When the choreographer George Balanchine debuted “Jewels” in 1967 at the New York City Ballet’s new home at Lincoln Center, it was considered the first full-evening abstract ballet. Cynics speculated that, with sparkly costumes and three acts titled “Emeralds,” “Rubies” and “Diamonds,” he was trying to attract a glitzier crowd for the relatively proletarian dance company. But he insisted his inspiration came from the gems in the Fifth Avenue windows of Van Cleef & Arpels, the Parisian jeweller run by Claude Arpels. Claude’s uncle, Louis, had been the first Arpels to recognize the elegant symbiosis between gems and the ballet, commissioning the now 124-year-old maison’s signature ballerina clips in the 1940s. Van Cleef & Arpels has continued to reference dance throughout its history, most recently with these earrings made in the dangling rounded-pendant balletti style, inspired by the jewel-toned ball gowns worn by women during the Italian Renaissance. While both pairs feature diamonds and pearls, one suggests spring, with a confection of rubies and pink sapphires, and the other gestures toward fall, with emeralds, yellow sapphires and black spinels. Both dance and spin weightlessly in the light, alive with effervescent grace.
Digital tech: Maiko Ando
Karl Leitz and Jess Kirkham
Stylist’s assistant: Sarah Ballard
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