Craft / April 2016

THE ART & SCIENCE OF GEMS: VAN CLEEF & ARPELS

A new exhibition in Singapore seeks to explore not only the history of Van Cleef & Arpels, but the very origins of the magnificent gems that are their stock in…

In recent years, luxury houses have made ever-greater efforts to emphasise their heritage — the centuries the company has been in operation, its roots in a more civilized age — and the time-honoured, time-consuming nature of the craftsmanship that goes into painstakingly creating their products.

What we often forget, however — and what the 110-year-old house of Van Cleef & Arpels seeks to highlight with its new exhibition in Singapore, ‘The Art and Science of Gems’ — is that at least in the case of jewellery, all numbers considered on a human timescale become mere blips when compared to the age of the stones that jewellers work with.

This unique exhibition juxtaposes more than 400 stunning Van Cleef & Arpels creations spanning the house’s earliest days at the dawn of the 20th century right through to the present time (including historic pieces that were once the property of luminaries including Princess Grace, Maria Callas, Elizabeth Taylor and Wallis Simpson) against 250 mineral and gem pieces drawn from the French National Museum of Natural History — massive gold nuggets, the world’s largest black diamond, meteorites, a boulder-sized hunk of quartz, emeralds, opals, rubies, and stone literally billions of years old.

Tags

Contributor

Christian Barker

Christian Barker is The Rake's Asia editor-at-large, a frequent contributor to this site, and an enthusiastic consumer of fine whiskies, sashimi and classic disco music - ideally in unison.