Mystery has long been a recurring theme in Van Cleef & Arpels’ designs. The Parisian jeweller is famed for its patented Mystery Set, a technique where gemstones are set without using any visible prongs. Then there’s the brand’s extensive repertoire of secret watches, where timepieces are disguised with elaborate shapes and bejewelled façades to resemble bracelets. A key example is its Rubis Secret watch, a Mozambique ruby-encrusted beauty that was unveiled at last year’s SIHH fair.
For 2017, this penchant for mystery and wonder is manifested in Van Cleef & Arpels’ new Le Secret high jewellery collection, which comprises over 100 transformable pieces and jewels with hidden mechanisms.
Noteworthy items include the lavish Pégase necklace, which is mounted with a juicy 45.10-carat, emerald-cut Sri Lankan sapphire framed by intertwining lines of diamonds and emeralds. What’s remarkable about this jewel is its central pendant that conceals a miniature Pegasus figurine in white gold. This is flanked by two other detachable pendants.
Equally stunning is the Cachette des Coccinelles brooch, which is crafted with a cushion-cut Zambian emerald and dainty leaves fashioned in white gold, platinum, pink gold and diamonds. Nestled on one of the leaves is an adorable ladybird made from black and red spinels — it can be hidden or displayed simply by moving the leaf right next to it.
We also can’t take our eyes off the flower-shaped Pétale de Papillon clip, which features yellow gold petals bedecked with yellow and mauve sapphires, and a white gold stem studded diamonds, emeralds, and spessartite and tsavorite garnets. Move aside one of the petals, and one will find a a delicate onyx and sugilite butterfly clip resting on the flower’s corolla.
Another butterfly-inspired design is the Papillon secret watch, composed of a stunning black and green bracelet embellished with two symmetrical butterfly motifs. The jewel is festooned with a central 14.57-carat Colombian emerald, surrounded by black spinels, onyx details, and many smaller emeralds and diamonds. Underneath a pair of the butterfly’s lower wings is a hidden white mother-of-pearl dial. Telling the time has never looked as luxurious.
Le Secret has some incredible rings as well. A standout is the Fleur Bleue ring, which is mounted with a cushion-cut, 5.13-carat Burmese sapphire and a glittering array of emeralds, Paraíba-like tourmalines, and diamonds of various cuts. A quarter-turn of its top part reveals a hidden, poignant quote from Oscar Wilde: “Une vie sans amour est comme un jardin sans soleil (A life without love is like a sunless garden).”
Also available in Le Secret are long necklaces, earrings and bracelets, many of which are equipped with hidden features and detachable components. Evidently, this new collection is a magnificent celebration of Van Cleef & Arpels’ finesse in jewellery-making — and is undoubtedly one of the most exciting haute joaillerie lines to be released this year.