Once upon a time, as the legend goes, the renowned choreographer George Balanchine saw the sparkling showcases of Van Cleef & Arpels boutique and got inspired to create a beautiful ballet Jewels (1967). An ode to feminity, the ballet is dedicated to three exceptional gemstones and three different styles of ballet: emeralds with Fauré, rubies with Stravinsky, and diamonds with Tchaikovsky.
In 2007, to commemorate the ballet’s 40th anniversary, the London Royal Ballet performed Jewels at the Royal Opera House in London. Van Cleef & Arpels took part in the celebration by creating the Ballet Précieux High Jewelry collection.
Van Cleef & Arpels Ballet Précieux collection:
The Sylvia clip, set with pavé diamonds, reveals the beauty and elegance of the movement of a ballerina’s leg. The dancer is gracefully poised en pointe with her tutu echoing the pose, ready to perform the next ballet step.
Light and graceful, the tutu in the Gloria clip is reminiscent of a rose in full bloom. Thanks to the Mystery Setting technique, the dress’s ruby petals appear to move and flow, recreating the twirl of the dancer. Grain-set diamond borders enhance the impression of volume and heighten the scarlet luster of the Mystery Setting, creating the illusion that the ballerina is being enveloped in the fabric of her tutu.
Inspired by the first act featuring the Emerald of the Royal Opera House performance of Balanchine’s ballet, the Héloïse clip combines femininity with technical prowess. Frozen in time, the ballerina is gracefully spreading her Mystery Set emerald tutu. Applying Mystery Setting to this piece called for extreme attention to detail and great lapidary expertise, since emeralds are much softer than the rubies or sapphires generally used for this technique.
Executing a delicate arabesque, the ballerina is resplendent in her airy tulle skirt and her pavé diamond tiara, bodice, and ballet shoes.
Sylvia Diadème ring
As one of the main accessories worn by ballerinas during performances, the diadème or tiara embodies the romantic ballet. This emblematic accessory has inspired these lovely Diadème rings from the Ballet Précieux High Jewelry collection, which gracefully embrace the finger. The rings feature an emerald, a ruby, or a diamond as their center stone and are set with calibrated, round, and baguette-cut pavé diamonds.
This bracelet – one of the central pieces from the Ballet Précieux High Jewelry collection – owes its name to the wife and muse of the painter Marc Chagall, whose magnificent work graces the dome of the Paris Opera. The cuff is made up of 99 polished emeralds of different sizes, each set on near-invisible prongs. The pebble-like gems form a puzzle, which weighs a total of 248.47 carats. Its clasp, reminiscent of lace, is hinged on two rows of baguette-cut diamonds.
Lac des Cygnes High Jewelry timepiece
The High Jewelry timepiece Lac des Cygnes is inspired by the eponymous ballet Swan Lake. A cascade of rose-cut diamonds fan out on either side of the bracelet like the feathers of a swan’s wings, creating an airy, weightless effect. They gracefully frame a case set with baguette-cut diamonds containing a shimmering mother-of-pearl dial.
Prima Ballerina earrings
The title of Prima Ballerina is given to a ballet’s leading ballerina. Equivalent to the French “Danseuse Etoile”, it is the highest position a ballerina can achieve. The title of Prima Ballerina Assoluta is a very rare honor given to exceptionally talented ballerinas since the 20th Century. These ear pendants reflect that unique quality. They feature astonishing teardrop-shaped Colombian emeralds known as ‘eyes of the tiger’ – totaling 56.19 carats – which spin beneath little diamond-set tutus crowned by pear-shaped diamonds. Thanks to this technical achievement, these unique emeralds can be viewed from all sides.
The Opéra necklace is made up of two contrasting elements: a simple row of baguette-cut diamonds set in white gold and an impressive drape of Mystery Set rubies.
This piece, inspired by the opulent red and gold stage curtain at the Paris Opera, reveals the technical prowess of Mystery Setting at its finest. The technique gives the curtain its smooth fall, rich volume and natural movement. Each Mystery Set ruby is meticulously made-to-measure to achieve this trompe-l’oeil effect. To perfect the illusion, two rows of yellow diamonds gracefully hem the ruby-set drape, while the inside of the curtain is set with baguette-cut diamonds.
Van Cleef & Arpels has always found inspiration in ballet. Spanish Dancer, one of the first ballerina brooches, was created back in 1941. A fragile, graceful silhouette of a ballet dancer made of white gold and decorated with diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
Spanish Dancer clip, 1941
Other ballerina pins were created during 1940s and 1950s. This tradition is still cherished, and Van Cleef & Arpels collection of ballet brooches and accessorizes is slowly growing with every year.
Swan Lake Odille and Odette clips
Ballerina clip, 1943
Ballerina clip, 1947
Ballet Reflections Ballerina
Swan Lake jewelry box, 1947