To hear it roll off the tip of the tongue, is to instantly understand how the French word perlée denotes all things delicate, feminine, and refined. To Van Cleef & Arpels, it represents all this and more – legacy in workmanship. Tiny beads, resembling pearls like fresh dew decorating cut grass, have been symbolic to the house’s creations long before the Perlée line was born in 2008.
Over the years, the Perlée collection has evolved, along with its wearer, who is always on the lookout for novelties that delight. “We’ve been enriching the collection with new aesthetics and functions: this year, for instance, we have revealed a transformable long necklace and four secret watches,” shares Van Cleef & Arpels president and CEO, Nicolas Bos. For the selective client, the ultimate gift is the secret jewelry watch emblematic of both French and Swiss savoir faire. The collection’s golden beads-embellished bracelet watches are inspired by the toi et moi (“you and I”) jewelry style. Two different-sized motifs face each other in an open bangle. Gently pivot the larger motif and a white mother-of-pearl dial surrounded by round diamonds winks back at its wearer. Playful, the collection features different colors and materials.
Originally published in the June 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia.
“We have introduced new precious materials for the first time, such as coral and lapis lazuli, creating bold associations of colors,” adds Bos. Green malachite is contrasted with coral and pink gold; while lapis lazuli echoes the sparkle of diamonds and yellow gold. The third watch features rose gold and diamonds. Handmade, the gold watch casing and pendants are crafted in France while the dials and movements are assembled in Meyrin, Switzerland. An audacious addition to your jewelry repertoire, the joyous and brilliant secret watches put an amusing spin on time.
Since the 1920s, the golden beads have decorated jewelry, becoming more apparent from 1948 onward, when the collection expanded to include necklaces, bracelets, rings, and watches. “This motif is part of our stylistic heritage and has evolved along the years,” notes Bos. He cites the instance when it was featured via a rippling of small golden beads in the Twist collection of the 1960s. From 1963, the golden beads decorated lithe and fluid forms. Beaded spirals were combined with coral, turquoise, and cultured pearls. From 1968, they next found a place in the Alhambra collection – “our iconic symbol of luck,” he adds. In the 2000s, Van Cleef & Arpels had a novel idea and gave a new expression to the golden beads with the dedicated collection Perlée. With this line, the maison has dreamed up feminine creations: Perlée pearls of gold, couleurs, diamonds, clovers, and Perlée signature.
“For me, freshness rhymes with simplicity and simplicity is often the most complex effect to create,” says Bos, referring to the delicate rows of identical beads that outline the jewelry silhouettes and beckon the touch. “The Perlée collection is characterized by its playful and joyful spirit. With their pure, round, and bright lines, the creations convey a modern vision of femininity and adapt to the wearer’s wishes.” The pieces can be worn together and stacked so that the various stones – malachite, turquoise, onyx, carnelian, and diamonds – create colorful combinations, “according to your mood and desire,” suggests Bos.
Van Cleef & Arpels was founded in 1906 in the heart of Paris, with the boutique opening at 22 Place Vendôme. It was born from the creative passion and entrepreneurial spirit of the union of a daughter of a precious stones dealer, Esther Arpels, and the son of a stone cutter, Alfred Van Cleef. Historically, the house is favored by royalty. Van Cleef & Arpels designed Her Imperial Majesty Empress Farah Pahlavi’s coronation crown and regalia, and also Grace Kelly’s engagement gift from His Serene Highness Prince Rainier of Monaco – a pearl and diamond set. A sapphire and diamond bracelet was given to the Duchess of Windsor by her besotted prince, former King of England the Duke of Windsor. Today, Van Cleef & Arpels enjoys a burgeoning following in the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia, where discerning women are beguiled by the maison’s delicate and colorful jewels inspired by nature, animals, and fairies. Many women gift the jewels to themselves, delighting in collecting bracelets and necklaces to stack and wear on everyday and special occasions alike.