A Gold Necklace Fit for a Pharaoh

Van Cleef & Arpels’s new collar embodies an ancient regality in its design.

Article by Nancy Hass

ANOTHER THING_VCAVan Cleef & Arpels Legend of Diamonds Nuée de Diamants necklace, vancleefarpels.com. Photography by Pauline Caranton.

The gold collar is an ancient form of adornment; around the third millennium BCE, the Egyptian hieroglyph for the word “gold” itself took the form of a necklace that was bold, broad and suited for a pharaoh. Designers at the Parisian haute jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels, which has been headquartered in the same space onPlace Vendôme since 1906, became fascinated with such antiquities after the British archaeologist Howard Carter unearthed King Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922. In the years since, the house has produced many Egyptian revival works, including 1947’s thick gold Wave necklace punctuated with small diamonds. This newest homage, featuring an asymmetrical spray of stones that seem to defy gravity as they cling to the necklace’s convex surface, is made with a proprietary tool developed in the 1960s to create a textured relief on each articulated section. While modern techniques may render a monumental piece of this nature both more delicate and more comfortable to wear than those the pharaohs coveted, the impression remains one of supreme elegance.