“We prefer to alternate figurative collections with abstract ones, and besides, do not forget about our Pierres de Caractère (“Stones with character”) - this is how we call extremely rare and valuable stones,” Nicolas Bose, president of Van Cleef & Arpels, tells me. explaining the logic of development in the jewelry house of the haute joaillerie direction. Two years ago, Van Cleef & Arpels presented the figurative Peau d'Ane ("Donkey's skin"), a year ago - the predominantly abstract Seven Seas, so the fact that it was Pierres de Caractère's turn this year did not come as a big surprise for connoisseurs of the history of the house. … It could be assumed, much more difficult - to imagine the scope.
First shown at the end of June in Geneva, the Émeraude en Majesté collection was dedicated to "emeralds with character" - truly unique Colombian and Zambian stones, the total weight of which in 55 pieces of jewelry was 1400 carats. For this collection, gemologists at home have selected stones for over ten years. “I am often asked whether a piece of jewelry starts with a design or a stone, and usually there are both in a collection, but at Émeraude en Majesté it definitely starts with stones. The main roles in the creation of this collection were played not by designers, but by gemologists,”says Bose. Cutters at Van Cleef & Arpels also played an equally important role.and independent lapidaries from the ateliers with which the house collaborates - many stones were re-cut specifically for Émeraude en Majesté, and this is not only about improving the cut (and according to Van Cleef & Arpels standards, only stones whose symmetry and polished is rated as Very Good or Excellent), often the stone was faceted to fit the place in the decoration allotted to it. The cut of emeralds, like other colored gemstones, is very different from the cut of colorless diamonds, built on accurate calculation - it requires a lot more intuition. So, you can literally change the color of a stone that has a zonal color by applying one facet - the facet will either enhance the color, or vice versa, discolor the stone.
It is not the first time that Van Cleef & Arpels has been working with rare emeralds. It is no coincidence that the ballet "Jewels", which Balanchine was inspired by the decorations of the French house, is divided into three parts - "Diamonds", "Rubies" and - "Emeralds".
Among the famous jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels there is also a double-row necklace with seventeen emeralds (total weight 70 carats), purchased in 1935 by King Edward VIII for his beloved Wallis Simpson. And also created in 1929 (and renewed in 1940 by order of Princess Faiza, sister of the Egyptian king Farouk) necklace with ten antique emeralds - in November 2013 it was sold at Christie's for $ 4.2 million. And, finally, phenomenal ornaments made by order of one of the main clients of the house in its entire history - Sita Devi (Maharani of Baroda).
One of the main works of jewelers Van Cleef & Arpels with emeralds is the crown for the future empress of Iran, Farah Pahlavi. The order was placed just eleven months before her coronation in November 1967, but the complexity was not only the tight deadline. After the approval of Farah, Pierre Arpels had to choose the stones for the crown from the vault of the Central Bank of Iran. For the crown, an impressive collection of different gemstones was selected, including thousands of diamonds and 143 emeralds, chief among which are the central crown stones, two engraved emeralds weighing 50 and 150 carats.
But the Émeraude en Majesté collection is not only an occasion to recall the chapters of its glorious history. This is also an extremely correct move in many respects. This is also an excellent solution for our difficult times, when the cost of a rare stone is an important factor when purchasing jewelry, even if it is of the most incredible design.
The stone itself is also something that can ideologically combine stylistically completely different things into one collection, objects for every taste, and in Émeraude en Majesté there is flora, fauna, geometric Art Deco, and orientalism. It is also a way to attract the attention of completely different collectors. As Nicolas Bose told me: “It is not so easy to understand how collectors make their choice, but you can conventionally designate several categories. For example, there are those who buy items of the same plan - there are collectors of our butterfly brooches or Zip necklaces, and there are those who, on the contrary, strive to supplement their collection with something completely new every year, guided by something like this logic: if I have a dancer brooch already there, now I need an abstract decoration with stones in an invisible setting."
Émeraude en Majesté has it all: butterflies and dragonflies, dancer brooches, Zip necklaces, and invisible setting jewelry. Of the branded themes, only precious minaudier handbags remained uncovered. But, perhaps, they will also appear in Émeraude en Majesté, because, as the gemologists of Van Cleef & Arpels say, more stones were purchased than were selected for the jewelry presented in Geneva. Some of them are still waiting in the wings, and among these people on the waiting list are an amazingly colored emerald weighing over 10 carats and a set of Afghan emerald beads weighing several hundred carats. While Van Cleef & Arpels is deciding which jewelry they will be the center of.
Most of the stones already registered in the Émeraude en Majesté have become the center of transforming jewelry, another Van Cleef & Arpels signature theme. Brooches here become part of a necklace, earrings change length, elements in jewelry are turned over … Some jewelry can be worn in five different ways, so the collection could be called “Metamorphoses of Emeralds”.
The emeralds themselves are more than worthy of such technical difficulties. They are distinguished not only by their carat, rich color, but also - which is actually rare for them - by purity. In some jewelry, it is simply amazing. Indeed, unlike diamonds and compared to the same corundums, there are much more inclusions in emeralds. In Émeraude en Majesté there are truly unique stones with almost no inclusions visible to the naked eye. Two of these, for example, are used in the Twist Émeraude bracelet. It is also notable for its rather non-standard color scheme, set off by the deep green color of emeralds by colorless diamonds and … purple sapphires.
Another set - Grand Opus - is also interesting in its cut. It uses vintage engraved Colombian emeralds (total weight 127.88 carats). Van Cleef & Arpels does not disclose their origin, they only say that such stones can be purchased from private dealers both as part of an antique jewelry or already removed from it. Another amazing emerald in the collection has a modern cushion cut. The 26.43-carat stone became the center of a necklace made of colorless diamonds, but not only it is a great success of gemologists in this jewelry. Another amazing creation of nature is a natural white baroque pearl. Emphasizing its value, Van Cleef & Arpelsdecided, contrary to tradition, not to report the size in millimeters, but to indicate the weight in carats, as is done with the conch or melo, and this is 26.82 carats.
And each of these jewelry is more than convincing proof of the greatness of the emerald. Now we can only assume that in the future we will see no less impressive odes to other stones. At least rubies and diamonds, as in the famous Balanchine's Jewels.>