French brand.
Founded in 1896 by Alfred Van Cleef and his father-in-law, Salomon Arpels, the store became famous for its proprietary gem setting – the “Mystery Setting” – which ensures the prongs are invisible. It has also introduced several other innovations over the years including an ingenious vanity case named the Minaudiere and the “Zip” necklace, inspired by the zip fastener.
A faithful interpreter of lightness and movement, Van Cleef & Arpels today pays homage to kites fluttering in the breeze. Symbols of protection in Asian culture, they offer their vitality to a brand-new collection of jewellery “Cerfs-Volants” featuring pieces that are both fluid and sophisticated.
To express the motion of a kite in mid-flight, the “Between the Finger” ring has been crafted in three dimensions and arranged on several levels so that the volumes of its various elements evoke the energy of the kite, its sails swollen in the wind and ribbons twirling. The intricate marquetry work on the motif – in different shades of mother-of-pearl – contributes a play of materials and contrasts that adds to the piece’s lively character. The body of the ring, representing a ribbon spinning in the breeze, enables the two parts of the motif to catch the light and reveal their full brilliance at every moment.
A pair of asymmetric earrings is equally surprising, bringing together two distinct representations of a kite: one in white and grey mother-of-pearl, the other set with diamonds and coloured stones.
The kite motif is accompanied by a cloud on the chatelaine clip, The two motifs are connected by a diamond-set chain and can be positioned however their wearer desires. An ingenious mechanism also enables them to be worn separately.
Selected according to the stringent criteria of Van Cleef & Arpels, the chosen materials provide the collection with elegant variations of hue. Alongside the complementary overtones of white and grey mother-of-pearl, pink and mauve sapphires form subtle gradations. On each piece in the Cerfs-Volants collection, the use of different kinds of setting and cut – brilliant, pear-shaped or square – bears witness to the jewellery-making expertise that brings Van Cleef & Arpels’ creations to life.
The linear patterns and inviting earth tones of the new boutique are juxtaposed against plush furnishings and a decor reminiscent of a refined drawing room, making a perfect home for the unique “High Jewellery” creations, which also interpret the kite theme on seven pieces.
The first set – composed of a necklace, a ring, earrings and a clip – gives pride of place to the Mystery Setting. Diamonds and rubies represent the body of a kite, intermingling to create three distinct paved surfaces.
Depicted by diamonds of different cuts – brilliant, pear-shaped, marquise and baguette – the kite’s tail is flexible thanks to intricate articulations.
A second set offers a joyful and brightly coloured aesthetic, inspired by the cocktail jewellery worn at fashionable receptions by elegant women of the 1960s and 1970s. Two cocktail rings, their multi-coloured gems depicting butterflies, introduce a sunny colour scheme. The blend of colours contributes a poetic dimension to these spectacular rings. One is adorned with a lavish rubellite weighing 37.89 carats at the centre of rainbow-coloured stones, while the other unveils a cushion-cut green tourmaline weighing 38.03 carats whose shade contrasts with the blue, violet and pink tones of the other gems.
For its part, the Cerfs-Volants Mysterieux long necklace bears witness to the brand’s technical virtuosity by combining several examples of its savoir-faire, The creation includes a watch with an anti-clockwise quartz movement, allowing its wearer to tell the time in a mirror when she opens the case.
Marquetry crafted from a gradation of mother-of-pearl on the case offers a highly graphic representation of the kite motif. On the outside of the case, the same motif is depicted in richly coloured rubies, embellished by the Mystery Setting technique.