Van Cleef & Arpels: Haute Rocks

The French High Jeweler Unveils a Fantastical Collection at the 25th Biennale des Antiquaires

Crossing the threshold of the Van Cleef & Arpels stand at the 25th Biennale des Antiquaires in the Grand Palais can be a slightly daunting experience. In the small foyer, a quartet of golden sculptures stand like silent sentinels, representing four works by Jules Verne. It’s a striking way to initiate visitors into Les Voyages Extraordinaires––a collection inspired by the science fiction author’s novels Five Weeks in a Balloon, A Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. “Verne wrote about breaking barriers and traveling to unexplored territories,” says Stanislas de Quercize, the president and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels. “We wanted to do the same thing with this collection.” Each unique piece in this vast array of treasures took hundreds of hours to complete, and in keeping with a growing trend in high jewelry, many are multifunctional: a necklace carved from chalcedonies has two reversible medallions, featuring a penguin and polar bear on one side and abstract icebergs on the other; a brooch of lapis lazuli is encircled by a movable diamond rocket. Renowned Argentine theater director Alfredo Arias created a set that transports visitors into the heart of each of Verne book’s fanciful universes: in one room a hot air balloon displays a necklace of opal orbs designed to recreate a view of the plains of Africa, while another room is transformed into a silver submarine, its portholes displaying a diamond-covered seal clip encircled by a school of sapphire fish.

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