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 84, 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.
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.
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