A new exhibit at Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum examines Van Cleef & Arpel’s historical contributions to jewelry design. More than 350 of the firm’s jewels, timepieces, fashion accessories and objet d’art are organized into six themes: Innovation, Transformation, Nature, Exoticism, Fashion and Personalities. Featured in Innovation, the firm’s famous “Mystery Setting” technique, in which the setting does not show between stones on a curved surface, is an exhibit highlight. Transformation showcases objects that metamorphose, such as a bird brooch that can be disassembled into multiple pieces of jewelry. Nature and Exoticism spotlight designs inspired by the natural environment and exotic destinations around the world, and Fashion features Van Cleef & Arpels’ opulent fashion accessories, such as the minaudiere clutch. Lastly, Personalities shows the impact of trendsetting American women who wore the label. A tiara worn by H.S.H. Princess Grace of Monaco; Elizabeth Taylor’s amethyst, coral and diamond bracelet and earrings; and the “Jarretiere” bracelet owned by Marlene Dietrich are among the items on display.
Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels runs through June 5, 2011.
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