Van Cleef & Arpels unveils its Romeo and Juliet collection

French jewellery maison Van Cleef & Arpels recently unveiled its new themed collection, inspired by William Shakespeare’s enduring classic Romeo and Juliet. The new collection of earrings, necklaces, clips and watches, some of which are also transformable, represent iconic events and scenes between the two titular characters. As is an appropriate tribute to a love story set in Verona, Van Cleef & Arpels has also incorporated several elements of the Italian Renaissance when it comes to the style and setting of the pieces. 

Details of the Shakespearean tragedy are paid homage throughout the collection. Not only do the setting techniques that create a combination of geometric cuts and curves remind one of Italian architecture, but scenes from the play (such as the balcony scene, the approaching dawn and the birdsong) are also represented by creative designs and the use of Pierres de Caractère. The collection on the whole plays on variations of red and blue, which represent the opposing families of the Capulets and the Montagues and their union through the marriage of Romeo and Juliet. 

Romeo clip

In 2003, the maison also paid tribute to another Shakespearean love story, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With this collection, it once again combined literature (which has always been “one of the maison’s major sources of inspiration”) and love (“one of the maison’s founding themes”). For Nicolas Bos, the president and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels, “The choice of Romeo and Juliet [as the central theme] was a natural one.”

Bos explains, “When [French dancer and choreographer] Benjamin Millepied – whose work we have supported for the past several years – told us that he was working on a contemporary adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, it struck me as a remarkable creative opportunity. Shakespeare’s masterpiece acts as the starting point for a new thematic collection, but also for a dialogue between disciplines involving high jewellery, dance, music and the visual arts.” For further inspiration, Van Cleef & Arpels also used the drawings of Italian artist Lorenzo Mattotti, which depict an iconographic journey of the two lovers; some of the pieces inspired by specific scenes, like that of the garden and the nightingale, are anchored by his artwork. 

Some of the pieces of the collection include the duo of the Romeo and Juliet clips, which feature the silhouettes of the characters. With three-dimensional craftsmanship, the details of their Italian costumes and accessories are created from sapphires, lapis lazuli, orange sapphires, garnets and rubies, among others. The clip depicting Romeo also has motifs that refer to specific character traits: “His courage and determination are emphasised by the engraved sword set with diamonds that he wears at his belt, while his chivalry is illustrated by his inclined pose, evoking the courtly love of medieval literature.” 

The first necklace in the collection is called the Verona necklace, and its reliance on round and geometric cuts calls to mind the way the eponymous city is built. Using diamonds and sapphires, the waters of the River Adige are also referenced. The necklace is transformable and can be worn as a long necklace, as a short necklace with a bracelet, or as two bracelets and a clip. 

Other pieces in the collection include the Balcone clip, the Italian Rose necklace, the Giardino necklace, the Lover’s Path bracelet, the Specchio ring and the Belfiore necklace. When viewed alongside the rest of the pieces, they provide a view into the love and romance of the play, which are often overshadowed by its tragic ending. In the immortal words of Juliet: “And yet I wish but for the thing I have; My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.”

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