Revealed: the playful mysteries of Le Secret by Van Cleef & Arpels

Van Cleef & Arpels’ latest high jewellery collection Le Secret, launched at the summer Paris Couture show 2017, takes whimsy to new heights of delight. 

Van Cleef & Arpels Le Secret collection jewellery

The Parisian jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels is dedicated to delighting and surprising its faithful followers. As masters at creating the most whimsical and heart-flutteringly charming jewels, its designers and craftsmen have created a universe populated with diamond-dusted fairies, gem-laden butterflies and bejewelled flowers for over a century. But the Le Secret collection adds a whole new element of surprise and mystery to the art of haute joaillerie with one hundred jewels that transform, twirl or unfold to reveal their own little precious secret.

In the world of Le Secret, nothing is quite as it appears. A ballerina in a shimmering skirt of diamonds and blue and mauve sapphires slips away to reveal a swan, in its wake a moonlit pool of precious gems. At the click of a secret mechanism, a brooch in the form of a vivid yellow and mauve sapphire flower releases a butterfly brooch. A 16.46-carat Madagascar sapphire glides out of its diamond frame to make way for a glorious cluster of pinky-violet sapphires and white diamonds.  Three rows of sumptuous pearl ropes form a long Indian-style sautoir necklace ending in a pearl tassel (top of article). Inside the shield-shape pink sapphire and diamond studded locket hides a 2.33 carat Burmese ruby ring.  For the romantically inclined, a heart-shape pink sapphire and diamond brooch, below, comes apart to transform into either ear clips or longer pendant style drops.

Le Secrete Amour Retrouvé transformable brooch and earrings
A riddle of its own, the Van Cleef & Arpels Le Secret Amour Retrouvé in pink sapphires and diamonds can be worn in three different ways: as a heart-shaped brooch, ear clips and longer pendant earrings (POA).

But my favourite is a resplendent pink coral and yellow and rose sapphire Lovebird surrounded by mystery-set ruby poppies, below. The proud mother opens her wing to reveal her baby safely nestled in her downy breast. In a similar vein, a life-size ladybird plays hide and seek behind a fan of diamond leaves adding a playful touch to the majesty of the 10.17-carat Zambian emerald centrepiece of a brooch.

Le Secrete Sous son Aile Brooch
Bringing cute to high jewellery the Sous son Aile Brooch from Van Cleef & Arpels Le Secret collection features a bejewelled Lovebird concealing her baby chick under her wing (POA).

Hard at work behind the gem-set gold work, ingenious mechanisms animate these miniature theatrics all lovingly hand-crafted in Van Cleef & Arpels’ Place Vendôme ateliers. Each piece is a one-off creation, crafted entirely by hand from start to finish with every mechanism custom-made for each jewel.  Tin models were made of the more complex pieces to ensure not only their aesthetic and craft excellence but ease of use and reliability of the miniature mechanics behind the scenes. 

While transformable jewellery and mystery have long been a forté of Van Cleef & Arpels, these ingenious gem-laden surprises take delightful to new heights.

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