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Object of Desire: Van Cleef & Arpels Animal Jewellery, Inspired By the 1984 La Boutique Collection

By Caroline Suganda

Tung Pham

Back in 1954, Van Cleef & Arpels reimagined the art of wearing jewellery with the introduction of La Boutique, a line characterised by its easy-to-wear, more affordable jewellery for the everyday. This collection of whimsical and charming animals opened a tender and light-hearted new chapter for the maison, and one that allowed it to reach out to new customers. Priding itself on the exquisite skill of its goldsmiths, these adorable animals were expressively crafted out of gold — the lion’s mane is painstakingly formed gold strands; a cat’s soft, fine fur is a result of fine, fluid engraving. As adorable as they are, the French jeweller has given these animals a new of life – presented in a palette of hard stones and emblematic Perlée bead-edge — in the same vein of its house’s icon, Alhambra. The animal characters are designed with the careful selection of hard stones in mind: The chatoyancy of the tiger’s eye is chosen to highlight the lion’s shimmering golden fur; a deep black onyx, polished to a high shine, evokes the sheen of the cat’s fur; the deep orange-brown of carnelian recalls the squirrel’s beautiful tawny hue.

Each creature is rendered in marquetry meticulously executed with hard stones and, most of them, outlined with the house’s signature Perlée bead-edging. 

Clockwise from top: Van Cleef & Arpels Lucky Animals Owl yellow gold clip with white and grey mother-of-pearl and onyx, $9,300, Cat yellow gold clip with onyx and tiger’s eye, $8,400, Dog yellow gold clip with white mother-of-pearl and onyx, $9,300, Squirrel pink gold clip with carnelian, tiger’s eye and onyx, $9,300, Lion yellow gold clip with tiger’s eye and onyx, $9,300, Hedgehog yellow gold clip with grey mother-of-pearl, tiger’s eye and onyx, $8,400, Hummingbird yellow gold clip with lapis lazuli, malachite and onyx, $10,200, Rabbit pink gold clip with tiger’s eye, white mother-of-pearl and onyx, $8,400 and Dove pink gold clip with white mother-of-pearl and onyx, $8,400.