Van Cleef & Arpels, singular in its fame for consistently paying tribute to the beauty of gemstones, celebrating their colors, their brilliance, and their elegant shapes, has now lifted the curtains to a new 25 Mystery Set Jewels collection.
The story began in 2018, when the Maison was presented with a rough diamond, the Lesotho Legend. Weighing 910 carats, it was the fifth largest rough diamond in both size and quality ever mined. It combined a perfect D color, beautiful crystallization, and a highly sought-after Type 2A chemical composition.
Van Cleef & Arpels then enlisted Diamcad—a leading diamond cutter in Antwerp—to plan the cutting and faceting of each stone. Taking into consideration the stone's inclusions within, the diamond cutting experts then used state-of-the-art technology to envision the position of each gem in the heart of the rough stone.>
Being involved in the beginning of this process gave Van Cleef & Arpels the opportunity to plan for a combination of cut stones that matched its wishes, both in shape and size. These included a 79.35-carat specimen and others weighing 51.14, 31.24, and 25.06 carats.
Van Cleef & Arpels then worked hand in hand with the various experts involved in the project to choose the cuts most likely to awaken the designers’ creativity. Every shape, whether oval, pear, emerald, or Asscher, echoed the Maison’s history and taste for “fancy” cuts. The gems were then given the ideal proportions, meticulously studied to best enhance their brilliance and beauty while meeting the aesthetic criteria of the Maison.
Van Cleef & Arpel designers then worked hand in hand with expert gemologists and the High Jewelry Workshops to design precious settings inspired by the history of the Maison for the diamonds from the rough stone. Each setting created through this collaborative approach was designed to reveal the intense brilliance of the stones and magnify their cut, while emphasizing the Maison’s style and expertise.
Van Cleef & Arpels opted to combine each of the gems with the Mystery Set: one of the most complex signature techniques mastered by the Place Vendôme Workshops.
The metal on the pieces is concealed to showcase vibrant colors thanks to the Mystery Set technique, which is used on an entire collection for the very first time. Patented by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1933, this setting technique is a true jewelry achievement and one of the Maison’s signature skills.
Its secret is in the use of gold rails in which meticulously cut stones—usually rubies, but also sapphires and, more rarely, emeralds or even diamonds—are fitted one by one. Once in place, the gemstones perfectly cover the set surface, giving the piece a velvety radiance. In 1937, the Maison also developed the Individual Mystery Set, in which the stones are held individually.
Bringing together curved lines and the intense interplay of colors in rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, the Design Studio worked to infuse lightness and movement into the most precious materials. Within the collection, bows are three dimensional, ribbons softly come undone, and asymmetry gives certain pieces a subtle energy.
The entire collection, the result of more than 30,000 hours of work, comes to life thanks to the Mains d’Or (literally “hands of gold”), the artisans of the Van Cleef & Arpels Workshops on the Place Vendôme who carry on the tradition of expertise that is constantly being perfected. To meet each new challenge, the jewelers, setters, lapidaries, and polishers communicated and shared their experience to produce a collective work.
Links, invisible fasteners, and discreet articulations express the Maison’s distinctive high standards, and the artisans’ meticulous attention is apparent on both the front and the back of the pieces.
“The collection’s 25 pieces are all equally complex. They required the participation of many crafts and experts we trust. The Design Studio came up with designs and it was our job to make them possible. Together, we created the initial shapes, the mechanical elements, the wearing comfort, and finally, the transformations. It was a truly collaborative effort.” Grégory Weinstock, Director of the Van Cleef & Arpels High Jewelry Workshops
Another hallmark of Van Cleef & Arpels is its technical ingenuity. This is reflected in the many transformable pieces that mark its history, such as the Passe-Partout model created in 1938 and the Zip necklace from 1950.
Like a couture-inspired collar, the Van Cleef & Arpels Collerette Mystérieuse necklace drapes lightly on the neck. Alternating rows of diamonds and Traditional Mystery Set rubies, it is edged with a line of pink sapphires and square-cut diamonds that evoke delicate lace.
Two remarkable diamonds glitter at the heart of this precious necklace, one over 51 carats and the other over 10 carats. In addition to their D color and FL Type 2A purity, they are intimately linked by their perfectly proportioned emerald cut, traditionally called "tennis court."
The creations of the Legend of diamonds – 25 Mystery Set Jewels collection also undergo astonishing metamorphoses, allowing up to six different ways to wear some of them. For example, the central diamond of the Atours Mystérieux necklace can be detached, replaced by an Individual Mystery Set motif, and simply slipped onto a chain, while that of the Collerette Mystérieux necklace can be used to adorn a matching ring. Meanwhile, the pendants of the Chevron Mystérieux earrings can be added to the necklace of the same name, whose central diamond is also detachable to be worn alone.
From rings to pendants, from necklaces to earrings, each transformation reflects the Maison’s perpetually renewed creativity. It is a true testament to the magic of Van Cleef & Arpels