Van Cleef & Arpels is a French company that sells luxury jewellery, watches and perfume. This company is famous because of its fine and luxury jewellery, “Mystery Setting” technique and annual collections. Pieces made by this company often contain birds, animals, flowers and fairies.

The History of Van Cleef & Arpels

The history of this company began in 1895 when Alfred Van Cleef married Estelle Arpels. Alfred Van Cleef was the son of a stonecutter and Estelle Arpels was the daughter of a dealer of precious stones, so they both shared their love for precious stones.

In 1896, Estelle’s father, Solomon Arpels, helped Alfred start his own jewellery company. After the death of Solomon Arpels, his son Charles Arpels and his son-in-law Alfred Van Cleef registered the name “Van Cleef & Arpels” and opened a boutique at 22 Place Vendôme, Paris, across the street from the Hôtel Ritz, which was a magnet for wealthy European and American customers. Slowly after the opening, Estelle’s two brothers – Julien and Louis joined the company. This boutique slowly evolved into a symbol of Parisian luxury jewellery.  

Van Cleef & Arpels became the first French jewellers to open boutiques in Japan and China. In 1966, Van Cleef & Arpels made the crown for Empress Farah Pahlavi for her coronation in 1967. This crown was made of emerald velvet set with 36 emeralds, 36 rubies, 105 pearls and 1,469 diamonds.

The “Mystery Setting” Technique

As said before, Van Cleef & Arpels is using gem setting style called Serti Mysterieux, or “Mystery Setting”, which they patented in 1933. Gemstones in this technique are set in a way where the prongs are not visible. This unique technique requires 300 hours of work per piece. Jewellery pieces produced with this technique are extremely rare – only a few pieces are made throughout the year.

Van Cleef & Arpels Parfume and Jewellery

Van Cleef & Arpels produced about 62 perfumes in their base collection. Their earliest collection was produced in 1976 and the newest collection was produced in 2020. 

As said on their official website, Van Cleef & Arpels’ jewellery is characterized by a distinctive blend of poetry and refinement. 

Over the years Van Cleef & Arpels created jewellery collections like Alhambra, Perlée and Flora. Their collections are focusing on one specific theme, for example, Perleé’s theme is golden beads and Flora’s theme are flowers and nature. The Flora collection offers a selection of rings with flowers and leaves, which are perfect for spring and summer. 

Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra collection is a symbol of harmony and luck, which is presented in golden pearls. Although this collection was created in 1968, Alhambra bracelets are still very popular nowadays because of the minimalistic and unique look they picture.

Boutiques and branches

Van Cleef & Arpels owns 3 luxury stores in the UK – one of them takes place on New Bond Street, London, the second one is in Harrolds, London, and the most famous boutique is at Selfridges on Oxford Street.

In Europe and the United States, Van Cleef & Arpels maintains standalone stores. In Europe, for example, their stores are located in Zurich, Milan, Rome, Geneva, Munich and Paris where their company has multiple locations. 

In the United States, their stores take place in Beverly Hills, New York City, Chicago, Houston, Boston and Las Vegas. 

Van Cleef & Arpels also has stores in the Middle East and South-East Asia, for example in Singapore and Bangkok.