The history of Van Cleef & Arpels began with a love story when, in 1895, Estelle Arpels, the daughter of a precious stone merchant, married Alfred Van Cleef, the son of a lapidary and diamond broker. In 1906, their passion for jewelry and an entrepreneurial spirit led them into business with Estelle’s brothers, Charles, Julien and Louis, and together they opened a boutique at 22, Place Vendôme, in an area renowned for its elegance and luxury. Van Cleef & Arpels was born. The jeweler’s Parisian address has never changed, becoming its hallmark.
The Maison’s reputation, which spread among the international elite, soon allowed it to open up branches in the most fashionable seaside and resort towns throughout the world. In the 1930s, a second generation came on the scene. From 1926 to 1942, the daughter of Alfred and Estelle, Renée Puissant, great Artistic Director of the Maison, marked the collections with the stamp of her inspired creativity. Julien Arpels’ sons Claude and Jacques, who were joined by their brother Pierre after the war, were also initiated into the profession. Gifted with energy and business sense, Jacques seemed destined to take over the main office in Paris. After a visit with his father and Uncle Louis to the United States, Claude decided to set up in New York in 1939, where he would head the business until 1990.
During this first half of the century, the Maison also developed new expertise and creations that would become genuine signatures: an ingenious clutch bag called the Minaudière™ case, the Mystery Setting™ technique whereby metal disappears beneath precious stones, the convertible Passe-Partout jewel or the innovative Zip necklace inspired by the zipper.
The elegance and ingenuity of the creations, along with the use of the most precious and rare materials, allowed Van Cleef & Arpels to seduce royal and princely families, Hollywood icons and a discerning clientele.
Today, Van Cleef & Arpels continues to be renowned for its innovative techniques and designs which include only the highest quality gemstones. As of the beginning of 2013, Van Cleef & Arpels is present in Europe, the United States of America, Brazil, the Middle East and Asia.