VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
Leon Arpels Alfred Van Cleef 1873 - 1938
Charles Arpels 1880 - 1951
Julien Arpels 1884 – 1964
Louis Arpels 1886 - 1976
Emile Puissant 1888 - 1926
Renée Puissant (Van Cleef) ? – 1942
Claude Arpels 1911-
Jacques Arpels 1914 -
Pierre Arpels 1919 - 1980 1894
Leon Arpels establishes his boutique at 34 de la rue Drouot
1898 Estelle Arpels marries her cousin Alfred Van Cleef and this brings together two prominent families. Estelle is the daughter of a precious stone wholesaler and Alfred is the son of a diamond merchant and jeweller from Amsterdam. Alfred Van Cleef establishes his boutique at 35 rue de Bellefond
1899 Alfred moves to 28 rue Saint Denis
1900 The Exposition Universalle was held in Paris and following this wealthy Russians and Americans flocked to the city. It was the place to see and be seen and the ideal location to start up a new jewellery firm.
1906 Alfred Van Cleef and his brothers in-law Charles and Julien Arpels, register the name ‘Van Cleef & Arpels’. The boutique settles at 22 Place Vendôme in Paris. Their skills are complimentary and the new House of Van Cleef & Arpels became very successful. They soon begin to open new boutiques across the fashionable seaside towns of France and abroad.
1906 Boutique opened in Dinard
1910 Opened in Nice at 8 Avenue de Verdun
1912 Opened in Deauvilee at rue Gontaut Biron. By this time VCA were employing 14 members of staff. It was at this point that Louis Arpels, the youngest Arpels brother, joined the family business. He was a hugely talented salesman.
1913 Opened in Vichy at rue du President Wilson 1914 – 1918 The First World War disrupts the firms progress as Charles, Louis and Estelle are all called upon to serve. Due to bad health, Alfred Van Cleef remains behind to manage the companies affairs.
1918 Van Cleef & Arpels create their first Chatelaine, a belt that is worn around the waist with a watch attached to it.
1919 Opened in Lyon at rue de la Republique
1920 Opened in Cannes at La Croisette
1923 Van Cleef & Arpels produce their first bracelet watch in white and yellow gold with a leather strap
1925 Van Cleef & Arpels awarded an important prize at the Exposition International des Arts Décoratifs in Paris
1926 Budding designer Renée Puissant, daughter of Alfred and Estelle, and Artistic Director at VCA, begins her collaboration with designer Renée Sim Lacaze which starts a twenty year wave of innovative and unusual creations. Renée is to have a huge impact on the stylistic direction of the company between the wars.
1929 Van Cleef & Arpels open their doors in New York on the day of the Wall Street crash. This unfortunate turn of events delays VCA’s spread stateside for nearly a decade.
1930 Invention of the ‘Minaudèrie’. An exquisite box usually decorated with gems and engraving and containing miniature accessories, all ingeniously arranged. They became an essential evening companion for all elegant women. 1932 The premises at Place Vendôme were enlarge to incorporate the no. 24, the space formerly occupied by Lalique.
1933 Van Cleef & Arpels patented the Mystery Setting which is the technique of setting stones with the illusion that there is no metal supporting them. The claws are hidden underneath the stones giving the illusion that the jewel is made up of just the stones themselves. The Directors decided they needed a dedicated workshop annexed to them exclusively. Choice fell on Alfred Langlois who was a specialist in clock-case-making and vanity cases with an excellent reputation amongst the finest of jewellers.
1935 Invention of the Ludo bracelet and opening of a boutique inside the casino in Monte Carlo The second generation of the family began to enter the business. Julien Arpel’s three sons Claude, Jacques and Pierre all took their place in the company. 1937 Exposition Universalle in Paris brought great success for Van Cleef & Arpels despite the difficult economic situation.
1938 Death of Alfred Van Cleef was a devastating blow to the company In the same year the house received a huge commission to design and produce the jewellery to be worn at the wedding of The Shah of Iran to Princess Fawzia of Egypt. The Princess remained a loyal client and always visited VCA whenever she was in Paris. 1939 Invention of the Cadenas bracelet watch.
1939 Van Cleef & Arpels open a boutique in the Rockefeller Centre, New York City. This became the first location in the United States for Van Cleef & Arpels and the House has since opened boutiques in five more U.S. cities.
1940 VCA opens a branch in Palm Beach 1942 The firm moves from the Rockefeller centre to Fifth Avenue. During the Second World War much of the firm’s business is conducted from the States as the Paris operation is crippled by conscription and limits placed on work in gold and platinum.
1949 Renée Puissant dies
1949 Pierre Arpels creates the PA49 watch based on a design he used to create a watch just for himself. Encouraged by the admiration of this model, Pierre decided to make it available to clients
1956 Van Cleef & Arpels are asked to be in charge of Princess Grace of Monaco’s wedding present which included a huge variety of pieces.
1972 Inauguration of the ‘Boutique des Heures’ in the Place Vendôme in Paris
1974 The Alhambra design becomes emblematic of the Van Cleef & Arpels style
1975 A third generation of the family join the business
1976 The company’s first perfume ‘First de Van Cleef & Arpels’ was launched
During the 70’s and 80’s the firm set-up boutiques all around the globe and granted franchises to select retailers.
Today Van Cleef & Arpels is owned by the luxury group, Richemont.