Van Cleef & Arpels is a renowned jewelry brand that has been crafting exquisite fine jewelry pieces for over a century.
What stands out among the many hallmarks of Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry is the use of precious stones, each with its own unique properties, colors, and meanings. Whether it’s the brilliance of diamonds, the vibrant hues of sapphires, or the earthy tones of malachite and rhodonite, shopping for Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry offers an unparalleled selection of gemstones chosen for its unique properties. The result? Exquisite jewelry pieces that are a feast for the eyes and an excellent investment. To delve deeper into the diverse world of Van Cleef & Arpels gemstones, let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular and sought-after varieties.
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Van Cleef & Arpels Stones
Diamonds are the most popular gemstone used in Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry, and it’s no surprise why. The brand uses only the finest quality diamonds with the highest clarity and color, ensuring that each piece is not only beautiful but also valuable. But it’s not just the quality of the diamonds that set Van Cleef & Arpels apart. The brand’s artisans are also known for cutting diamonds into unique shapes, such as the famous “mystery set” technique, which creates an illusion that the diamonds are floating. This attention to detail and commitment to innovation has helped Van Cleef & Arpels maintain its status as one of the world’s most renowned jewelers.
The Big Three
The “Big Three” is not to be confused with the “Big Three,” or Holy Trinity of watches. The “Big Three” in jewelry are sapphires, emeralds, and rubies, and together, these stones make up some of the rarest and most precious colored stones out there.
- Sapphires: Sapphires make up one of the big three in jewelry and are especially popular for their deep blue color, which is often associated with royalty and elegance. However, Van Cleef & Arpels also use sapphires in other colors, such as pink, yellow, and green, which add a playful and vibrant touch to their designs. Sapphires are often paired with diamonds in Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry to create a beautiful contrast that highlights the unique features of both gemstones. The combination of sapphires and diamonds not only adds to the overall aesthetic appeal of the piece but also increases its value.
- Rubies: Ruby is a sister stone to sapphire. Both rubies and sapphires fall under the mineral corundum but have different chemistries that give their distinct appearance. Rubies are distinguished by a sharp red color and are often used in Van Cleef & Arpels’ Frivole collection, as are sapphires and emeralds.
- Emeralds: The emerald stone is a rare beryl of unparalleled beauty and is characterized by a deep and consistent green color. Most emeralds used by the Maison are sourced from Columbia, Zambia, and Brazil.
Malachite is green in color, like the emerald stone, but is more opaque, displaying straight uniform veins. Malachite is a green mineral that has been prized for its beauty and use for centuries, and Van Cleef & Arpels is known for incorporating this stunning gemstone into their jewelry designs. Not only is malachite beautiful to look at, but it is also believed to carry healing properties, which is just an added bonus for anyone seeking spiritual and physical well-being. When polished, malachite reveals bands of verdant green ranging from seafoam to as dark as forest green. Malachite is highly sought-after in the world of decorative stones and is often used in Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra collections and Perlee collections.
Mother of Pearl
Mother of pearl is a common stone used in Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry pieces. Highly valued for its iridescent beauty, mother of pearl is produced using certain types of mollusks, primarily oysters and abalone, making it a natural and organic material that adds to the charm of Van Cleef & Arpels’ creations. The intricate and unique patterns that look like rolling ocean waves that can be found in mother of pearl add to the allure of this stone from the sea, and Van Cleef & Arpels’ artisans often incorporate it in their designs to create a subtle yet striking contrast with other gemstones.
Carnelian is a distinctive stone that Van Cleef & Arpels often incorporates into their jewelry designs, characteristic of its fiery red color. Carnelian is a variety of the mineral chalcedony, which is related to the mineral quartz. Carnelian’s deep, rich color adds warmth and intensity to any piece it adorns. It’s believed to have protective and healing powers since ancient times, making it a popular choice for those seeking energetic balance.
Like Carnelian, onyx is a variety of the mineral chalcedony known for its distinctive black that adds a bold and dramatic element to any piece. In history, onyx has been believed to absorb negative energy and promote balance and stability, a belief that dates back to ancient times throughout various cultures. Van Cleef & Arpels’ use of onyx not only adds a unique element to their designs but also showcases their appreciation for the history and symbolism of gemstones.
Turquoise is a blue-green mineral that has been valued throughout history and various cultures for its beauty and symbolism. Van Cleef & Arpels often uses turquoise stones in their jewelry designs, which adds a touch of unique elegance and charm to their pieces. Turquoise has been believed to enhance communication, self-expression, and spiritual attunement. Whether used as a standalone feature or as part of a larger design, turquoise adds a touch of vibrancy.
The intense blue color of the Lapis lazuli stone, stippled with pyrite, is truly captivating. However, as an opaque stone with a highly variable composition, it is susceptible to damage or scratching. For this reason, it is recommended to store any lapis lazuli pieces in a dry, fabric-lined box, separate from other jewelry, to ensure their protection.
Van Cleef & Arpels also incorporates chalcedony into their jewelry designs, a type of cryptocrystalline mineral that is symbolically believed to promote relaxation. When you look at Van Cleef and Arpels Chalcedony, you will see transparent ribbons of soft blue dancing through the stone, which is sometimes known as lace agate. Chalcedony is found in nodules and veins in rocks and can come in many different colors and patterns, making it a versatile and popular choice in fine jewelry. When polished, chalcedony has a smooth, glossy surface, similar to Mother of Pearl, and this iridescent look accentuates the unique patterns and colors present.
Tiger Eye is often used in Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry. Tiger eye is known for its striking golden-brown colors and unique chatoyancy effect, which creates a shimmering, cat’s-eye appearance when viewed from different angles. This makes it a highly sought-after stone for its mesmerizing beauty and uniqueness. Tiger eye is believed to promote courage, strength, and prosperity, and has been used in various cultures throughout history for its perceived healing properties. Other variations of tiger eye include Bulls Eye Quartz which is basically a red tiger’s eye.
Van Cleef & Arpels’ Alhambra collection in sevres porcelain blends jewelry-making expertise with ceramic art, and is a type of French porcelain produced in the Sevres region of France. The sevres style of porcelain was invented in the Court of King Louis the XV and his mistress Madame Pomadour. Sevres porcelain is a highly prized material made with a mix of different minerals, including quartz, feldspar, and kaolin, and is still produced by the Sevres manufactory today. Sevres porcelain is considered a luxury item in the world of fine jewelry, and there are several colors ranging from celadon green to celestane (a pink) and a distinctive bleu de sevres hue. The porcelain is polished by hand by the artisans for a smooth, satiny finish then enameled to protect and enhance their color. This material is often used in their Alhambra creations.
Rhodonite’s distinctive pink mineral is believed to have healing properties and is often used in alternative medicine and crystal healing practices. It is the official gemstone of Massachusetts but can be found in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, India, Peru, Russia, and Sweden. Rhodonite is typically found in metamorphic rocks that were subjected to high pressure. When polished and cut, the unique colors and patterns of rhodonite can create beautiful and striking jewelry pieces. Van Cleef & Arpels’ use of rhodonite is a testament to their dedication to using only the finest and most unique materials in their designs.
We all know of the famous Van Cleef & Arpels’ Vintage Alhambra collection. In fact, the Alhambra collection is a testament to the Maison’s creative foresight. In the early days, precious letterwood was found in their Place Vendome workshop, and it was used to create the emblematic motif characteristic of the Alhambra. Although not a stone, it’s worth knowing that the creation process of incorporating letterwood required the expertise of a cabinet maker and a wood inlayer to infuse the wood with jewelry, and even involved using a Boulle marquetry machine from Louis XIV’s residence to cut the letterwood. The resulting limited edition collection of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings is a wearable work of art, showcasing the Maison’s fine jewelry-making know-how and skilled carpentry. Today, Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry with letterwood is the perfect statement piece to wear that celebrates the Maison’s history.
What really defines Van Cleef & Arpels is their incorporation of classic gemstones like sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds, but also non-traditional materials like their historic letterwood and the sevres porcelain that defined the French court.