Van Cleef & Arpels’ President and CEO on the Maison’s Latest High Jewellery Collection

Van Cleef & Arpels’ latest The Legend of Diamonds—25 Mystery Set Jewels collection features exceptional white diamonds in fancy cuts and shapes reflective of the Maison’s distinctive style. The diamonds are cut from the original fifth-largest rough diamond ever mined—the Lesotho Legend. Found in Letseng Mine in Lesotho, this exceptional diamond has a highly sought-after Type 2A chemical composition, ensuring great purity and optical clarity. The entire collection is a result of brilliant craftsmanship and over 30,000 hours of work. This collection is the first to use the Maison’s patented complex Mystery Set technique in each one of its pieces—perfectly concealing the set surfaces to highlight the vibrant colours of the gemstones. The collection is capable of astonishing metamorphoses, allowing up to six different ways of wearing some of its pieces. This quality of transformation is a testament to the brand’s unbound creativity. We recently spoke with Nicolas Bos, President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels on the inspiration and design process behind Legend of Diamonds collection.

What was the inspiration behind the Legend of Diamonds collection?

“The collection was born out of a unique encounter: the discovery of an exceptional rough diamond, the Lesotho Legend. This rough of more than 900 carats, showing rare purity and flawless color, gave birth to a collection of 25 creations, optimizing this unique gem into 67 cut stones. To highlight them, we chose one of the most emblematic themes in Van Cleef & Arpels’ history: couture, a very dear source of inspiration, present in the Maison’s creations since 1906.”

What difference does it make being involved with a project from its starting point versus working with stones that are ready to be used in jewellery?

“The Maison seldom works with rough stones. We traditionally start with cut and faceted gems that are already suitable for use in jewellery. This is the first time in decades that we have been involved in a project from its starting point, the extraction of the diamond, to the creation of a High Jewellery collection. The appearance of this extraordinary rough stone gave us this unique opportunity to tell a story around the diamond.

Can you elaborate on the design process for the Atours Mystérieux necklace—the piece with the heaviest stone in the collection?

“The idea behind the Atours Mystérieux necklace was both to highlight the beauty of the central diamond and to pay tribute to the Maison’s history. The design of the piece is inspired by two emblematic creations from Van Cleef & Arpels patrimony: the Collerette necklace from 1938, and the diamond necklace created in 1939 for Queen Nazli. We also wanted the Atours Mystérieux necklace to embody one of our beloved traditions: that of transformable jewels. In this way, the oval-cut central diamond can be detached to be worn as a pendant on a chain, offering a versatile approach to High Jewellery.”

What are some of the notable techniques used in the making of the collection?

“The most notable savoir-faire used in the collection is the Mystery Set technique. Patented in 1933 by Van Cleef & Arpels, the Mystery Set is one of the most complex signature techniques mastered by our Maison. It is a virtuoso expression of our High Jewellery artistry because it allows gems to display their full beauty without any metal showing. Here, for the Legend of diamonds collection, the Mystery Set was also a way for us to bring forth the collection’s main theme: couture. The velvety aspect of rubies, sapphires and emeralds set in this way recreates the aspect of ribbons, fabrics, and sometimes even complex drapés, while the contrast brought by such intense gems truly highlights the clarity and purity of the center diamonds.”

How is the history and legacy of Van Cleef & Arpels manifested in the collection?

“Whether in the first chapter, 25 Mystery Set Jewels, or in the second chapter, White diamond variations, the collection demonstrates the permanent place diamonds hold in the Maison’s designs. Van Cleef & Arpels has a long tradition of White Jewellery, as shown by the first piece sold in 1906 – a heart set with brilliant-cut diamonds. The Maison has also been famous for acquiring exceptional or historical stones, like the Prince Edward of York at the beginning of the 1920s. In regard to this rich history, the collection’s 82 pieces are all inspired by patrimonial and archival creations, while being reimagined with a brand new eye and the Maison’s distinctive style.”

Discover The Legend of Diamonds—25 Mystery Set Jewels collection at vancleefarpels.com