A Van Cleef & Arpels Necklace Makes a Statement at Sotheby’s

The phrase statement piece gets bandied about a lot in jewelry. Yet it was hefty, dazzling designs like this ruby and diamond necklace, crafted in 1971 by Van Cleef & Arpels, that gave rise to the concept of a jewel being so uncommonly bold, its message is pure declaration. The necklace didn’t earn its latest sky-high price—$826,644 at Sotheby’s in Geneva Nov. 16–17—on looks alone. The piece once belonged to Princess Salimah Aga Khan; it was purchased for her in 1995 at a Christie’s sale. “It has great associated provenance,” says David Bennett, worldwide chairman of the international jewelry division at Sotheby’s. Also, the necklace, which boasts a central portion that can be detached and worn as a brooch, “anticipates the fashion for yellow gold, colored stones, and diamonds that would take hold some five years later.”

Van Cleef & Arpels necklace with cabochon-cut rubies and brilliant-cut diamonds, circa 1971 (photo: courtesy of Sotheby’s)

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