The romantic and dramatic story of Romeo and Juliet through the collection of high jewelery by Van Cleef & Arpels ♦ ︎
Romeo and Juliet is the most famous tragedy written by William Shakespeare. Needless to summarize the story: everyone knows it. The two unfortunate young lovers, killed by a cruel fate, have become symbols in the collective imagination. From characters of a theatrical work they have become real characters, so much so that in Verona thousands of tourists go to visit the house attributed to Juliet. It doesn’t matter if the girl has existed or not, the pilgrimage is in fact destined to sanctify love.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the universal myth of the contrasted love of Romeo and Juliet has been adopted by various artists, particularly in music and dance. More recently, for example, Benjamin Millepied, former prime dancer of the New York City Ballet and founder of the company L.A. Dance Project, has shared with Van Cleef & Arpels his project to create a contemporary version of Romeo and Juliet. It is not strange: since its origins Van Cleef & Arpels has had relations with the world of dance, a major source of inspiration for the Maison. For example, the collaboration between Claude Arpels and George Balanchine gave birth in 1967 to the ballet Jewels. And with Millepied the Gems trilogy was born, composed by Reflections (2013), Hearts & Arrows (2014) and On the Other Side (2016).
Working on Romeo and Juliet seemed necessary for several reasons. Literature is an important source of inspiration for the Maison, which in 2003 paid tribute to the Shakespeare universe with the Songe d´une nuit d’été collection. When Benjamin Millepied, with whom we have been collaborating for several years, announced to us that he was preparing a contemporary interpretation of Romeo and Juliet, a formidable creative opportunity was envisaged. Shakespeare’s masterpiece is the starting point of a new thematic collection, but also of a multidisciplinary dialogue between High Jewelery, dance, music and graphic arts.
Nicolas Bos, President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels
And so here is the high jewelery collection, which includes over one hundred unique, figurative or abstract pieces, inspired by the story of Romeo and Juliet. The jewels are inspired by different aspects of history, from the balcony scene, to the dawn that is approaching, the birds singing, the gardens and architecture of Verona, but also the parure and clothes of the Renaissance seem to come to life on the basis of the creations. Since these are pieces that need a more accurate description, we divide the collection on several pages.