Van Cleef & Arpels Sous les Étoiles high jewellery collection revealed

Inspired by the magnificence of the night sky, Van Cleef & Arpels 2021 high jewellery invites us to dream with the stars

Céphéide necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels on model

Like a rare comet sighting, the Van Cleef & Arpels 'Sous les Étoiles, heavenly dreams' high jewellery is worth the wait. The 150 one-of-a-kind jewels are inspired by the mystery of the cosmos that has transfixed astronomers and awed stargazers throughout history.

In their approach, the designers at Van Cleef & Arpels looked at different interpretations of the night sky.  The team was inspired by texts are diverse as classical Greek writings, to the early C17th work of Johannes Kepler ‘Lunar Astronomy’ and Camille Flammarion’s 1880 Astronomie Populaire with its quaint views on the cosmos to the mind-blowing images captured by NASA. The mastery of Van Cleef & Arpels lies in the exquisite sensitivity expressed in each jewel that so vividly captures the enigmatic forms and dazzling colours of the heavens.  The Sous les Étoiles jewels remind us of the magnificence and exquisite beauty of our infinite universe and man’s attempts to grasp and understand its wonder.

One of the highlights of the Sous les Étoiles collection is the Halley necklace and ring (below) with interchangeable elements. Like the flaming tail of a comet, diamonds sweep around the neck and finger creating a celestial halo of light. The central pear-shaped, 11.29 carats, Fancy Vivid Yellow diamond can be removed and worn in the ring.  The ring can also be worn with a pear-shaped, 3.26 carats, D colour, Flawless diamond floating atop a carpet of yellow diamonds. The strong geometry and graphic shapes of the necklace vividly capture the power and heat of a comet flashing through the sky.

Halley necklace and ring by Van Cleef & Arpels
The Halley necklace pays homage to the rare planet that lights up the night sky every 15 years in a white and yellow diamond choker and ring. The large yellow diamond of the necklace can also be worn in the ring.  From Van Cleef & Arpels Sous les Étoiles, heavenly dreams high jewellery collection 2021

Another stand out piece is the Antennae reversible necklace that is inspired by the slow collision of two galaxies that began some 500 million years ago. In creating this jewel, Van Cleef & Arpels draws on a rich heritage of transformable necklaces that dates back to the 1930’s when the maison first offered its clients jewels that could be worn in several ways, including the iconic Zip necklace-bracelet combination. The Antennae necklace is a masterful tapestry of 417 carats of 154 pink and mauve Madagascar sapphires as well as rubies and diamonds. The stones were collected over the course of two years and then set into articulated bezels to create an impressive graduation of colour from soft pink to rich violet. Like a soft fabric, the necklace can be draped around the neck in several ways, showing different sections of the galaxies of colour on display. 

My two favourite necklaces stand out for their daring and sensitive use of different gemstones and minerals. The Ciel de Minuit necklace (below) is a brilliantly  evocative and bravely contemporary interpretation of the Milky Way. Sculpted plaques of deep blue lapis lazuli, so naturally similar to an inky dark night sky are the canvas for this celestial scene. A stardust of diamonds and sapphires are scattered over the lapis lazuli and clustered like nebula around the necklace. Strikingly original, this piece is one of the most daring designs of the collection and reminds us of Van Cleef & Arpels’ tradition of experimentation and innovation in both design and materials.

Ciel de minuit necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels
In homage to the Milky Way, the Ciel de minuit necklace creates a night sky with lapis lazuli, diamonds and sapphires. From Van Cleef & Arpels Sous les Étoiles, heavenly dreams high jewellery collection 2021

The Céphéide necklace (below) with a detachable clip is the other jewel that stands out for its exceptional use of colour and materials. Cepheids are giant stars with a brilliant but fluctuating light, an anomaly that only adds to their intrigue. The waning  radiance of these stars is captured in eleven milky-mauve chalcedony cabochons (totalling close to 160 carats), their soft contours perfectly capturing the half-light of these distant bodies. Combined with rare two-tone mauve and green tanzanites and the neon flash of green tsavorites, Céphéide conjures up an otherworldly mood as do the matching Ultraviolet earrings.

Céphéide necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels
Like many of Van Cleef & Arpels’ jewels the Céphéide necklace is transformable. It features eleven milky-mauve chalcedony cabochons (totalling close to 160 carats) that capture the half-light of these distant bodies. The detachable clip combines rare two-tone mauve and green tanzanites with the neon flash of green tsavorites. 

Take a moment to look at the Nuée d’émeraudes necklace (below) which is a brilliant example of how stone cuts and settings can create dazzling new effects. Inspired by the 41P comet, this astral body's blue-green glow is captured in 96 emeralds with a total of 62.30 carats cut into elongated baguettes. It is unusual to see emeralds in this facetted cut set in a half-closed frame. They form a jagged fringe along with rail-set sapphires and baguette diamonds each emerald is delicately tipped with different-shaped diamonds to express the dynamism of the ever-changing lives of comets.

Nuée d’émeraudes necklace
Almost 100 emeralds with a total of 62.30 carats create the jagged fringe of the Nuée d’émeraudes necklace also set with sapphires and diamonds for a dramatic and very contemporary look. From Van Cleef & Arpels Sous les Étoiles, heavenly dreams high jewellery collection 2021

The Ceinture d’émeraudes necklace is another eye-opening example of how the most traditional gemstone, the emerald, can take on a new life. 125 fancy-cut Afghan emeralds weighing 63.82 carats mixed with diamonds and a trail of sapphires and black spinels swirl across the precious gold web. Alive with motion, this vibrant galaxy of gems brings a whole new dimension to the term emerald necklace.

The eerie glow of distant planets is perfectly captured in the Centura necklace. A two-tier diamond rivière showcases a pulsating burnt orange 24.38-carat Imperial topaz and a searingly bright 3.03-carat pink sapphire adding an alien light to an otherwise traditional design.

 A remarkable 69.23-carat cabochon Sri Lankan sapphire graces the Sentier d’etoiles bracelet. Diamonds, yellow sapphires and tsavorites create the illusion of a staircase leading to the heavenly blue orb. One glimpse into the velvety depths of the sapphire hints at the enigmatic eternity of space. And we can’t forget the playful Temple ring (below) which is a wink to 1950’s style intergalactic fantasy films and school boy comic strips. A bullet-shaped turquoise sits in a ring in the form of a diamond-studded space ship.

Temple turquoise ring by Van Cleef & Arpels
The playful Temple ring places a bullet-cut turquoise sits in a ring in the shape of a diamond-studded space ship in homage to the 1950’s style intergalactic fantasy films and comics. From Van Cleef & Arpels Sous les Étoiles, heavenly dreams high jewellery collection 2021. 

Van Cleef & Arpels Sous les Étoiles jewels are sublime in their power to make us dream about the allure of the heavens and to connect us with the stars above using gemstones from the depths of the earth.



Support our Work with a Contribution of any Amount

We need your help to keep The Jewellery Editor’s independence so that we can continue to offer quality writing that’s open to everyone around the world.

It means we can give a full and varied picture of the big, wide world of jewellery and watches whether it is on our website or social media channels.

Every contribution is hugely appreciated and key to ensuring our future.

Terms and conditions

Shop this article

Our shopping list