COLLANE, da sapere — August 30, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Myths: the Zip Van Cleef & Arpels




One of the myths in the history of jewelry is the Zip necklace  by Van Cleef & Arpels. Do you know it? Here is a brief history of a milestone in luxury ♦

There are myths that never fade. One of them is the Van Cleef & Arpels Zip necklace. If you don’t know this jewel, read this article and look at the pictures: it is, in fact, one of the milestones of jewelry. It has now turned 82, yet it is still a miracle of the goldsmith’s technique and is still inimitable. Moreover, it also has a noble history: the idea of ​​a jewel in the shape of a zip zipper is attributed to the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, American wife of King Edward VIII of England, who abdicated to be able to marry her (she was divorced) . According to this version, in 1938 the Duchess, a great lover of jewelry, suggested the idea of ​​a necklace with a hinge to Renée Puissant, daughter of Alfred Van Cleef and artistic director of the Maison. Undoubtedly an original idea.

Collana-bracciale Zip di Van Cleef & Arpels
Collana-bracciale Zip di Van Cleef & Arpels

Making the necklace that opens with a zip system, however, was not easy. To make a jewel like this in a workmanlike manner, it takes from 400 to 1,200 hours and, above all, a great craftsmanship. To tell the truth, the one created by Van Cleef & Arpels and which became famous was not the first hinge: the designer Elsa Schiaparelli, a high jewelery genius, had thought of it before, but without reaching that level of complexity and luxury.
Il duca di Windsor, ex re Edoardo VIII, assieme a Wallis Simpson

In addition to the difficulty in making a jewel that opens and closes, it must be added that there is also another aspect to complicate the creation: the necklace is transformable. The closure, in fact, flows up and down, like the zip of a dress: in this way it allows the necklace to shorten or widen. Not only that, it can be transformed into a bracelet. Zip necklaces are made with different materials: in yellow or white gold, with precious stones, diamonds. They are still one of the Maison’s most fascinating jewels. Alessia Mongrando

Collana Zip, 1951
Collana Zip, 1951
La trasformazione in bracciale
La trasformazione in bracciale
Lavorazione di una collana
Lavorazione di una collana
Schizzi per le collane Zip
Schizzi per le collane Zip
Zip in oro diamanti e rubini del 1954
Zip in oro diamanti e rubini del 1954
Una celebre immagine della duchessa di Windsor firmata da Cecil Beaton
Una celebre immagine della duchessa di Windsor firmata da Cecil Beaton







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