Secrets and mysteries have been one of the foundations of jewellery maison Van Cleef & Arpels' classic style for many years. This year, at Paris Haute Couture week, the brand presented a new high jewellery collection, Le Secret, which expanded on the theme. It follows the Van Cleef & Arpels longstanding tradition of creating jewellery symbols, turning them into talismans, memory keepsakes and personal treasures.
This new extensive collection, which includes over 100 pieces, is inspired by nature and lucky charms, symbols with which Van Cleef & Arpels has already been synonymous for some time. Le Secret recalls a secret garden of jewels where flowers bloom, exotic trees grow, birds sing and butterflies flutter. However, the inhabitants of this little green heaven are not always depicted on the front of jewels as we’d expect. Often, they are hidden in some crafty way, arousing their owner’s desire to look beyond the perceptible.
A stunning example of a jewel with a secret is the bright flower brooch Pétale de Papillon. Its leaves are encrusted with emeralds and tsavorites, its petals – yellow and violet-pink sapphires, with the back edge of the diamond stalk adorned with pear-cut diamonds. Only the most sharp-eyed observers will notice that amongst the petals is a butterfly of the same colour. Thanks to an inconspicuous mechanism, one of the petals can be peeled back by those that are curious enough to look revealing the winged creature. The butterfly can also be removed and worn as a separate brooch.
In the secret watch Papillon Secret, pretty little butterflies made of emeralds, black spinel and diamonds are themselves hiding the secret behind the jewel: time. The wings of one butterfly conceal a small watch pearl dial. However, this watch’s main attraction is the unbelievably beautiful central Colombian emerald weighing 14.57 carats.
The intention behind the entire Le Secret collection is also to reflect the incredibly rich and enigmatic world of high-class precious stones, which Van Cleef & Arpels has labelled Pierre de Caractère™. These can reflect an entire range of emotions: from the sensuality of bright flowers to the mysteriousness of gentle pastel hues.
The long convertible necklace Oiseau Sur La Brache has been made with 28 deep red Burmese rubies that together weigh 567.17 carats. The central feature of the convertible Pégase necklace is the deep-coloured Sri Lankan sapphire weighing 45.10 carats. The emerald cut exposes the royal blue colour that is characteristic of stones from the oldest mines to maximum effect. Inside the pendant is hidden a miniature figure of the famous winged horse from Greek mythology: Pegasus. The figurine can be both exposed and concealed at will, or even unfastened entirely along with the two other pendants.
Another fairy tale creature, this time inspired by the stories of Pushkin, manifests itself in the convertible Metamorphose Du Cygne brooch. The Swan Princess is wonderfully transformed from a swan into a woman with a head of rose-cut diamond. The metamorphosis can occur thanks to the rotating back of the jewel – the torso of the young princess (then the lower decorative element becomes her dress) can be seen, then the gracious swan, gliding across the sapphire water.
A dove soaring upwards to deliver a secret note in an envelope acts as company for the swan in the collection. This brooch is made from white, pink and red gold with diamonds, emeralds and rubies in a traditional Mystery Set™. It symbolises love: on the other side of the message, there is a rose and an engraving on a little ribbon: “L’Amour”. And the figure of the dove itself from the back can be admired for its delicate metal work, continuing the motif of the feathers.
Incidentally, the highly-skilled craftsmanship is another facet of the Le Secret collection. Indeed, the maison’s jewellers have concealed the secrets behind their own handiwork, passing them down through the generations. The virtuosos of jewellery-making, whom Van Cleef & Arpels have named Mains d’Or™ (“golden hands”), have created one of the most intriguing lines in their history. They have hidden multiple secrets in a single collection. Deciphering these is the most entertaining game!