Art Deco Diamond Ring by Van Cleef and Arpels, Paris, 1920
A ring composed of a prong-set brilliant navette-cut diamond, the shoulders and gallery set with round diamonds and millegrain detail, mounted in platinum
- 1 navette-cut diamond, weighing 6.97 carats
- 34 round diamonds, total weighing 0.26 carat
- Signed Van Cleef & Arpels, indistinct number 11304 (confirmed by Van Cleef & Arpels) and maker’s mark
- Measurements: 1 x 3/4 x ¾ inch
Gemological Institute of America Diamond Grading Report no. 2165646353, dated October 6, 2014, stating that the 6.97-carat modified marquise brilliant is F color and VS2 clarity.
Van Cleef & Arpels was founded in 1906 by Alfred Van Cleef and his two brothers-in-law, Charles and Julian Arpels, at 22 Place Vendôme, Paris. Their important design innovations include the invisible setting, the minaudière and the Zip necklace. In 1939, they opened an office in Rockefeller Center in New York, moving three years later to 744 Fifth Avenue where they are today. Their impressive client list includes royalty, socialites, and Hollywood stars such as Jackie Kennedy, Princess Grace, Liz Taylor, and the Duchess of Windsor. In 1999, Van Cleef & Arpels became part of the Richemont Group. They have locations in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
For more than 4,000 years, rings have adorned fingers as signs of power and beauty. While many stones have come in and out of fashion over the centuries, diamonds have always been held up as one of the most precious of materials. In the 1920s, when this ring was created, drastic social changes were reflected in the fine arts, including jewelry design. The romantic and ornate swags and delicate festoons of jewelry in the years before World War I were replaced by the bold forms and geometric shapes of a world on the move. This ring is an important piece as it exhibits the transition from the earlier Belle Epoque era to the Art Deco. Remnants of the ornate romantic details are seen in the millegrain metal work on the setting, but the use of the strong geometry of the round diamonds against the navette-shape are prescient of the bold future of the Art Deco.
The navette-cut dates back to the eighteenth century and refers to a stone with an elliptical shape and pointed ends. The name means “little ship” referring to the shape. The navette-cut is also called the marquis-cut, which has a wonderful apocryphal origin story that King Louis XV ordered his diamond cutter to create a stone that reflected the beautiful shape of his mistress’s lips. The shape was then named for his lover, the Marquise de Pompadour. The truth is likely that the cut and the woman appeared in Paris around the same time and the stone became named for the famous beauty. The myth, however, demonstrates both the femininity of the cut and its association with the aristocracy.
Created at the start of the Art Deco, this ring combines the beauty of an elegant design with a stunning stone. It is exceedingly unusual to find a ring created by Van Cleef & Arpels from this period and this magnificent rare jewel will be sought after by collectors.