The famous jewellery house Van Cleef & Arpels is admirably represented at the 4 annual sales of the Aguttes jewellery department.
Van Cleef & Arpels’ sumptuous creations with vegetal decorations are proof of the ingenuity and virtuosity of this great house that marries the most beautiful stones to metal so well. The stones, in ruby, sapphire or emerald colours, are sublimated by the famous Mysterious Setting, invented by Van Cleef & Arpels. Van Cleef & Arpels stands out for its strikingly realistic creations, which are an apology for nature, which it associates not only with elegance but also with feminine freshness. This is what made it famous as early as 1925 with the iconic “rose” bracelet, which won the international Grand Prix at the Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts Exhibition in Paris. Adjustable jewellery, according to the desires of its owner, who transforms it in the twinkling of an eye from a brooch to a pendant or from a necklace to a bracelet, Van Cleef & Arpels has never stopped innovating.
At the beginning of the 1950s the Arpels brothers decided to create a Boutique department within the jewellery house. Every year, this department presents a “youthful spirit” collection in a very limited series with the same rigour in the quality of manufacture as for Haute Joaillerie jewellery. Some creations are so successful that they become reference jewels and remain several years in the collections. Charms and brooches are once again in vogue, in gold, gold and precious, semi-precious or hard stones. It is important to note the diversity of inspirations and to highlight a fantastic humorous bestiary of which we propose in these sales many models: the “Mischievous Cat” which appears for the first time in the 1954 collection, then the “Scruffy Lion” which is created in 1962. The immense success of these “lucky” animals was commensurate with the variety of models; squirrel, fennec, sparrow, duck, turtle, rabbit, giraffe, bull… to name but a few. Throughout the collections many flowers were declined, the most famous being the “Christmas Rose” in white or pink coral, but also “bow”, “butterfly”, “Eiffel Tower”…. Just as symbolic as the “Zodiac” charms created in 1958, it was in 1968 that the first “Alhambra” necklace was designed in yellow gold. A symbol of luck par excellence, it features a polylobé four-leaf motif and, like many creations of the mid-1960s, is available set in hard stone, coral, onyx, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, agate… It became emblematic of the House of Van Cleef and Arpels to the point that we still find it in the shop windows of the Boutique. Original creations such as the “twist” set, composed of a string of pearls, coral, lapis lazuli, turquoise, chrysoprase and gold, are typical of the period. The gold work is still present and the round gold threads are gradually replaced by twisted, engraved or inlaid threads.
News and market trends
The creations of the beginning of the last century are still the most sought-after. However, the dynamism of the parent company (monthly conferences, exhibitions, opening of a school) gives a new impetus to this famous house on Place Vendôme, which is also seen at auctions, particularly for jewellery from the 1950s – 1970s.
Just back from the overflowing creativity of this jewellery house in the second half of the 20th century, the selling prices have increased enormously over the last few years. We appreciate these jewels very marked by the style of the house which frees itself from traditional references for both Van Cleef and Arpels “Paris” and “New York”. With the launch of the “La boutique” collections, they offer more accessible, less high jewellery that accompanies women in this new world that is opening up to them.
This is now illustrated through the auction battles that took place during the Aguttes sales: A very large necklace decorated with “Lion” muffles and its matching ear clips is going back to New York for €51,000. An impressive stoneless gold set was sold for €42,000, and a necklace with a large matching pendant in coral and chrysoprase gold, a fashionable mixture in the 1970s, was won at €33,000 by an amateur. The quality of these jewels is also an asset since Van Cleef and Arpels has a tradition of using workshops with the best know-how, such as Maison Pery or Maison Georges Lenfant (such as this important “flower” clip made by the Pery workshops for VCA, which sold for €28,000.