Like the fantastic adventures depicted in Verne's tatler_tatler_stories, the pieces in the Les Voyages Extraordinaire collection are vivid expressions that engage the imagination. "We have selected four of Jules Verne's books - Five Weeks in a Balloon, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, From Earth to the Moon, and the renowned Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," explains Nicolas Bos, creative director and president of Van Cleef & Arpels in the US.
Interestingly, Bos believes that there is a sort of continuity that seems to have sealed the fate of this tribute to Verne. The author passed in 1905, and the following year, Van Cleef & Arpels opened its doors at Place Vendôme in Paris. He goes on to say, "The dreamlike world of Jules Verne resonates with that of a Maison whose artistic heritage is built around the beauty of flora and fauna, the sky and the starts, imaginary creatures..."
Let us start with Verne's first novel - Five Weeks in a Balloon. The story takes us on an adventure through Africa with its natural surroundings and wildlife, and at Van Cleef & Arpels, it is told through pieces like the Excelsior long necklace with sapphires, turquoise, white mother-of-pearl and diamonds, off of which hangs an emblem of a hot air balloon. In the words of Bos, the Nuit d'Équateur necklace alludes to "the luxuriance of flora", depicting lush greenery and a menagerie of lemurs with pear-shaped diamonds, carved rubellites, emerald beads and diamonds
The Maximus clip is inspired by a specific anecdote in the novel where an elephant emerges from the jungle to pull the crashing hot air balloon, and here it is adorned with white diamonds and a smattering of grey diamonds, while the ‘balloon' is an extremely rare 48.13-carat topaz.
Next, we come to A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, where geology and prehistoric animals come into play. The Stromboli necklace is a breathtaking creation that evokes the strength and majesty of an erupting volcano, with brilliant yellow diamonds cascading from a ‘crater' of mauve sapphires. The fantastical Krafla necklace in aquamarines and diamonds features a tassel that can be detached, offering additional ways to wear the piece.
Constellations and the galaxies are at the heart of From the Earth to the Moon, and the Andromède necklace is a stellar statement piece - a swirl of stars and dazzling lights are reflected in diamonds and marquise rubies. The Constellation Cassiopée clip bears a celestial being of sorts, perched on an oval-cut sapphire and entwined in a cluster of diamond stars.
Finally we arrive at 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, where Captain Nemo navigates his submarine through the mysteries and wonders of the deep. At Van Cleef & Arpels, we encounter a blue whale clip with sapphires, white mother-of-pearl and white and grey diamonds, as well as a feminine Medusa-like creature in the Olindias clip, an exquisite piece crafted entirely from rose-cut diamonds. The theme continues in the magnificent Médusa necklace and detachable clip, which features Mystery Set sapphires and diamonds and chains of sapphire beads.
Made especially for its presence in the 25th Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris are four exceptional rings that represent the four Verne novels.
The Tellus ring depicts the appearance of soft gold high grass of the wind-beaten savannah as seen from above during a balloon flight. The attention to detail extends to the selection of yellow sapphires, emeralds, mandarin garnets and tsavorites to ensure a beautiful gradation of colour, and sitting amidst the leaves of ‘grass' is a Columbian emerald of 10.98 carats.
Named after the volcanic god in Greek mythology, the Héphaïstos ring is a vivid display of colours that represent the fire and heat of a forge. The 8.19-carat oval Mozambique ruby sits atop a pink gold collet, with brilliant yellow diamonds and garnets swirling around it, an exuberant interpretation of Journey of the Centre of the Earth.
Like a nebula crafted out of precious stones, the Aeros ring features a spectacular 15.88-carat oval diamond of exceptional purity and whiteness (DIF, type 2A), and is surrounded by its own constellation of round, baguette, triangular and square-cut diamonds. Quite like what we'd like to see in our dream versions of From the Earth to the Moon.
Last but not least, there is the Hydôr ring, which takes its inspiration from the sea and the energy released by waves. The star of the show is a magnificent 20.04-carat oval Ceylon sapphire, around which small round diamonds twist in spirals, and a gradation of blue sapphires simulates the relief of moving waters.
The Van Cleef & Arpels Les Voyages Extraordinaire High Jewellery collection is now available in Singapore until August 15.