Combining an appreciation of beauty and harmony with its pursuit of excellence, Van Cleef & Arpels has found in dance an infinite source of creativity that grows ever richer with each passing decade. The art of ballet suffuses the Maison’s feminine figures with grace, delicacy, and movement.
This year, Van Cleef & Arpels is paying tribute to this source of inspiration through the creation of a veritable corps de ballet: a set of High Jewelry clips that extends the collection introduced in 2007, and evokes famous romantic and classical works. Delicate movements, elegant costumes, and rich ornamentation are faithfully transcribed. The silhouettes are enhanced with gold and gemstones, each finish attesting to the know- how and meticulous attention to detail for which Van Cleef & Arpels is renowned.
“Classical ballet as a source of inspiration has become a major tradition at Van Cleef & Arpels. Initiated over 80 years ago, it inspired the creation of the Maison’s dancer clips in the 1940s.
The quintessence of the art of movement, dance finds an echo in jewelry, which interprets the immediacy of gestures and stances in the most precious of materials. From the preliminary sketch to the considered choice of gems, from sculpting the wax to shaping the metal, bringing these feminine figures to life is a collective endeavor performed by a corps of artisans working in unison.”
President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels
THE VAN CLEEF & ARPELS CORPS DE BALLET
Perpetuating a favored creative tradition, the Maison is unveiling ten ballerina clips in tribute to different ballets from the classical repertoire or to the renowned ballerinas who danced in them. Echoing Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty or The Firebird, these slender figures are graced with meticulously designed and crafted costumes and adornments.
The Maison has drawn on its full range of know-how to create these shimmering choreographies, and has selected a palette of gemstones that meet its criteria for excellence. Benefitting from the expert skills of Van Cleef & Arpels’ artisans, each piece is first manually sculpted from a block of green wax. This essential step in crafting the Maison’s feminine figures enables the jeweler to study the clip’s shape in three dimensions. Through observation and very precise craftsmanship, the artisan is thus able to reproduce the graceful movement of the body and the delicate ripples of fabric in wax. Once the model is finalized, the wax is melted to leave a gold piece that will be hand- finished and polished. It is then set with carefully selected gemstones that light up the figure with a touch of radiance or a hint of color.
THE PARIS SCHOOL
A Romantic ballet par excellence, Giselle tells the tale of doomed love. It features Albrecht and Giselle, a female character inspired by one of the era’s most prominent ballerinas, Carlotta (Caronne) Grisi. The Caronne clip pays tribute to this dancer, who was the first to play the part of Giselle in public, in 1841.
Her skirt in ribbed gold, set with vertical lines of diamonds, evokes the tutus in diaphanous tulle that are typical of Romantic ballet. Her elegantly understated style is enhanced by contrasting shades of gold that evoke the shimmering fabric of her costume, and by the pear-shaped gemstones interspersed on her bust and ballet shoes.
Chant du Rossignol
This clip alludes to the opera Song of the Nightingale, itself based on Hans Christian Andersen’s eponymous tale. Staged for the first time in 1914 at the Paris Opera to music by Igor Stravinsky, the work combines several spheres of interest that have been important to the Maison since its inception: dance, nature, and other cultures.
Yellow gold, white gold, tsavorite garnets, emeralds, sapphires, diamonds
Front and back views
The work is evoked here through a feminine figure gracefully poised en pointe. Her bodice in gem-set gold flares out into a tutu, radiantly polished to reinforce the appearance of pleats. The same warm hues emanate from the ribbon in her hair, the bird perched on her delicately folded left arm, and her ballet shoes.
The details are rendered in a different color of gold using a traditional technique that consists of “reserving” these elements – in other words, protecting them with a layer of lacquer – when the silhouette in white gold is rhodium-plated.
Brush polishing work
|Jewelry work, setting
|Jewelry work on the gold structure
|Jewelry work, adjusting
Inspired by the famous ballet The Firebird created in 1910 to music by Igor Stravinsky, this clip evokes the bright colors of the staging created by Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
Vera Fokina, the first dancer to perform the role of Princess Tsarevna, appeared wearing an impressive costume covered in yellow and orange feathers. They are evoked on this clip by the engraved gold radiating out to the edges of the skirt. The feathered effect is enhanced
by alternating vertical lines of diamonds and colored sapphires, and by the bright red rubies punctuating the silhouette. The same tones are combined on the bodice, with delicately crossed ribbons guiding the eye to the ballerina’s face, represented by a rose-cut diamond.
Rose gold, white gold, yellow sapphires, spessartite garnets, rubies, diamonds
Front and back views
A large number of artists worked together to create Parade, a collective work in one act presented in May 1917 by the Ballets Russes at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Notably, Pablo Picasso created the set design. This clip – named after the dancer Maria Chabelska, who was the first to play the role of the “Little American Girl” – also suggests the whimsical universe of the ballet, which featured acrobats and magicians, as well as costumes designed by Picasso. This is reflected by the star-set gemstones forming the pattern of the skirt, as well as the baguette-cut diamonds composing the fringes. The dancer’s outfit is completed by numerous accessories, including cuff bracelets, a necklace and a precious headpiece. This jewelry revives the tradition of adornments that graced the ballerinas created by Van Cleef & Arpels since the 1940s.
THE MONTE – CARLO SCHOOL
Spectre de la rose
This clip blossoming before our eyes was inspired by the free and ethereal choreography of the ballet The Spirit of the Rose (1911). The ruffles on the shoulders and the amplitude of the tutu, composed of layered petals, give remarkable relief to this woman-flower reminiscent of a rose. The delicacy of her movements can be perceived as much in the asymmetrical position of her hands as in that of her diamond-studded ballet shoes. Several techniques are used to reinforce the impression of lightness emanating from this silhouette. Snow-set gems in different sizes are assembled on the skirt to cover the precious metal and reinforce the impression of color, while a mirror polish suffuses the bodice with intense radiance, so that it appears to capture the lights from the stage.
THE ITALIAN SCHOOL
Caught in gracious and spontaneous movement, this ballerina transcribes the mischievous personality of Columbina, the paramour of Harlequin, a famous character in the Commedia dell’arte. His emblematic costume inspired the motifs adorning this dancer’s dress, which is structured with triangles and lozenges: some are set with diamonds, while others sparkle with the radiance of mirror-polished gold. The contrast of materials continues with the ribbon tied in her hair and the alternating gold beads and diamond motifs on the hem of her skirt. The ballet shoes in white gold, also set with diamonds and topped with a gleaming sphere, are extended by delicate laces engraved around her ankles. Slender and elegant, the ballerina’s silhouette recalls that of Mathilde Kschessinska, the renowned dancer who played Columbina in Les Millions d’Arlequin, a ballet by Marius Petipa.
Rose gold, white gold, diamonds Front and back views
Carnaval de Venise
In an inherently dynamic stance, this ballerina performs a dance step called the “relevé retiré”. Her contrasting hues pay tribute to the Carnival of Venice, renowned for its wealth of different costumes and for the originality of its masks. Yellow gold has been delicately shaped to reproduce the appearance of her gloves, the fringes of her skirt and the curve of her ballet shoes. The radiance of the precious metal seems to be emphasized by the intensity of the lacquer used to adorn her mask, her belt and the tops of her gloves. A final touch of color is provided by the gems that sparkle on the tips of her shoes and the pendant on her necklace.
THE SAINT PETERS BURG SCHOOL
Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Petrushka (1911) tells the story of a magician who brings three puppets to life to the bewitching sound of his flute. One of these is a ballerina, symbolizing grace and inaccessible beauty. Here, she is evoked by the fitted jacket and flared skirt that are characteristic of her costume. A close look reveals a multitude of details, notably the different gemstones that mark the lines of her jacket, and the mobile one at the center of her bust, following the wearer’s movement. The tutu recalls diaphanous, cascading tulle thanks to the succession of paved surfaces, sparkling rows, and shimmering, scalloped details.
Adage à la rose
A tribute to the ballet The Sleeping Beauty, which premiered in 1890 and was inspired by Charles Perrault’s eponymous fairytale, this Adage à la rose ballerina alludes to a scene from Act I.
After her suitors present her with a rose, Princess Aurora performs a slow, harmonious dance with each of them: an adagio.
On this clip, movement seems to flow from the tips of the dancer’s curved ballet shoes to her elegantly slender arms, with an effect accentuated by the trajectory of the lines of diamonds. The straps of her bodice and the pattern on her skirt are reminiscent of delicate lace, while a hem of pink sapphires subtly evokes the color of the rose
In 1837, a poem by Alexander Pushkin inspired Mikhail Glinka to create the opera Ruslan and Ludmila. Like the main character from this work, the dancer in this clip wears a crown composed of yellow-gold spikes reaching skywards. The same aesthetic also emanates from her neckline and the upper part of her skirt, both of which feature yellow-gold adornments. They draw a contrast, in relief, with the grain-set diamonds that pave the rest of her costume and her meticulously polished white-gold silhouette.
Yellow gold, white gold, yellow sapphires, diamonds Front and back views
THE VAN CLEEF & ARPELS BALLERINAS
The history that connects Van Cleef & Arpels to the world of dance goes back to the 1920s in Paris. Louis Arpels, who was passionate about ballet, liked to take his nephew Claude to the Opéra Garnier, located just a stone’s throw from the Place Vendôme boutique. The Maison’s first ballerina clips appeared in the early 1940s, and quickly became a Van Cleef & Arpels signature. Their ethereal stances and the beauty of their costumes soon made them popular with collectors. Featuring a gold or diamond face adorned with a precious headpiece, they wear ballet shoes and a tutu set with diamonds or colored gemstones that expresses their movements. The Van Cleef & Arpels dancers also reflect the influence that other cultures have exerted over the Maison since 1906. They are therefore dressed in attire from around the world, from Spain to the Pacific Islands.
From 2007, the Ballet Précieux High Jewelry collection also expresses Van Cleef & Arpels’ interest in this discipline through figurative or more stylized pieces. Its different chapters, unveiled over the years, compose a vibrant tribute to the art of dance.
Pleated gold, precious or ornamental stones… The tutus shaped by the Mains d’Or – virtuoso craftsmen from Van Cleef & Arpels workshops – represent the shapes and textures of stage costumes. Attesting to the Maison’s know-how, they adorn the dancers in a myriad of colors echoing famous ballets such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, The Firebird or La Sylphide. According to creative inspiration, the Maison’s ballerina clips join the delicate dancers featured in the Van Cleef & Arpels’ watch collections. Combining watchmaking expertise and artistic crafts such as enameling, the Maison brings dreams rooted in opera and ballet to life.
B Y V A N C L E E F & A R P E L S
In 2020, the Maison reasserted its commitment to the art of dance with the creation of Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels. Guided by the values of creation, transmission, and education, this initiative aims to support artists and organizations in perpetuating the choreographic heritage, while encouraging new productions. Since its launch, Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels has accompanied a number of international dance companies and organizations.
The program is reinforced each year by major events, such as the Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels Festival, the first two editions of which were held in London in March 2022 and Hong Kong in May 2023. This support also extends to initiatives that raise awareness of choreographic culture among all audiences, professional and amateur alike.