What do Marlene Dietrich, Jacqueline Onassis and Princess Faiza of Egypt have in common? Aside from fame and sartorial elegance, they also share a love for Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery. Paying tribute to this heritage, the Parisian high jeweller recently unveiled a trio of high jewellery inspired by creations once owned by them.
The most precious among the three is undoubtedly the new Merveille d’émeraudes necklace. Strung from glittering ribbons of round, baguette-cut and triangle-shaped diamonds are five large pear-shaped Colombian emeralds amounting to a whopping 70.4 cts. Emeralds of such quality and size are excruciatingly rare so it’s not surprising that these have breathed past lives before.
At the stones’ tips, a trained eye can make out a faint notch at the culets, a tell-tale sign that they have been modified to suit their current specifications. These former pendants have been split into two pear shapes to reveal all the stones’ delicacy, beauty and characteristic gardens.
The necklace was made to be worn in numerous ways. Indeed, one of the jeweller’s top priorities has always been to offer women different ways of wearing its jewellery. The emeralds can be removed and replaced with three pear-shaped diamonds (one 5.81-ct D-Flawless type 2A and two D-Internally Flawless type 2A stones weighing 3.59 cts each) that can also be attached to the ornate jewellery clasp that hangs down the back.
There is also the option of hanging the emeralds and diamonds on a pair of diamond earrings, which again, opens up different styling possibilities.
Merveille d’émeraudes is inspired by one of the maison’s heritage creations – an extravagant Art Deco style platinum collaret embellished with diamonds and large emeralds. With its striking good looks – composed predominantly of a fringe of nine graduated drop-shaped emeralds attached via bell-cap and baguette-cut diamond line mounts, it caught the eye of the Egyptian court’s representative in France, who promptly acquired it for Princess Faiza in 1947.
It was one of her favourite court jewels and she wore it to several official events – most notably, at the Tahar Palace Ball in Cairo, where she was photographed. It stayed with her throughout her exile in Europe and remained in her property when she moved to the United States. It was eventually sold to an anonymous collector but appeared at a Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction in November 2013, where it fetched a hammer price of CHF 3,861,000.
And who might the lucky owner be, you ask? None other than Van Cleef & Arpels. After almost 70 years, the necklace returned to the hands of its maker, where it travels the world as part of the jeweller’s precious Musuem Collection.