Salomon Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef
Van Cleef & Arpels is a French jewellery, watch, and perfume company that was founded in 1896 by Salomon Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef. They opened their first boutique in 1906 at 22 place Vendï¿½me, Paris. Van Cleef & Arpels are renowned for their expertise in precious stones and have won particular acclaim for a groundbreaking gem-setting procedure known as the Mystery Setting.
In 1896, Esther Arpels, the daughter of Salomon Arpels, a dealer in precious stones, married Alfred Van Cleef, whose family were sheet merchants living in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. That same year, Alfred Van Cleef and Salomon Arpels had already established a company with the aim of ï¿½founding and running a jewellery businessï¿½. In 1906, they registered the ï¿½Van Cleef & Arpelsï¿½ trademark and opened a boutique at 22 place Vendï¿½me. They were soon joined by Estherï¿½s brothers, Salomon, Jules and Louis Arpels. Alfred Van Cleef died in 1938, leaving his daughter, Renï¿½e Rachel Puissant, behind him. From 1909 to 1939, Van Cleef & Arpels prospered and opened boutiques in holiday resorts such as Deauville, Le Touquet, Nice and Monte-Carlo.
Progressively, the second generation joined the business. In 1942, the Arpels family emigrated to America and opened their first boutique in New York, on 5th Avenue. Later, Van Cleef & Arpels became the first French jewellers to open boutiques in Japan and China. Over the years, the firm was always managed by a descendant of the Arpels family, until it was acquired by the Compagnie Financiï¿½re Richemont S.A. in 1999. The companyï¿½s prestige stems from a long list of prominent commissions issued by royal and imperial courts, financiers and industrial magnates, which have enabled Van Cleef & Arpels to be active today not only in Europe and the United States, but also in Asia and the Middle East.
In 2009, the company released a line of luxury perfumes called Collection Extraordinaire, comprising six fragrances.
Faithful to the spirit of their founders, each piece of Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery is designed to enhance the beauty of exceptional stones. Although Van Cleef & Arpels has purchased exceptional pieces, it has also brought rare stones, such as aquamarines, mandarin garnets and rubellites, to light. Van Cleef & Arpels sometimes choose to highlight the poetry of more unexpected materials, such as mother-of-pearl, snakewood and lacquer.
Since their inception, Van Cleef & Arpels have been associated with events that have marked the lives of princely, royal and imperial families around the world, like that of His Royal Highness Don Antonio of Orlï¿½ans and Grand Duke Dmitri in the 1920s, Princess de Faucigny Lucinge, Baron Thyssen, the Duchess of Windsor and the Duke of Westminster in the 1930s, Queen Nazli and King Farouk of Egypt, Baron James de Rothschild, Countesses de Rohan Chabot and dï¿½Harcourt, the Maharani of Baroda, Princess de Rï¿½thy, then King Baudoin of Belgium, Princess von Turn und Taxis, the Marquis of Cuevas, Queen Sirikit of Thailand in the 1950s, and then, in the following decades, Baron Guy de Rothschild, the Queen of Spain, the Princess of Wales, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, the Aga Khan family, etc. Numerous actresses have also favoured Van Cleef & Arpels jewels. Examples of faithful clients include Madeleine Carroll, Michï¿½le Morgan, Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Liz Taylor, Claudia Cardinale, Romy Schneider, Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Charlotte Rampling, Chiara Mastroianni, Sharon Stone, Kristin Scott Thomas, Julia Roberts, Uma Thurman, Zhang Ziyi, Carole Bouquet, Diane Kruger, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Coppola, and many more. To all of these beauties can be added dancers and singers such as Mistinguett, Zizi Jeanmaire, Maria Callas, Lili Pons, and more recently, Annie Lennox, Mariah Carey, Madonna, Sheryl Crow, as well as exceptional men and women such as Florence Jay Gould, Barbara Hutton and Jacqueline Kennedy.