Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Dandy Does NY

While in New York, we checked out the Van Cleef and Arpel’s “Set in Style” exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. This elaborate display of jewelry dates back to the founding of the design firm in Paris in 1896 by brothers-in-law Afred van Cleef and Salomon Arpels.

The exhibit, divided into six themes including Innovation (stylistic and technical); Transformations; Nature as Inspiration; Exoticism; Fashion; and Personalities, resonates through the history of this great design firm.
Some of my favorite pieces include this Peony brooch designed in 1937.
The rubies and diamonds are set with the patented “mystery-setting,” in which matched gemstones are grooved and set in channels so the setting is invisible. As we watched the display video, it was fascinating to see how the mystery-setting was accomplished and equally fascinating to find out that 50% of the gemstones are removed in the process!

Another breathtaking piece was this Walska brooch/pendant containing a 95 carat yellow diamond, sapphires, and white diamonds.
Created in 1971, this piece transforms in a variety of ways. The wings come off to form earrings, the tail comes off to form a brooch and the pendant can be detached and worn separately. How economical!!

These are only a few of the 350 pieces on display from the Van Cleef and Arpel’s collection. The exhibit also features jewels from the private collections of Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace, The duchess of Windsor and DC’s very own Marjorie Merriweather Post! If you are heading to New York, I highly recommend this fascinating exhibit.

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