Hamburger Heiress Jean Vanderbilt in Van Cleef & Arpels

You’d never know by looking at Jean Vanderbilt (née Harvey) that she comes from a family of meat packers and hamburger hawkers. You also wouldn’t guess that her two glittering Van Cleef & Arpels pearl, diamond, and yellow gold bracelets could become a necklace by joining their decorative clasps. That’s not all: The pearl strands, laid flat in this photo, also could be twisted to make the final piece longer or shorter.

“Transformation was a signature of Van Cleef & Arpels,” says Nicolas Luchsinger, the jeweler’s retail director. “Pieces transformed from bracelets to necklaces and more. You can really play with this type of jewelry, which is its purpose.” Vanderbilt’s dangling diamond earrings also were changeable: The bottom blossoms detach for more casual wear. Only her pearl ring—set in a yellow gold tutu setting (named for its resemblance to a ballerina’s fluffy skirt)—was unalterable.

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