À couper le souffle

Mark your calendars. From January 18 to July 4, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York will present a major retrospective of jewelry by the French firm of haute joaillerie Van Cleef & Arpels.  Three-hundred and fifty pieces will showcase the spectrum of their creations from their origins in 1906 through the 1980s, along with many artistic renderings in watercolor.

VC&ASome of the jewelry, like the broach pictured on top, features their innovative setting technique that is not only invisible, but fluid. The stones are set to follow curves, an enormously difficult feat, which the company refers to as its “mystery setting.” Other pieces were meant to be transformed in creative ways, such as a broach that can be turned into a pair of earrings and a smaller broach, like the bird above or the “zipper” necklace below.

van-cleef-and-arpels-gold-necklace-2It’s appropriate that an exhibit that is set to open soon after Valentine’s Day has a love story attached to it. The company is the result of the marriage between the children of a diamond merchant and a purveyor of precious stones.  I’ll bet she got quite a fine engagement ring!

van-cleef-arpels-emerald-necklace-set-in-styleToday’s expression, à couper le souffle, (ah coopay le soofluh) litterally means “to cut the breath.” We would say, “it takes my breath away.” Treat yourself to an exhibit that will have that kind of an emotional impact on you. Definitely take someone along to whom you can drop broad hints about your taste in jewelry.

51uFznqr%2BUL__SL75_Buy the exhibit catalog

Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels

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About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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2 Responses to À couper le souffle

  1. Pingback: Biennale | One quality, the finest.

  2. Pingback: Haute joaillerie | One quality, the finest.

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