The Pompon secret long necklaces by Van Cleef & Arpels may trace their roots to the 1920s, but the colour palettes used in these contemporary creations are full of 1970s glamour. There are eight pieces in total, each one unique and crafted with white cultured pearls, precious gemstones, semi-precious stones and diamonds. Hidden within each necklace is a timepiece, although in different places and positions across the collection. It is important to note that these are jewellery pieces first, timepieces second, with the focus being on the long-line beauty of each creation and its transformable qualities that allow for shorter and longer variations and, in the case of the Pompon Margaret, a trio of bracelets.
Speaking of the Pompon Margaret, this is undoubtedly the Hollywood starlet of the eight designs. It is elaborately constructed with a multitude of independently designed, decorative elements that link together at different points, all of which are cohesively decorated with shades of blue gems and white diamonds. The transformable white gold necklace has a 6.19 carat Sri Lankan cushion-cut sapphire at its heart, surrounded by more blue sapphires, lapis lazuli beads, white cultured pearls, and white mother of pearl on the watch face.
The eye is led to a decorative tassel, although interestingly this is not where the secret watch is hidden. Instead, it’s the central sapphire motif that houses the watch, which is revealed by pressing one of the diamonds. The Margaret is highly functional too: the secret watch, tassel and strands of pearls can be removed to vary the length of the long necklace. The latter transforms into two bracelets, while the secret watch can be attached to a third bracelet in diamonds, sapphires and cultured pearls.
Elsewhere in the collection there’s the twin Pompon Leila long necklaces, each with a distinctive shape and colour palette. Both are transformable and can be worn long or short, with or without the tassel, while the main motif can be removed and worn as a brooch, complete with its statement gemstone adornment. There are two colourways to choose from: a white gold, yellow gold and platinum Pompon Leila with a cushion cut green tourmaline of 11.87 carats, sapphires, black spinels, onyx, lapis lazuli, white cultured pearls and diamonds, and a rose gold version with an 8.99 carat cushion-cut pink spinel, pink and mauve sapphires, rubies, white cultured pearls and diamonds. On both creations, the mother-of-pearl dial is concealed in the tassel and hidden behind a fringe of white cultured pearls capped with gemstone beads and many more diamonds.
The final five pieces in the Pompon secret long necklace collection are titled Gaia. They forgo the central motif in favour of a highly decorative tassel, which descends from a colourful beaded chain with a mini cascade of vibrant beads that hang at the nape of the neck. Again, you’ll find the secret watch in a different place, this time hidden in the top of the tassel behind a sliding, gem-set door. To transform this design, the wearer can choose a long or short orientation, can remove the tassel and/or replace it with the motif at the nape of the neck, creating a second pendant style.
I am particularly drawn to the combination of yellow sapphires, emeralds, malachite, turquoise, diamonds and white cultured pearls in yellow gold, but there are two further green-blue variants with purple sapphires, tsavorite garnets, turquoise and chrysoprase, or sapphires, emeralds, lapis lazuli and amazonite. Of the final two Gaia long necklaces there’s a blue and mauve sapphire version, with spinels, onyx, chalcedony and white cultured pearls in rose gold, and a feminine blend of pink sapphires, rubies, coral and white cultured pearls, also in rose gold.
There’s so much to be impressed by in these Pompon necklaces: the transformation, the colour combinations, the craftsmanship, and the shaping to name a few. Even the white cultured pearls – the consistent element across all eight designs – were carefully chosen for consistent size, shape and lustre. The blend of precious and semi-precious is seamless, elevating the value of exceptional stones with the aesthetic value of more accessible, albeit no less beautiful gems. Let’s also not forget the technique that holds all these elements in place – knotted threading – whereby a knot is made between each pearl in silk thread to protect and secure the design.
And then there’s the engineering. A multitude of clasps that allow pieces to be removed, reworked and reassembled, hidden inside jewellery pieces. The playfulness of the finished necklaces and their creative colours combinations masks the incredible foundations that lie beneath. These are jewels with both style and substance.