At Van Cleef & Arpels, the narrative behind collections is given nearly as much importance as the jewels themselves. While jewellers typically create designs around the gemstones laid before them, the French maison’s creative process almost always begins with a story. In the words of CEO Nicolas Bos, “We give our jewels soul through these stories.”
It’s a formula that works beautifully, and one that has become expected by clients. Bos says that while the brand’s clientele is of diverse cultural backgrounds and tastes, the common ground is that they enjoy “embarking on a journey of storytelling.”
And he’s not talking about a tale hastily cobbled together a month before a collection is unveiled—a practice more common than you might think—but carefully woven prose that ties the inspiration, designs and the universe of Van Cleef & Arpels together exquisitely.
We’ve seen this done brilliantly in previous collections, such as L’Arche de Noé, a whimsical interpretation of the biblical story of Noah through a range of brooches, and the delightful collection dedicated to the French fairy tale Peau d’Âne.
This year, the house has combed through the 200-plus fairy tales published by the Brothers Grimm and chosen four on which to base a fanciful, romantic high jewellery collection called Quatre Contes de Grimm.
The brothers’ darker tales were passed over, Bos says, in favour of stories more in line with the world of Van Cleef & Arpels. With precious stones and metals, plus their exquisite craftsmanship, the jewellers have brought to life The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Golden Bird, The Three Feathers, and Town Musicians of Bremen.