An Attractive Cultured Pearl and Diamond Bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels

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Origin of Name

The name refers to an exquisitely crafted cultured pearl and diamond bracelet designed by Van Cleef & Arpels that appeared at the Christie's "Jewels : The Geneva Sale" held on May 12, 2010, at the Geneva - Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues. Despite being a jewelry piece incorporating cultured pearls, it made a significant impact at the auctions, by registering a hammer price of CHF 117,000 (US$ 105,604), much above the upper pre-sale estimate of CHF 85,000 (US$ 76,707), a price that was on par with similar pieces containing natural pearls, that seemed to go against the general belief that only antique pieces containing natural pearls commanded premium prices at public auctions. The enhanced price realized by this cultured pearl bracelet, clearly showed, that even good quality cultured pearls incorporated in exquisitely crafted pieces of modern jewelry, can stand on its own and compete with any antique piece containing natural pearls, commanding competitive hammer prices at public auctions, on par or even above those registered by pieces containing natural pearls.

 

Characteristics of the Cultured Pearl and Diamond Bracelet

The designing style of the bracelet belongs to a style introduced in the 1940s and 1950s known as " bombé  design"

The bracelet having an inner circumference of 17 cm (6.7 inches), was designed by Van Cleef & Arpels, New York, in 1965. The bracelet set with five rows of cultured pearls is designed in the  bombé style, a jewelry designing style introduced in the 1940s and 1950s.  Bombé in French means "cambered," meaning a slightly arching upward curve or convexity, which simply means "curving or bulging outward." In respect of jewelry it refers to a dome-shaped setting often seen in rings and earrings from the 40s and 50s. For bangles and bracelets the term refers to an outwardly curving or bulging outer surface for such pieces, while the inner surface usually remains normal and straight. The design as applied to the cultured pearl and diamond bracelet under consideration, seems to conform to a large extent to the definition given above, with the outer surface of the bracelet curving outwards on all sides except the inner surface.

An attractive cultured pearl and diamond bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels

An attractive cultured pearl and diamond bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels

 © Christie's

Design features of the bracelet

The bracelet is set with five rows of cultured pearls, with 22 pearls in each row. Thus, there are a total of 110  spherical cultured pearls in this unique bracelet. The bracelet is unique, because unlike other bracelets made of pearls, in which the pearls are converted to beads and strung together as strands, the pearls in this bracelet are not constituted into strands, but are set individually on cup-shaped receptacles on the metal frame of the bracelet, probably on spikes or wires arising from it. The partially drilled pearls are secured on these spikes or wires. Collet-set diamond spacers are placed between the pearls in the three inner rows of the bracelet. There are 22 collet-set diamonds in each of these rows. Thus, there are a total of 66 collet-set diamonds on the bracelet. The diamonds are round brilliant-cut, and the collet is funnel-shaped, with a narrow stem, and rising from the surface of the white-gold or platinum frame of the bracelet.

 

Characteristics of the cultured pearls

Being cultured pearls, the shape of the pearls are almost uniform and are consistently spherical or near-spherical. This is a distinguishing feature for cultured pearls, as opposed to the variety of shapes found in jewelry pieces containing natural pearls. The size of the pearls are not given, but are medium sized pearls, probably falling within the upper range of cultured Akoya pearls whose range in size is from 3 mm to 8 mm, or the lower range of cultured South Sea pearls, whose range in size is 9 mm to 20 mm. The color of the pearls are silvery-white, in which the body color is white and silver the overtone color. The silvery-white color is common for both Akoya cultured pearls and cultured South Sea pearls. The luster and orient of the pearls are also in keeping with their saltwater origins. The surface quality of the pearls are also exceptional and appear to be blemish-free. Thus, based on the estimated size and color, the pearls could probably be either cultured Akoya pearls or cultured South Sea pearls.

 

History of the Cultured Pearl and Diamond Bracelet

The cultured pearls incorporated in the bracelet are most probably Akoya pearls originating from Japan

The bracelet was designed by the expert craftsmen of Van Cleef & Arpels, New York, in the year 1965. Around this time most of the saltwater cultured pearls in the international pearl markets, originated in Japan, and were known as Akoya pearls. Some cultured South Sea pearls from Australia's experimental farms may also have reached the markets during this period, but cultured South Sea pearls in large quantities appeared in the international markets only in the mid-1970s, after successful culturing techniques were developed by Nicholas Paspaley and his team of scientists and technicians. Thus, even though based on the size and color of the pearls, they could be either Akoya or South Sea cultured pearls, in terms of the availability of these pearls during the period the necklace was designed, it appears that the cultured pearls incorporated in the cultured pearl and diamond bracelet, are most probably Akoya cultured pearls originating in Japan.

 

Possible reasons for the enhanced price realized by the cultured pearl and diamond bracelet.

The cultured pearl and diamond bracelet, assigned lot no.205 and listed as "An Attractive Cultured Pearl And Diamond Bracelet, by Van Cleef & Arpels" came up for auction at the Christie's "Jewels : The Geneva Sale" on May 12, 2010, at the Geneva : Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues. A pre-sale estimate of CHF 65,000 to 85,000 (US$ 58,659 - 76,707) was placed on the bracelet. However, the price registered by the bracelet went beyond all expectations. The price realized was CHF 117,000 (US$ 105,604), which was US$ 28,897  more than the upper pre-sale estimate. The enhanced price realized by the bracelet, despite the fact that its main component was cultured pearls, was probably due to the high-quality of the pearls, coupled with the unique and exquisite design features. The collet-set, 66 brilliant-cut diamonds in the bracelet, would also have made a significant contribution to the its final price, as well as the renowned brand name of the designers, Van Cleef & Arpels.

 

A short history of  Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry and watch company

The founding of the company in 1896, by Salomon Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef

Van Cleef & Arpels, the internationally renowned high-end jewelry and watch manufacturing firm, patronized by royal and imperial courts, financiers, industrial magnates, and celebrities, was founded in 1896, by Salomon Arpels, a precious stone dealer and his son-in-law Alfred Van Cleef, who had married Esther Arpels in the same year. The company opened its first boutique 10 years later, in 1906, at No.22, Place Vendome, the same year the company's trade mark was registered. The company prospered and was later joined by Esther's brothers, Salomon, Jules and Louis Arpels. New boutiques were opened in renowned holiday resorts, such as Monte Carlo, Nice, Le Touquet and Deauville. Alfred Van Cleef died in 1938, leaving behind his daughter, Renee Rachel Puissant. Eventually a second generation of the Arpels family was in control of the destinies of the company.

 

Emigration to America in 1942 and opening of the first boutique in 5th Avenue, New York

The Arpels family emigrated to America in 1942, where they opened their first boutique on 5th Avenue in New York. The company also became the first French Jewelers to open boutiques in Japan and China.

 

Van Cleef & Arpels is acquired by the Swiss based Compagnie Financiere Richemont S.A. in 1999

The company, that was under the control of the Arpels family for over a century, was finally acquired in 1999, by the Swiss luxury goods company, Compagnie Financiere Richemont S.A. the 3rd largest group of luxury goods companies in the world by turnover, with 16 fully owned subsidiaries which includes Van Cleef & Arpels. The range of products in which the different companies of the group specialize, include jewelry, watches, writing instruments, clothing and fashion accessories including perfumes. Van Cleef & Arpels still maintains its role as one of the leading players in the high-end jewelry market, preserving its tradition of turning out products of the highest quality, incorporating the finest materials and the best designs.

 

Milestone creations in the company's history

The company's history in jewelry creations, is marked by several milestone creations, such as the diamond, ruby and emerald bracelet, with a "red and white roses in bloom" motif, that won the first prize at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts, held in Paris in 1925. Other creations included the Minaudiere, a small precious box in 1930; the Cadenas (Padlock) wristwatch in 1936; the Passe Partout bracelet in 1939; the ultra slim round watch in 1949; the Zip necklace in 1950; the Alhambra necklace in 1968; etc. The company also became renowned for the use of its "mystery setting" of precious stones without visible claws. 

 

You are welcome to discuss this post/related topics with Dr Shihaan and other experts from around the world in our FORUMS (forums.internetstones.com)

     Back to Famous Pearls

 

Related :-

1) Cartier's Art Deco Pearl, Diamond and Turquoise Bracelet

2) Cultured Pearl, Turquoise and Diamond Ear Clips, Art Deco Cultured Pearl and Diamond Bracelet

 

External Links

1) Christie's "Jewels : The Geneva Sale" 1374, May 12, 2010. Lot No.205 - An Attractive Cultured Pearl and Diamond Bracelet, by Van Cleef & Arpels.

 

References :-

1) Christie's "Jewels : The Geneva Sale" 1374, May 12, 2010. Lot No.205 - An Attractive Cultured Pearl and Diamond Bracelet, by Van Cleef & Arpels.

 2) Common Jewelry Definitions - www.jewelryfinest.com

3) Meaning of word "Cambered" - www.dictionaryreference.com

4) Van Cleef & Arpels - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

5) Richemont - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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