The cover of my Set in Style book chronicling the 2011 Van Cleef & Arpels retrospective at the Cooper Hewitt museum in New York City got damaged when I left a window open that time a tornado touched down smack-dab in the middle of Park Slope, Brooklyn. But I remember well that it was graced with a Mystery Set brooch heaped with hundreds of rubies.
The vibrant red stone, evocative of unimaginable luxury, and the deepest of passions, is dear to the maison’s DNA. It goes all the way back to its founding in 1906 and especially during the Art Deco era, when the gem glistened from designs that became style icons, from Marlene Dietrich’s Jarretière bracelet to the cascading Windsor necklace worn by a certain American heiress.
So it’s fitting that Van Cleef & Arpels’ new high jewelry collection is entirely dedicated to rubies. And this is no petite capsule highlighting just a few masterpieces, but rather an extravaganza of color and craftsmanship encompassing more than 3,000 carats of certified rubies across 60 unique creations.
Not surprisingly, it took years for the maison to amass such a treasure trove of material. Selected individually, the collection’s rubies endow the compositions with unique personality, bringing all the subtleties of the original gouache designs to life with a magical, magnified display of fire and color intensity.
While each piece is one of a kind, they collectively allude to Van Cleef & Arpels’ design signatures—botanical imagery, couture-inspired motifs, the art of transformation, asymmetry, and the maison’s famous Mystery Set technique.
For example, the Feuille de Rubis ring is formed by shapely, unfurling leaves that curl around, and create a nest for a diamond center stone that could be standing in for an exotic blossom or a shimmering cocoon.
Couture details, like the sweep of an elegant train and thoughtfully placed, artfully tied bows, are invoked in the Rivières necklace, while the dramatic Elsa collar subtly references the work of designer Elsa Schiaparelli, as well as her handwriting’s loops and swirls, with its overlapping, intertwining ruby-encrusted links of pink gold laced with a ribbon of diamonds.
And Van Cleef & Arpels’ famous Between the Finger rings, which marry dual motifs in a single design, have been essential to the house’s stable of jewelry style icons since the 1970s. The latest iteration is inspired by kolams—ephemeral Indian artwork created with grains of rice.
See more from the Treasure of Rubies collection below.
Top: Jardin de Rubis necklace with a detachable clip featuring an 18.12 ct. cushion-cut ruby, rubies, and pink and white diamonds in white and pink goldFollow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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