Understand­ing The History Behind Van Cleef Jewelry

Van Cleef jewelry is one of the signature brands out there, but not a lot of people may understand the name’s humble beginnings, and how it slowly progressed to become a household name among people who are looking for the most quality offerings possible. Here’s a little bit of insight n how this came to be.

The Van Cleef story started with Estelle Arpels meeting Alfred Van Cleef, the son of a stonecutter. The young couple, with a shared passion for blazing new frontiers and precious stones, would end up marrying in 1895. A year afterward, Estelle’s father, precious stones dealer, Salomon Arpels, started up a jewelry business with Alfred start a jewelry business. After Salomon Arpels’ passing in 1906, Van Cleef and Arpels’ son, Charles Arpels, would found the Parisian boutique, the Maison of Van Cleef & Arpels. They would be among the first jewelers to set up in this location, just across the street from the Hotel Ritz. Estelle’s two other brothers would eventually join in, starting  Van Cleef & Arpels in earnest.

The family would reap a great deal of success, winning the grand prize at 1925’s International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts. They would also innovate new jewelry techniques during this time, like the “Mystery Set,” where stones are set in a way that no prongs are visible. Taking more than 300 hours to create, this practice is used today, but only a few Mystery Set pieces are done each year. When World War II broke out, some members of the family grew their operations in the U.S, including opening up the famous New York City boutique on 744 Fifth Avenue in 1942.

At this point, it’s over 110 years since the first Van Cleef & Arpels boutique opened, and its legacy is assured. Today, there are standalone stores in

  • New York
  • Milan
  • Beverly Hills
  • Shanghai,
  • Houston
  • Palm Beach
  • Geneva

along with a variety of other cities. Also notable is the way that Van Cleef jewelry has come to incorporate other international influences over the years, like from India and Japan. The Van Cleef brand is still going strong, clearly, but when it comes to adding some value to your jewelry collection, it’s going to be some of those pieces from the earlier days that naturally draw the most interest (and price). There’s still the chance to own these beautiful pieces of history for yourself. Check out your local auction house to see if there are any Van Cleef pieces selling at auction in Fort Lauderdale.