Honouring The Female Form
Prestige Singapore|November 2021
There are jewellers who make jewellery for women and there are jewellers who celebrate femininity in both form and spirit. Zhuan Lee delves into the enchanting world of Van Cleef & Arpels, where the feminine form is embraced like no other.
Zhuan Lee

The universe of Van Cleef & Arpels is built upon the three main elements of fantasy, wonder and poetry. Through spectacular creations that evoke a sense of magic and mystique, the revered French jeweller has also long celebrated the beauty of the feminine form through its unforgettable fairies and ballerinas.

During and after the war in the 1940s, the Maison began incorporating fairies into its artistic universe. Possessing magical powers, this imaginary race was believed to evoke hope and healing, which were both much needed in those turbulent times. As Van Cleef & Arpels creations have long revolved around the theme of fantasy and poetry since its beginnings, fairies were a natural extension of its jewellery repertoire.

The dainty, sprightly, delicate and mystical characteristics of fairies were never easy to express through the art of high jewellery. However, together with its team of Mains d’Or (the term by which Van Cleefs & Arpels’ master craftsmen are lovingly known as), the house successfully dreamt up lifelike, expressive and soon-to-be iconic fairy clips reimagined in the feminine form.

Meticulously sculpted by master artisans, Van Cleef & Arpels’ fairies and ballerinas emulate the curvaceous female form in the most naturalistic way. It is said that Maison's artisans spend significant amounts of time observing ballerinas in action to observe how their bodies are angled with every graceful movement.

Lithe silhouettes of dancers and fairies are then depicted in realistic sketches. Next, the feminine figures are brought to life by sculpting their bodies in green wax, which enable the Mains d’Or to follow every curve and movement of their forms as closely as possible before they are shaped in gold. If you look closely, many of these fairies and ballerinas often have faces crafted out of a rose-cut diamond, adorned with a headdress festooned in a myriad of gemstones.

CELESTIAL BEINGS

For their latest high jewellery collection titled Sous les Étoiles, Van Cleef & Arpels drew inspiration from the mysterious cosmos and presented a series of creations based on stars and planets. The collection also celebrates the feminine form with several fairy clips. This time, they are realised as graceful déesses or goddesses of the celestial realm in the form of Déesse Mercure, Déesse Neptune and Fée Cassiopée clips, which are all unique pieces.

The Mercury goddess clip features a 5.1-carat white opal cabochon representing the planet complemented by rays of yellow gold, as well as diamonds, rubies and pink sapphires set in tiered gradient, deftly mimicking the graceful twirl of the goddess’ dress.

The Neptune goddess and Cassiopée fairy clips are resplendent in shades of blue and white. The former features lapis lazuli with an intense blue shade, in the form of a disc as well as a cabochon, and sapphires in gradated tones highlighted by yellow gold contours. The latter, a majestic personification of the constellation Cassiopeia, has her entire dress set with blue and mauve sapphires that mingle with diamonds set in star-shaped motifs.

Over the past year, the jeweller also added seven new fairy clips to its creations, all of which draw from nature and literature. Staying true to its faithful interpretation of the female physique, these novelties transport beholders into the magical world of legends and myths through their graceful and fantastical forms.

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