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.
During the 1920s, great change swept the arts from architecture to painting to jewelry design. Technological changes created faster cars and taller buildings.Throughout the arts, colors became brighter, shapes were more geometric, andpieces reflected movement and the excitement of the era. Movements such as Cubism, championed by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Robert Delaunay, focused with mathematical precision on depictions of space, mass, and volume.
This brooch is the quintessential example of an Art Deco design. Delightfullyprescient, this jewel reflected the changes to come in the jewelry industrythrough the late 1920s and 1930s as designers moved to abstraction and a white palette with touches of bright color. Focusing on architectural elements, the jewel is a labyrinthine construction of squares, rectangles, and circles of diamonds and pearls. The graduated stones and elongated baguettes combined with the articulated cascades create a feeling of movement, evocative of an early Piet Mondrian painting. Created as a brooch with detachable pendant drops, the piece could be worn on the shoulder of an elongated evening gown, reflecting the slinky silhouettes of the era.
Purchased by Sir Henri Deterding in 1926, this jewel was likely for his wife, noted jewelry collector Lady Lydia Deterding. An oil magnate, Henri was Director General of the Royal Dutch-Shell Company. Of Russian birth, Lady Lydia was a friend of the Romanovs and Yusupovs and purchased jewels directly from Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna after she fled Russia. Lady Lydia’s legendary collection included stunning examples of Cartier, Fabergé, and Van Cleef & Arpels, as well as a pearl necklace that belonged to Empress Maria Feodorovna and the Polar Star diamond that belonged to Prince Felix Yusupov.
This exceptional pendant brooch is a perfect example of an Art Deco jewel at its best. Combining magnificent design with impeccable stones and provenance, this is an important example of twentieth century design. Displaying the excitement of the era in which it was created, this brooch would make a stunning addition to any collection.