Best Of The Best 2006: Van Cleef & Arpels Pierres De Caractère

Somewhat decadent and remarkably relevant to contemporary styles, Van Cleef & Arpels’ Pierres de Caractère collection flaunts some of the world’s finest and rarest gems, including chunky, grape-size emeralds from ancient mines in Muzo, Colombia; hefty, mouthwatering Nigerian mandarin garnets; and a 50-carat blazing orange Brazilian topaz paired with an abundance of diamonds in autumnal hues.

To mark its centennial anniversary, the Parisian jewelry house spent three years acquiring these gems to create the 100-piece collection, which was presented last fall at a series of parties in Paris, Moscow, Hong Kong, New York, Palm Beach, and other cities. A 127.45-carat rough Muzo emerald set in a necklace wowed clients at a party in Los Angeles and ultimately sold for more than $3 million.

The collection also includes diamond-encrusted bows, and jeweled tassels, buttons, and zippers that reference couture fashion. A favorite piece of Van Cleef & Arpels president and CEO Stanislas de Quercize is the functioning zipper necklace, a design that originally was made for the Duchess of Windsor. “It’s inspired by couture,” de Quercize says, “but it’s bold and playful.”

Another necklace comprises 15 mandarin garnets laced together on a diamond-studded ribbon that cascades down the neck. Several pieces in the collection resemble items from Van Cleef’s archives, indicating why the company’s vintage designs still command top dollar.

Van Cleef & Arpels



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