A Necklace That Highlights The Beauty In Versatility

Van Cleef & Arpels has been creating convertible jewellery for decades. One of its latest pieces features a detachable pendant and brooch.

Article by Nancy Hass

Photography by Anthony Cotsifas. Styled by Linda Heiss Digital tech: Paulo Placencia. Photo assistant: Karl Leitz

When the Great Depression took hold in the early 1930s, fine jewellers scrambled to make their extravagant wares seem if not utilitarian at least a bit more versatile. Who needed a ball-worthy diadem that sat in a velvet box for much of the year, or an unwieldy cocktail ring? And so along came convertible jewellery — a single piece that could be configured in multiple ways. The most famous of these was Van Cleef & Arpels’ Zip necklace, with diamond teeth that could be zipped up to become a bracelet. The Surrealist design was suggested to the jeweller by Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, in 1938 after one of Simpson’s favourite couturiers, Elsa Schiaparelli, began to use the newfangled fastener on her designs instead of buttons. Today, the Paris-based house continues to experiment with such chameleonic creations, most recently this massive articulated collar with a detachable pendant and brooch. Adorned with more than 60 large rubies and a veritable mine of white diamonds, the two roses, which can be worn together as a clip, were fashioned by a proprietary method in which stones are set almost invisibly in a sculpture-like armature. The monumental piece, whether pinned to a lapel or draped around the neck, may not be built for practicality this time around, but it surely illustrates the beauty of always remaining adaptable. Van Cleef & Arpels Italian Rose transformable clip, price on request, vancleefarpels.com.

A version of this article appears in print in our launch edition, Page 34 of T Australia with the headline: Another Thing.
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