Van Cleef & Arpels: The Animal Kingdom of Noah’s Ark by Robert Wilson

March 20, 2017

Title: The Entry of the Animals into Noah’s Ark | Artist: Jan Brueghel the Elder, J. Paul Getty Museum

De Jan Brueghel L’Ancien À Chagall ” A Legend That Has Inspired Artists ” – Armelle Fémelat

The animal kingdom in all it’s diversity is guest of honor in Van Cleef & Arpels new High Jewelry collection, which pays homage to the founding myth of Noah’s Ark.

From exotic toucans to mischievous koalas and delicate swans, the Maison offers a procession of some sixty animal couples escorted by three imaginary creatures all in the form of clips.

The jewels blend creativity, savoir-faire and poetry to bring this sumptuous parade to life, in a celebration of the wonders of nature. Let’s take closer look at some of the most beautiful specimens.

A Five Steps Process

  • Designing the piece, from the gouache drawing to the mock-up

Each piece in the collection is developed from an original gouache drawing, which is then interpreted in three dimensions by a sculptor. Crafted from green wax, this initial mock-up provides a means of getting a precise feel for the volume of the piece and of anticipating all the stages in its production, along with any potential technical difficulties. Some more complex pieces, such as the imaginary animals, called for mock-ups in tin that enabled the arrangement of the stones and jewelry making techniques to be simulated with precision.

  • Choice and treatment of the materials

Turquoise hooves, malachite trunks, mother of pearl feathers and coral wings: the collection offers a huge variety of carefully selected materials. For the hard stones, the lapidary cuts the raw material to obtain a well balanced fragment, which can then be recut using diamond saws and grindstones according to the outline in the drawing or mock-up. The elements may then be sculpted in greater detail or even recut in situ to produce a precise match with the jewelry structure.

  • Setting the stones

A broad palette of fine and precious stones ( diamonds, colored sapphires, garnets, etc. ) have also been used. To highlight the different tones and intensify the effect of volume, some pieces like the toucans display subtle gradations of stones. The setting techniques employed ( closed, grain, nail, prong and scalloped setting ) vary from animal to animal according to the desired texture. The collection’s mythical creatures employ the Mystery Set: the Maison’s emblematic technique – patented in 1933 – which enables uniform setting with no visible prongs or metal.

  • Shaping the gold

Whether pink, yellow or white, the gold has been worked in different ways for each piece . To obtain a flat and shiny surface, it is polished. To create the texture of a pelt, it is engraved with very fine lines by hand. The gold may also be gadrooned: worked with a file to obtain a delicately creased texture, like that of the horns of the gazelle.

  • Poling and finishing

Ever in search of perfection, the Maison pays particular attention to polishing its handmade materials using brushes and polishing threads. It is known as a ” mirror ” polish, because of its resulting brilliance. The same attention to detail can be seen in the backs of the pieces, which are covered with a finely open worked plate that provides an aesthetic finishing touch, its motif varying according to the species.



White gold, pink gold, diamonds, coral, onyx.

Pingouins Clip

In this tender composition, two penguins face one another while touching the tips of their flippers. Fringed with diamonds, their wings emphasize their black coats of onyx, while the ice floe is suggested by an irregular play of coral cabochons. This rounded clip evokes a gentle sense of unity.

White gold, yellow gold, diamonds, blue and yellow sapphires, yellow and Paraiba-type tourmalines, orange and green garnets, black and red spinels, ebony.

Toucans Clips

A dazzling gradation of gems recreates the multicolored brilliance of these tropical birds, The sumptuous effect is highlighted by the deep black ebony used to scupt the plumage. A homage to nature’s thousand and one hues.

Yellow gold, diamonds, black spinel cabochons

Kangourous Clips

Soaring graciously, two kangaroos bound along, their baby curled up inside it’s mother’s pouch. The trio is brought to life by intricate gold and diamond craftsmanship, a reflection of domestic harmony.

White gold, pink gold, diamonds, colored sapphires, black spinels

Tortues Clips

Two tortoises – one blue and the other pink – walk side by side. Their rounded shells are entirely covered with sapphires and diamonds. The closed setting technique creates a regular surface and trances out the delicate geometric motifs that adorn the animals.


Installation Details:
Date: March 10th – 26th, 2017
Time: 12:00pm – 8:00pm
Venue: Asia Society Hong Kong Center, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty

W:   L’Arche De Noé
W:   Van Cleef & Arpels
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Written by Luxuria Lifestyle Hong Kong & Macau

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