Van Cleef & Arpels’s Dazzling Jewellery Exhibition is An Ode to Emerald Gems


Showcasing an exceptionally versatile colour spectrum from vivid emerald to mossy sage and lush jade, Van Cleef & Arpels’ “Garden of Green” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History features archival high jewellery that uncovers over a century of botanical designs.

“One of the things that we love about this exhibition is that out of the 44 pieces, 32 of them had never been seen before in the United States,” says the museum’s vice president of exhibitions Lauri Halderman on the enigmatic nature of the pieces. Seven categories of green jewels are explored, focusing on the innate thematic messages each stone tells within the collection’s larger story.

Of the collections, standouts include Variations of Green, which exemplifies themes of natural imagery and floral iconography through pieces such as the Cydonia necklace and earring set, the pair of which boast a staggering 951 emeralds. Jadeite Jade spotlights an array of jewellery and objets d’art from the 1920s, featuring jade adornments in ArtDeco styles that poetically reveal the decadence of the gem’s subdued sage colour palette. Displaying the delicate versatility of its olive hue, Peridot proudly showcases 132 peridots and 580 diamonds in floral wreath-like arrangements, and Green Chalcedony’s luminous, ultra-fine crystals can be seen decorating an exquisite leafy garland bracelet. Most notable, though, is the collection’s homage to the world’s most famed verdant stone:Emerald. The iconic gemstone’s natural inclusions resemble branches and are referred to as “jardin,” or “garden” in French. And inside this garden within a garden is nestled the Quatre Chemins, a stunning necklace adorned with nearly 28 carats of Zambian emeralds.

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From the Les Jardins Collection (2009): Cydonia necklace with emeralds, pink and white diamonds.

The exhibition and its seven categories, Halderman explains, demonstrate “the diversity of ways that you can take gemstones, shape them, embellish them, represent them in so many different styles—some of which are representational—and the idea that green brings that together.”

Ultimately, the exhibit’s beauty resides in its ability to bridge Van Cleef & Arpels’ graceful artistry with the raw beauty of the gemstones, crafting a remarkable symbol of majestic intrigue and an enduring legacy for the Maison. “Garden of Green” invites spectators to tour its exquisitely curated collection and provides an intimate look at the poetic storytelling and symbolic prowess of verdant hues.

Van Cleef & Arpels’ “Garden of Green” is on view at the American Museum ofNatural History until January 2024.