Watches & Jewellery

Diving into the culture of gemstones at Van Cleef & Arpels

"Every stone has a soul of its own" — Claude Arpels.
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It isn’t a Van Cleef & Arpels original if it isn’t decked out in the most spectacular gemstones. Alright, that’s not necessarily true—there have been plenty of bare-bones creations spotted at Van Cleef & Arpels throughout the years, many of which have made the industry’s Hall of Fame—but you get the idea.

Claude Arpels, the nephew of Estelle Arpels, one of the founding figures of the jewellery house, was especially known for his genuine interest in precious stones. He would travel to the far-flung corners of the world just to catch a glimpse at those marvels of nature.

His passion for them was so notable to the point he was hailed as the “Diamond King of Bombay” or the “Friend of the Maharajas” by the press. These are befitting monikers for him as he had then made at least ten visits to India— which he referred to as his “jewel safaris”—to satiate his hunger for gemstones.

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This reverence continues to echo at Van Cleef & Arpels as the maison journeys into the new millennium. The Pierres de Caractère collection that was unveiled in 2006 has become the brand’s own ambassador in parading an unrivalled excellence in the sourcing and styling of gemstones.

More recently, in 2016, the jeweller debuted the Émeraude en Majesté high jewellery collection starring emeralds of over 1,400 carats. It’s a feat made possible by the refinement of skills and an eye developed through three generations of experts over the course of more than a century.

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To ensure that the stones live up to the brand’s stature as one of the world’s most storied jewellery houses, Van Cleef & Arpels uses the criteria listed by the Gemological Institute of America as its barometer. The diamond certification standard elaborates on the familiar 4Cs—colour, clarity, cut and carat of the stone.

Not stopping there, the maison raises the bar with an additional box to be ticked off, the fifth “C”, which stands for character. Every diamond is thoroughly examined for its fire, brightness and ultimate brilliance, and the same stringent selection process is applied to coloured gemstones.

For each stone, expert gemologists pay particular attention to the colour, the weight and cut, the shape as well as the inherent beauty of the stone. In selecting its emeralds, for instance, Van Cleef & Arpels puts an emphasis on their intensity of colour and radiance.

Outstanding gemstones have become a legacy that defines the maison and today, that legacy is carried on by expert stone buyers who are on a constant quest for stones that fire the imagination in the modern-day Van Cleef & Arpels women.

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