Five new frolicsome creatures join the playful Lucky Animals collection at Van Cleef & Arpels.
Van Cleef & Arpels is one of the most iconic names in French high jewellery – you’ll know them especially for their distinctive whimsical designs of flora and fauna, which are characteristically playful and exuberant.
But don’t be fooled by the lightness of touch – the heritage of unparalleled craftsmanship goes back more than a century to 1895, when Estelle Arpels, daughter of a dealer in precious stones, married Alfred Van Cleef, the son of a stone-cutter. Thus began one of the most fortuitous partnerships in the history of jewellery-making, setting the scene for such iconic pieces as Princess Grace of Monaco’s pearl wedding set in 1956, and the splendid ruby cravate necklace commissioned by the Duke of Windsor for the Duchess’s 40th birthday.
Cherished Animal Tradition
In the 1950s, the jewellery house turned its unerring eye to a merry world of little animals, inspired by early animated films and evoking the humorous proportions of cartoon critters. The collection, La Boutique, featured a gallery of charming characters like “the Rabbit and the Peaceful Turtle” and “the Wise Owl” crafted from enamel and semi-precious stones, accented with diamonds and gold. Needless to say, this delightful collection was a veritable hit (Grace Kelly and Jackie Onassis were big fans), and offered an instantly modern, fun daywear line of jewellery.
This lighthearted take on frolicking creatures was further extended in 2017 with a lively new take on animal clips with a new collection Lucky Animals. Imbued with the same spirit and good humour as its predecessor, Lucky Animals is a clutch of adorable creature pins casual enough for everyday wear, while still showing off some of Van Cleef & Arpels’ best-loved handcrafting techniques, such as hard stone marquetry and millegrain beading.
Lucky Animals 2020
Joining the original Lucky Animals line-up of woodland creatures and furry friends this year are five stand-out new members – the Horse, Duck, Turtle, Panda and Pig. Each clip is suffused with distinctive style and personality, with a deftness of technique that vividly brings each little animal to life.
The dynamic little Mandarin Duck showcases a unique combination of hard stone, featuring grey mother-of-pearl, malachite and lapis lazuli, set with one shining onyx eye that is full of character and curiousity. The prancing Horse is a brilliant Carnelian orange framed by a noble onyx mane, vigorous and full of life. A precious symbol of friendship, the Panda exudes tenderness with its rounded shape and wide, laughing eyes.
Expert Know-how and Craftsmanship
Great care has gone into selecting the right materials to endow each animal with unique vivacity – for example, the striking veins running through the bright green Malachite effortlessly evokes the nuances of the Turtle’s shell, and gives the Duck a sense of movement and energy. The grey mother-of-pearl, which has been selected for its exceptional cloudless radiance, rounds out the snuffling Pig with a gentleness and luminescence.
The expertise of the craftsmen and expert gemologists of Van Cleef & Arpels shines on each and every piece, as under the light-heartedness of design lies absolute precision of technique. Influenced by the French jewellery making technique called millegrain, which is a cherished feature of its vintage Alhambra line, Lucky Animals showcases a clean outline of fine gold beading individually polished by hand. This further enhances the hard stone marquetry which involves the delicate operation of cutting and polishing tiny components of semi-precious stones that fit perfectly around each other.
Once again, the esteemed jewellery house has hit another high note with a loving nod to its beloved animal tradition with new animal characters that will be cherished for a long time to come.
Images courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.