Van Cleef & Arpels, most well-known for their inspired designs, their revolutionary gem setting procedure known as the Mystery Setting and perfumes, was founded in 1906.
Esther Arpels, daughter of a precious stones dealer, Soloman Arpels, married Alfred Van Cleef in 1886. Alfred Van Cleef and his brother-in-law, Charles, founded a jewelry business, trademarked the name and opened their first boutique at 22 place Vendome in 1906. Esther’s brothers, Saloma, Jules and Louis Arpels joined the firm. Alfred Van Cleef died in 1938. From 1909 to 1939 Van Cleef and Arpels flourished, opening boutiques in “holiday resorts” such as Nice and Monte Carlo.
In 1942, the Arpels family immigrated to the United States and opened their first boutique in New York on 5th Avenue. They became the first French Jewelers to open boutiques in China and Japan. The vibrant city of Hong Kong is considered the heart of Van Cleef & Arpels today. This family owned business was acquired by Compagnie Financiere Richeman S. A., in 1999.
Van Cleef & Arpels is known as being a French jeweler that takes ideas of American culture and nature to make their inspired designs. They use whimsical fantasy and luxury style fashion and use their incredible craftsmanship to create French high (quality) jewelry.
Some of the designs they are known for are the Zip necklace in 1950 which opens and closes with a zip, the Alhambra necklace in 1968, the Couture collection in 2004, the Feerie (Fairy) perfume in 2008 and the Papillions (Butterfly) collection in 2010 to name a few.
They registered a patent in 1990 for the setting technique called the Mystery setting, stones that are set on very fine gold and platinum net.
Among the most ardent clients of Van Cleef & Apels are Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Sharon Stone, Julia Roberts and Sofia Coppola.