Founded in 1896, the French jewellery house, Van Cleef & Arpels, first came to prominence in the late 1920s. It distinguishied itself through the technical creation of the ‘The Mystery Setting’ that enabled gemstones to be snugly set against each other, whilst concealing the setting beneath. The end result is one of unbroken colour without the mounting being visible.
Yet the more amazing achievement was the creation of the iconic zip necklace.
In 1938, the Duchess of Windsor, suggested to the Maison’s artistic director, Renèe Puissant, that she should design a piece inspired by the humble zipper.
The technical challenges of creating a fully functional zipper mechanism with a sliding fastener in gold, took more than 12 years to solve. The zipper’s design allowed it to be convertible – unzipped it could be worn as a necklace or, fully zipped it transformed into a bracelet. Stunning is the word that comes to mind.
The necklace was not finished until 1950. It was fashioned in round and baguette-cut diamonds and mounted in platinum immediately achieving unique status.
Through the 1950s the zip necklace was designed and produced in various forms and remains an iconic element of Van Cleef & Arpels’ collections.
Brilliant, and legendary, the amazing technical proficiency of this timeless piece ensures Van Cleef & Arpel is now arguably one of the most prestigious haute jewellery houses in the world.