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Van Cleef & Arpels confronts downturn with creativity, collections
By Tom Wildhern

PARIS, October 11, 2009 – World famous French jewellery house Van Cleef & Arpels is responding to the economic crisis with a surge of creativity, by introducing new collections, driving forward sales of watches as well as jewels, and eyeing further expansion where it sees long-term growth potential, its president says.
Van Cleef & Arpels, which set up a boutique on Paris’s plush Place Vendome in 1906 and has since grown into a global brand with 96 outlets worldwide, has a long history of tackling crisis, said Stanislas de Quercize, speaking in his elegant office just off the Place Vendome where the jeweller maintains its flagship boutique.
“This is not the first crisis Van Cleef & Arpels has faced. Crisis is a part of life,” De Quercize told Jewellery Outlook in an interview. “We have the ability to rebound.”
Van Cleef & Arpels came through the Great Depression in the 1930s by perfecting the Mystery Setting, which conceals the links behind gemstones and gives a supple feeling to the jewellery.
When the Second World War came, Van Cleef & Arpels expanded into the vital U.S. market, opening a boutique on Fifth Avenue in New York City .
At the time of the Paris student riots in the late 1960s, Van Cleef & Arpels introduced Alhambra , one of its signature collections which is available to this day in boutiques from the prestigious Rue de la Paix in Paris to New Bond Street in London .
And today, as the world faces its worst economic crisis in generations, Van Cleef & Arpels (VCA) has responded in the way it knows best – by stepping up its creative energies to new levels, and introducing freshly inspired collections, notably A Day in Paris ; Birds of Paradise, and California Reverie.
These collections draw upon the aesthetic traditions and vision of the jewellery house.

California Reverie, the newest collection, is inspired by the biodiversity and flora and fauna of California, while Birds of Paradise fulfils the jeweller’s  inspiration from nature, and A Day in Paris is a warm reflection of love and family, giving a reassuring feel in the midst of recession.
Van Cleef & Arpels is also focusing increasingly on watches and has reported strong orders from around the world recently for its Poetic Complications timepieces, such as Midnight in Paris, which indicates the position of the stars in the Paris sky throughout the year.
“We have been extremely creative,” De Quercize said.

“We are known more for our jewellery than our watches. Our ambition is to grow in both.”


Underscoring the jeweller’s determination to promote its watches, Van Cleef & Arpels has recently published an illustrated book outlining its vision for watches, entitled “The Poetry of Time.”
Asked how the house was responding to the economic crisis in terms of managing its inventory and ordering gemstones, De Quercize said that Van Cleef & Arpels, which employs about 80 highly skilled artisans, would continue to provide exclusive jewellery and timepieces and be true to its original values.
“We are Very Creative Artists (VCA). We want to have access to the best stones,” he said.
“As our founders would say, ’Offer the best.’ Because of this crisis, we have to do even more. Clients will be even more demanding about style and stones.”
Van Cleef & Arpels is constantly taking bespoke orders from wealthy clients for exquisite pieces, as it has done for generations.
“This has always been the mission of the house,” De Quercize said. “If you have a dream, come to Van Cleef & Arpels.”
Van Cleef & Arpels, which is expanding with several new stores this year, including in Milan, Kuwait, Jeddah, San Francisco and China, will continue to grow if it identifies markets with long-term potential.
“We will always look at possible expansion, but in a very selective way,” De Quercize said.
The recent opening of Van Cleef & Arpels’ boutique in Milan, just off the chic Via Montenapoleone, is its first store in Italy .
The store on Via Pietro Verri opened on June 24 and is attracting affluent clients visiting from Italy and around the world.

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