LONDON, June 19, 2011 – Paris-based luxury jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels has unveiled a high jewellery collection inspired by legendary balls of the 20th Century, appealing to buyers from an increasingly international class of super-rich.
The one-off creations of the Bals de Legende collection, featuring the most exquisite diamonds, emeralds and rare gemstones, were on display in the sumptuous Lancaster House, St. James's Palace, on June 17.
The opulent setting mirrored the grandeur of the historic balls, and ranged in price up to 6.3 million euros ($8.9 million).
"We have more clients from different locations, and this is good: it means that there is a greater spread of culture, wealth and connoisseurship," Van Cleef & Arpels’ CEO Stanislas de Quercize told Jewellery Outlook in an interview.
In former times, traditional collectors of Van Cleef & Arpels jewels, which have been worn by some of the world's most glamorous women such as the Duchess of Windsor, Marlene Dietrich and Madonna, were from a narrower group of ultra-wealthy.
But now the emergence of fast-growing economies such as the BRICs - Brazil, Russia, India and China - has created opportunities for Van Cleef & Arpels, which started from a boutique in Paris's plush Place Vendome in 1906 and has since grown to become a global brand.
This month Van Cleef & Arpels, a subsidiary of Swiss-based luxury goods group Richemont, is opening an outlet in Hong Kong and expanding retail space in Moscow.SIGNATURE PIECES
Soaring prices of precious metals such as gold and platinum, as well as diamonds which have bounced back since the 2008
global financial crisis, are no deterrent to the super-rich.
"There is a flight towards quality," De Quercize said.
"People want signature pieces. People are looking for the best quality."
Among the standout pieces of the Bals de Legende collection, sparkling under the Lancaster House's chandeliers, were a pair of earrings featuring two supremely rare briolette-cut diamonds (DIF type 2A), each weighing just over 20 carats, for 6.3 million euros ($8.9 million.)
Another piece, which again highlighted the maison’s intricate design expertise, was a clip of a dancer from the East, featuring garnets, yellow sapphires, amethysts, turquoises, moonstones and diamonds.
The collection was inspired by balls, such as the fancy dress Winter Palace Ball in St. Petersburg in 1903, attended by the doomed Romanovs, rulers of Russia, and an Oriental ball, an extravagant celebration of the East, in Paris in 1969.
Some of the pieces from the Bals de Legende collection had already been bought, sources close to Van Cleef & Arpels said, and it came as no surprise that Russian and Far Eastern connoisseurs had come forward.