Foliage necklace. Paris, France, 1959. Platinum, gold, rubies, diamonds.
Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum has been extended until July 4, 2011. More than 45,000 visitors have seen the show since its opening on February 18 and because this number is shattering the original expectations, the museum is holding the show over for an extra month.
Nécessaire. Paris, France, 1928. Gold, blue, black, and white enamel, sculpted lapis lazuli, rose-cut and baguette-cut diamonds. I wished this lived on top of my dresser so I could see it every day.
My friend Sarah at Cloud of Secrets asked a great question during my last post on the Van Cleef & Arpels show, Endless Emeralds, about fine jewelry being made during the Great Depression. I found this in the book that accompanies the exhibit, written by Sarah D. Coffin:
“While the 1930's witnessed economic depression on a global scale, a market for luxury jewelry remained, albeit on a limited scale, demanding new designs and new materials to excite consumers.”
Later, there is also this:
“World events have been an ongoing source of creativity for VC&A. The challenge of maintaining a luxury business through two World Wars, which led to severe limitations on prized resources such as platinum and gold, led to creative uses of non-precious materials such as wood, glass, leather, enamel, and Styphor, VC&A's name for an alloy that includes aluminum used especially for Minaudières. Many of the creative solutions to difficult times have remained or been revived in new designs over the years, while new materials have been added to the repertoire.”
I gathered from the book that there is always somebody, somewhere, rich enough to buy a piece of Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry, or, one step further, to commission the firm to make something truly unique and unforgettable.