Before all those diamond-encrusted money clips, pearl hooks and gold vermeil straws, there was the Zip necklace that burst onto the scene for its radical approach to jewellery-making. Van Cleef & Arpels is widely deemed as one of the jewellers, if not the first jeweller, to elevate everyday objects to high jewellery status since it began mining the mundane zipper as inspiration for the aforementioned necklace.
Thanks to the Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson, whose legendary love story with King Edward VIII was marked by many creations from Van Cleef & Arpels, the innovative necklace came to fruition in 1950. She was the one who suggested to Renée Puissant, the Maison's then-artistic director, to create a piece based on the zipper after this type of fastener started to appear on garments at the time.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, Puissant went back to the drawing board and came up with the original necklace that’s made of two gold ribbons bordered with tiny hooks that fit into one another and embellished with exquisite diamonds.
Granted freedom of movement like a real slide fastener, the necklace also parades the brand’s savoir faire in crafting transformative jewels as it seamlessly morphs into a bracelet upon closing.
To imbue the Zip necklace with that playful element while retaining an impossibly soft feel to the touch is no mean feat. Van Cleef & Arpels has gone above and beyond to accord the necklace with a sense of flexibility as it employs its articulation technique and finesses every detail of the creation to perfect the graceful drape of the piece around the neck and on the wrist.
Over the years, the Zip necklace has been revisited in various forms, from being reimagined with monochromatic gems to being injected with Oriental undertones. The Zip Antique necklace, for instance, is a faithful reproduction of the original model as it can be worn as a necklace or bracelet.
Meanwhile, the Zip Couture long necklace is designed to adorn a décolleté or a bareback.